BOISE -- Over the past three years, an empty lot next to Hawthorne Elementary School has blossomed into an Idaho native plants learning and teaching garden. This week, progress made in the project took steps backwards.

The garden coordinator says that about two days ago, vandals jumped over the fence that protects about 1,000 baby plants and a new sprinkler system. The vandals then walked around the site and smashed all of the new sprinklers.

Some of the plants were dug up, but luckily most of them made it through the incident unharmed.

After hours of hard work to create this learning space for students and the community, garden coordinator Amy Pence-Brown says the crime is devastating.

"We're really upset and sad, cause it's such a beautiful space and such an innovative space for our students and our larger neighborhood. The school acts as a public park of sorts and it's really turning into something amazing and fun and to see somebody come in and just thoughtlessly ruin that possibility for again, the school and the neighbors, was pretty devastating," Pence-Brown said.

In the future, she hopes that criminals will think twice before hurting the property that she finds a valuable learning space for the children who use it.

Pence-Brown said, "Ideally we would like people to take pride in our neighborhood and our space and treat it with respect and kindness when they come here to use it because it is such a great asset to our community."

She says the damage totals at about $1,000 and will be covered by their insurance. Security cameras are being installed on the school grounds. Anyone who has information about the crime is urged to call police.