Regardless of whether you are an urban, suburban, or rural dweller, there is inevitably a patch of neglected turf in your neighborhood that might need a bit of TLC and greening. If you see hidden gardening potential between sidewalk cracks when others see decay and abandon, well then, you might be a budding guerrilla gardener and not even know it! The guerrila gardening phenomenon is currently sweeping the globe as folks are finding innovative ways to come together for the optimization of neglected land and paved surface area. It’s a turf war for some, or a poetic gesture for others, but either way, citizens are rolling up there sleeves to create gardens in the most unlikely spaces and places.
The term ‘guerrilla gardening‘ might scare off some, but the practice has a long history of both radical and community-building tactics. Liz Christy and the Green Guerrillas transformed an abandoned lot in NYC’s Bowery during the 1970’s and as the BBC recently reported, guerrilla gardeners are ’sowing the seeds of resistance’ in South London. Many ‘resistance gardeners’ consider themselves to be vandals of sorts but with plants or seeds as weapons, often operating covertly at night in empty lots or on public property that otherwise remains unkept or barren.
The Guerilla Gardening website has a friendly though subversive sort of tone, as it has gone from tracking the activities of “illicit cultivation around London” to being a “growing arsenal for anyone who is interested in waging war against the neglect of public space.” It’s troop digs are warm and inviting and ultimately about reclamation, beautification, and even growing food in public spaces (a political act in and of itself as we re-educate ourselves about viable land use). The lighter side of the guerilla gardening campaign would probably be community gardens or grassroots gardening, which also brings folks together (during daylight hours) for neighborhood improvement and local food security. Whether as collective green graffiti or as an attempt to reclaim the neighborhood and make improvements for all, guerrilla gardening is a form of eco-activism that is catching on despite its controversial methods.