Abigail Doan

GUERILLA GARDENING: Strategies for Greening the Hood

by , 02/06/08

Guerrilla Gardening, urban renewal, community gardens, Liz Christy, Green Guerillas, green space, seed bombs, nature graffiti

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.

Guerrilla Gardening urban renewal community gardens Liz Christy Green Guerillas green space seed bombs nature graffiti

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.

An organized, team-driven planting project aka a ‘cell mission’ might occur along a roadside median or stretch of row houses. A simple spoon with compost might also do the trick for the lone individual who wants to create an island of green near a naked telephone pole or lamp post. Seed bombs might also be tossed over chainlink fences, ala a serious eco-recipe that Christy and company originally concocted.

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.

+ Guerilla Gardening
+ Green Guerillas
+ Inhabitat article on Edina Tokodi’s Green/Moss Graffiti

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  1. Bubbi June 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

    There’s a screet about your post. ICTYBTIHTKY

  2. tgvaijizjuy June 1, 2011 at 11:05 am

    9c3qTu egreccdkxiwp

  3. Jaycee May 31, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    At last! Someone who understands! Thanks for psiotng!

  4. Loz March 13, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Hi, love this article and pics, hope it is okay if I have linked to you and put it up on my blog


  5. mr.stamen August 1, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    We are working hard in Los Angeles to green our city with a little guerrilla gardening. Check out what we’ve been up to


  6. dubster June 10, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I\’m all for seed bombing and restoring our cities, lets remember though that some plants can be very bad for the environment. Invasive species – although green – are actually not very.


  7. Let the seeds fall wher... March 16, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    [...] last article is about a rather radical approach to gardening called “Guerilla Gardening” by Abigail Doan at Inhabitat. It’s about strategies for greening city [...]

  8. oakling February 12, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I love guerrilla gardening and this certainly inspires me to keep an eye out for all the neglected parks in the neglected lower-income areas of Oakland… although maybe I should practice this stuff in my own yard first! But I don’t know about that sewer grate with the sunflowers; I hope that guerilla gardeners are keeping the original use of their gardening spaces in mind so we don’t clog up pipes or break sidewalks up further.

  9. landgrab February 11, 2008 at 11:11 am
  10. Abigail Doan Abigail Doan February 7, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Dear Eli:

    You might check/contact the Guerilla Gardening Community forum for information on a group near you: http://guerrillagardening.org/community/index.php

    They also have a “getting started” page which is very helpful: http://www.guerrillagardening.org/ggwar.html

    Thanks for reading!

    Abigail@ Inhabitat

  11. toronto February 7, 2008 at 12:44 am

    We have a branch of guerrilla gardeners, too.


  12. toronto February 7, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Toronto strikes again!

  13. Cubicle Dropout February 6, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Having grown up in a family that grew a good portion of its own food I believe gardening of all kinds is key to improving the world. Rock on!

  14. Eli February 6, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Do you know of any organization doing guerilla gardening in San Francisco? Also, is there some sight which lists guerillia gardening organizations by city or region?

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