The vandalism occurred sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning at a nursery in the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, located at 1150 Carroll Ave. in the shadow of the Candlestick Park stadium.
Patrick Rump, executive director of Literacy for Environmental Justice, a nonprofit that runs the nursery, said the vandals overturned as many as 5,000 plants, smashed garden tools and nursery tables, damaged community garden beds and even wrecked a toilet and sink. He estimated the cost of the damage at $15,000.
"It feels like a setback, kind of like a major blow to the 'people' side of it," Rump said. "The plants and objects can all be replaced and re-grown."
Literacy for Environmental Justice works with State Parks to grow native San Francisco plants, which can then be planted locally.
Many of the plants destroyed this weekend were slated to be part of the Yosemite Slough Wetlands Restoration project, he said.
Rump estimated that months' worth, if not a year's worth of work by staff, community members, youths and high school interns was destroyed.
Cleanup efforts are already under way at the site, which he described as a "chaotic mess."
"This week we are trying to salvage what's salvageable," he said.
After a preliminary cleanup this week, gardeners next week will start re-growing plants and planting new seedlings. On May 5, Literacy for Environmental Justice has organized a volunteer day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to ramp up efforts to get the nursery back on track.
To prevent a similar incident in the future, Rump said the nursery is looking to improve its fencing.
The executive director emphasized that this was an isolated incident that California State Parks is investigating. He said it appears at least a couple of people jumped over the fence to gain access to the garden.
Rump thinks the vandalism happened sometime Sunday evening.
"Ironically, it happened on Earth Day," he said.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Candlestick Point park can email Patrick Rump at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A state parks spokesman was not immediately available for comment.