In the war between Human Civilization and Mother Nature, the abundance of big box stores, pavement, freeways and housing developments may signal that Team Industrialization is winning. However, some creative and enterprising Homo sapiens are not willing to let the world go the way of the machine without a good fight.
The guerrilla gardening movement allies plants with gardeners who install them in public or private spaces that they themselves do not own. This type of clandestine cultivation transforms neglected or abandoned properties through the creation of full vegetable gardens, seed or plant “bombing, art installations or green graffiti. Much of the movement’s guiding principles are centered around the notions of food independence, land reform, ecological awareness and environmental reclamation.
Modern incarnations of guerrilla gardening take almost as many forms as the plants themselves, beginning with the coining of the term in the 1970’s by Liz Christy and the Green Guerillas, who revitalized a New York plot by establishing a community garden. By throwing “green-aids”, or seed bombs over the fence of their target site, they began colonizing the vacant lot with fruits and vegetables. After hauling away trash and amending the soil, the Guerillas launched a more aggressive mission to establish a more permanent local green space for their community. Currently, they are an established non-profit who promote education, sustain grass-root coalitions and engage youth organizations with the mission of spreading land reform and green public areas.
Since New York’s pioneering urban green space, guerrilla gardening movements have spread across thirty documented countries and have become the topic of a number of thriving internet forums and websites. The latest such venture to catch our attention comes from Heather Powazek Champ, who knits plants pockets and drops them secretly and strategically around the city of San Francisco (as per the featured photo, above).
For a humorous and inspiring account of one urban farmer’s adventures in squatting, pick up a copy of Novella Carpenter’s Farm City. Further tips and stories from the front lines can be found through the guerrillagardening.org, an excellent resource for the history of the movement, outlines and suggestions for your own project, and links to guerrilla groups in your area.
Where would you take a stand and plant the seeds for a little rebellion?