Community helps after vandals destroy Syrian refugee's garden

The Lower Hutt community has come together to help a Syrian refugee whose garden was vandalised.

More than 1000 plants were destroyed, but there was a massive response when the call for help went out.

On Tuesday Khaled Al Jouja came home to find his greenhouse in tatters - almost a year's work ruined. The plants were nearly ready to be sold at his fledgling nursery business at the ReMakery, a social enterprise in Lower Hutt run by the Common Unity Project.

They put out an SOS on Facebook - and the event came together in just four days.

"It was a pretty heart-breaking moment, but I like to think this is going to go a long way to healing what happened," event organiser Julia Milne told Newshub.

"We've been able to take something that was really sad, and really quite challenging for the family, and turn it into something really beautiful."

The rain did nothing to deter hundreds of volunteers from chipping in.

"It's fantastic, people donating their time and their goods. It's what community's all about," said Fleur Rowe.

Laura Allen said, "Everyone cares. Everyone wants to get involved."

"We just had to help out, no matter what. Seeing one of us get hurt like that, we just head to help out," said John-Paul Porteous.

Mr Al Jouja ran a successful gardening business in Homs, Syria. Five years ago he and his family fled, moving to Lebanon, and then Lower Hutt as refugees. He was overwhelmed by his new community.

"Thank you for every people for coming today," he told Newshub.

"Today I'm very happy for people, for [the] country to help me. For everything."

It's not yet known who vandalised his plants, or why.

"Some people are no good, but no problem," he said.

"I'd like to think they have seen the outpouring of love in our community, and I'd like them to understand that there is a place for them here too," said Ms Milne.

And $12,500 has also been raised, coming from as far as Ireland, the UK and the US. And what Mr Al Jouja can't take home will go to other urban farms run by the Common Unity Project to help feed people in need.