Police in Norwich, Vermont, are investigating the theft of 70 pounds of organic broccoli from right out of a farm field. Killdeer Farm, which rents land alongside Interstate 91, told New England Cable News it discovered the missing produce last weekend.
"More shock, I guess, than anything," said farm manager Chris Castles, describing his reaction to finding his harvest was hijacked. "It does sting."
Killdeer Farm said the 70 pounds of broccoli crowns would be worth $200 or more dollars wholesale, or $300 retail at their farm stand on Route 5 South in Norwich.
"This is a first for me," Chief Doug Robinson of the Norwich Police Department told NECN.
Robinson said he currently has no leads, and hopes members of the public will come forward with information. The phone number for the department is 802-649-1460.
Since it was so much broccoli, Robinson said some have wondered if thieves planned to pass it off as their own to restaurant buyers.
"Somebody thinks about, 'Oh, they're stealing the broccoli; it's kind of humorous,'" Robinson said. "It's also somebody's livelihood they're messing with."
Deer and other animals have been ruled out as suspects, because there were no tracks found in the farm field. Farmers are sure humans took the broccoli because they said someone reached into the plants with precision and cut the crowns with a knife. Since the row of broccoli runs parallel to Interstate 91, Castles said he wonders if someone might have parked on the side of the highway, hopped the fence, and brought a crate to haul off the broccoli.
"It's disappointing," said Scott Woolsley, the retail manager of Killdeer Farm's stand on Route 5. "We just hope whoever took it needed it to feed their family."
Woolsley said of course, this won't sink the small business. He pointed out Killdeer Farm often donates food to area charities. But to him and to Castles, the broccoli heist was a reminder of how farmers work so hard, for so long, and deserve something to show for it.