No, it’s not a new Special Forces group in the United States military…but it does sometimes occur under the cover of night, in secret, by groups of men and women.
Coined in 1973 by Liz Christy and her Green Guerrilla group in New York City, guerrilla gardening uses “seed grenades” as a way of introducing vegetation to empty lots in NYC in order to make the city look better. First made from condoms filled with local wildflower seeds, water and fertilizer, the use of these “bombs” was the start of the Guerrilla Gardening movement, which continues it’s activities today – both right out in the open during the day and in secret at night.
Over the years, their “bombs” have taken many different forms, from the first condom-filled versions to mud and clay seed balls to hollowed-out eggs filled with wildflower seeds, compost, and water. However they are made – and whatever they are made out of – the concept is the same: fill something throwable with seeds which can be tossed into empty lots. Sure, people do actually plant some of them, but I think throwing them is much more fun.
Imagine if everyone started guerrilla gardening in their hometowns, filling in all those empty spots and roadside tracts of land with flowers and/or food; sure would make this world a better looking place, no?
Participating in guerrilla gardening is civil disobedience without all the “going to jail” parts that so often come when trying to do the right thing for the environment. No one really suffers, the environment comes out ahead, and city lots get a makeover and are filled with beautiful flowers or edible gardens. Sounds pretty civil indeed, if you ask me!
Want to get involved in doing some guerrilla gardening of your own? You know you do! Over at GuerrillaGardening.org, their mission statement says that:
There is neglected orphaned land all over the place. Pockets of resistance have broken out in some areas as guerilla gardeners fight back to reclaim this precious resource and cultivate it.
At the site, you can find a whole mess of tips for getting started, such as:
Spot some local orphaned land.
Plan a mission.
Find a local supply of plants.
Choose plants for front line battle.
Bag some bags.
Once ready to get started, you can use the website to find local groups already working to make our cities and towns more attractive, or you can start your own “cell” to draft others into service. The community there shares pictures of their work along with a Facebook page.
If you happen to live in a major metro area, chances are there is a local guerrilla group looking for members. In Los Angeles, for example, Los Angeles Guerrilla Gardening is on a mission to plant 1,000 trees in Inglewood on January 26th, location TBD. Would you be available to help them out?
Not interested in doing your own seed bombing but still want to support the cause? There is a shop page on the website as well, where they sell books and lavender pillows to raise funds.
An important thing to note, should you be considering this type of gardening, is to only use seeds native to the area you live in. The last thing you want to do is introduce invasive species that could take over and potentially kill off all the native plants!
What are you waiting for – get started!
This reminds me of that wonderful children’s book Miss Rumphius by Barbare Cooney.
I’m glad they included the local supply of plants idea – last thing you want to do is introduce an invasive species!
Absolutely! That is most definitely the biggest concern with doing this type of gardening!
Sounds like an interesting concept and could be fun. But I’m curious as to whether they choose plants that are native to the area. I’d hate to be the one to introduce some plant that takes over the native ones – like the Spanish did in California with the mustard seed. They used it to mark their trail between the missions, but with the plant being really invasive, it’s everywhere now. Not that that’s a bad thing, per se.
Me neither. Those situations are horrible. Australia has the same issue. I would be careful to do my research first to prevent this.
I like the concept. Really, there’s no shortage of public, private, and in-between space that is neglected to some degree. Anything that removes urban blight is probably a good thing overall.
Amen to that! Cities are too often filled with vacant lots just asking for a “bombing” !
sounds like a great idea not just to make the city look better, it will also help fight pollution, which will definitely make every cities better places to live in. This is a great cause to be part of, but we really need to be part of the movement instead of doing things on our own, so that we will be better educated and prepared when we start doing it.
I agree. An example needs to be set for others to follow. We have to pave the way.
Sounds like a pretty bomb. 🙂 I’m with the other commenters – glad they suggest using native plants. I could do something very similar with the empty lots around here…
Let me know if you try it out. I bet it would look really nice.
This article made me laugh a little, this is probably the coolest eco-friendly rebellion I’ve ever heard of! If I lived in the city I would probably be an avid guerrilla gardener. This sounds out right fun. Just love the idea!
I think it is the coolest eco-friendly rebellion – and it’s available to almost anyone!
What an interesting idea! I have never heard of this.
I hadn’t either until David mentioned it.