Someone stole a pumpkin from the Early Street Community Garden on Labor Day, and the gardeners want it back. No questions asked.
Whoever made off with this 20-pounder took more than a plump gourd. He or she robbed the garden of a powerful memorial, a living tribute to the late Mark Tobler.
Monday’s pumpkin was filched from the Infinity Memorial Garden, a patch that was dedicated last spring by Mark’s widow, Marianne. The plot includes a sign along with a large laminated photo of Mark with his daughter, Alexandra.
“He meant so much to so many people,” said Maureen Denman, a trustee of Grow It Green Morristown who helped Mark cultivate the soil of his pumpkin patch.
Twice a year they hauled manure from Seaton Hackney Stables to the garden.
Maureen invested great effort this summer nurturing the pumpkin that has gone missing.
Pumpkins don’t like rain, and a soggy June led to seven re-plantings of this one, she said.
Maureen last saw the pumpkin around 1 pm on Labor Day. She said this is the first such incident in the five-year history of the community garden.
The garden is surrounded by a fence with a locked gate; better fencing is among renovations that are anticipated to follow Morristown’s recent purchase of the almost-one-acre property.
Residents of houses on Early Street used to keep an eye on the garden, Maureen said. But those homes have been demolished to make way for the Latitude apartment complex, part of the Speedwell Avenue redevelopment.
Maureen said the pumpkin theft rekindled childhood memories of the burglary of her family’s home.
“It’s such a violation. To me, it’s very sad… It’s so creepy.”
Although the purloined pumpkin was only about the size of a bowling ball, it had a shot at eclipsing Mark Tobler’s local record.
Pumpkins can grow 30- to 50 pounds a day in the weeks before Halloween.
Unfortunately, once severed, they cannot be reattached to the vine. Still, the gardeners want this pumpkin back.
It’s never going to set any records. But it’s way too big for the person who sneaked off with it.
Christian Schuller video about Mark Tobler’s 400-pound pumpkin: