Guerrilla gardening is an increasingly popular movement in the gardening world that involves people gardening on land they don’t own, largely to improve the appearance of local communities. The land guerrilla gardeners choose is often land that is abandoned or neglected by its owner, and in areas and neighbourhoods with unsightly plots of uncared for land, guerrilla gardeners are hard at work to turn the neglected pieces of land into something more beautiful and useful, such as a flower bed or food crops.
What is Guerrilla Gardening all about?
The goal of this movement is to improve the appearance of public spaces and reduce the amount of unsightly unused land; however, guerrilla gardening can also have political motivations as well. Some environmental activists refer to guerrilla gardening as a nonviolent direct action, meaning it is an act that gives them the chance to repurpose abandoned and neglected land for something better. Typical targets for guerrilla gardening projects include land such as vacant lots, underused public squares, railway land and back alleys, and it’s done without the land owner’s knowledge or permission.
Turning land into green spaces for the community
The history of guerrilla gardening can be traced back to the 1960’s in Berkeley, California, where an unused patch of land near a university campus was turned into a green space by the community. Today, guerrilla gardening is practiced around the world and the British-based website Guerrilla Gardening documents projects from all corners of the globe. Reynolds published a book entitled On Guerrilla Gardening in which he discusses gardening activity in more than 30 countries, and his blog regularly features different gardening projects from around the world. He has also given advice to gardeners who want to garden on a budget.
Guerrilla gardening is popular in highly-populated, dense cities such as London, Washington D.C. and New York City. Residents who were frustrated by the growing number of unused and neglected spaces, whether a small foot path space or a large, vacant lot, decided to band together and do something about it. By planting beautiful flowers, an herb garden, or a vegetable garden, they were improving the appearance of their communities while putting the land to use.
May 1 has been named International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day. Created by guerrilla gardeners in Brussels, it’s a day when people around the world come together and plant sunflowers in neglected spaces such as bare roadside verges and empty tree pits. Guerrilla gardeners hope that by participating in this community activity, it will inspire people to become more involved in the world of guerrilla gardening.