It's harvest festival time for the congregation at Dannevirke's St John the Baptist Anglican Church, but for senior St John cadets, there will be little to harvest in the coming months after thieves raided their garden.
The cadets had worked hard to raise seeds, plant a herb garden and native plants and to erect a shade sail as part of the work for their environment badge this term, but they've been left gutted after thieves got away with the sail and more than half the seedlings and all the herbs.
"The plants were all quite healthy and you do have to wonder as to why someone would do something like this," Reverend Jo Crosse, a member of the St John leadership team, said.
For cadet Amber Reed the theft has left her shocked. Amber waters the plants on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and everything was as it should be Monday night and she couldn't believe they were gone Tuesday evening.
"I'm really gutted," she said. "This work is an important part of our environment badge. It's so sad to see so much has been stolen."
The senior cadets were keeping diaries and monitoring the growth of the plants which went in four weeks ago, the vegetables as seeds and the herbs as plants. Now, all that remains are a few seedlings and a ground marker for the spinach and rocket.
Samuel Smith said he and fellow senior cadets had spent almost two hours preparing the seeds and seedlings and it was annoying to discover the theft when they arrived for their Tuesday evening meeting.
Natasha Bradbury was also very upset.
"This is very disrespectful after all our hard work," she said.
And Jazmin Dean was shaking her head in disbelief that only a few seedlings were left.
The cadet's garden is on an empty piece of land adjacent to the church and hall and Crosse said it was hard to fathom why anyone would want to steal from the cadets who had worked so hard.