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Guerilla gardening

Guerilla gardeners sow seed bombs worldwide

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by: M.Thornley
Tags: guerilla gardening, seeds, health news

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(NewsTarget) Where blighted or abandoned land sits idle in vacant lots or on street meridians, under park benches or in the bare areas under trees, look for a latter day Johnny Appleseed to take aim. Under the radar of city planners and police, they may call their covert activities pavement pimping or guerilla or stealth gardening. Although their activities are peaceful, they may utilize to some extent the language of warfare. It is a war conducted against wastelands.

Guerilla gardening is not new. Activists began to turn disused lots or abandoned properties into areas of growth and rejuvenation enjoyed by an entire community in the early 70s.

In Long Beach this spring, a self styled guerilla gardener received media notice for his ``commandeered`` street meridian where he`d kept a garden for several years. Working in early morning hours, he converted the Loynes Drive asphalt jungle and other sites around Los Angeles into ``a lush collection of agaves`` and ``lime hued succulents.`` Home owners have encouraged his work, and he incubated many plants there, moving them to other ``unapproved`` gardens.

He has had his ``unsanctioned`` gardens wrecked by thieves and he has also been questioned by police. But, he says, ``You just take a deep breath and go back to it.`` Asked why he bothers with all the work, expense and having to dodge authorities, he replied, ``I`d like to show cities that they can use plants like these, not have to water as much and cut down on landscaping costs. Within two to three years, a site like this can generate thousands of plants.``

In London, Berlin, Miami and San Francisco ``free range tillers`` conduct seed bomb runs at night without approval on land that is not theirs. They make neglected spaces ``floral or food outposts``.
Erick Knutzen, author of `The Urban Homestead` refers to this activity as pirate farming. It is a reaction, he claims, to ``the wasteful use of land`` in vacant lots and sidewalk parkways. The parkway in front of Knutzen`s home is a vegetable garden.

Dwindling green space, limited land and suspect food sources combined with a ``time honored American tradition of gardening public spaces`` spurs this movement. In the 1890s many American cities formed Vacant Lot Cultivation associations in response to an economic meltdown. Also, during World Wars I and II Liberty and Victory gardens were popular. Americans were encouraged to raise food on untended public land. In today`s economic and food crisis, revisiting this tradition by utilizing vacant land seems more than sensible.

A weapon of choice is the seed bomb.

Seed bombs are compressed balls of seeds, clay and compost. This ancient concept originated in Japan as ``tsuchi dango`` or ``earth dumpling.`` Revived in the 20th century by the philosopher farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, seed bombs are under consideration as a method of reseeding vast areas with trees.

Lobbed onto bare soil in abandoned lots or construction sites, the small, slow release bombs can explode into bloom. These hand grenades can be now purchased like candy from vending machines.
However, seed bombs should not be used for vandalism or coercion. Invasive plants should not be introduced into native habitat. Whoever uses a seed bomb should consider the potential plants` environment.

The advantage of using seed bombs is that seeds of very light weight can be launched into inaccessible areas without being scattered by the wind. Also, the bombs are made using compost, humus, green manure, and tea and coffee waste with natural binding materials such as paper pulp and clay which helps assure the seed a good start.

Fosdick, D. (2011). Seed bombs used to offset blight. The Washington Examiner. 07/21/2011, p. 25.

About the author

M. Thornley enjoys walking, writing and pursuing a raw vegan diet and lifestyle.

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