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Back to October 2016 Newsletter

A Little Undercover Gardening

Suzanne Hanna

I’ve always wanted to be part of an underground movement involved in clandestine missions under the cloak of darkness. Be assured I am no spy or terrorist­ – heck, I have always been a law-abiding citizen with a community conscience. But when my 50th birthday came along some years ago, I had an insatiable urge to do something crazy, like taking part in a revolution. So that’s just what I did. I joined the movement, and have been sneaking out at night with bags of seeds and vandalizing the city.

No, I haven’t flipped out entirely. I have simply enlisted in the Guerilla Gardening movement. Many groups are encouraging citizens to do some “covert planting” in their neighborhoods during the summer and fall­ – a kind of graffiti involving nature instead of an aerosol can ­– to help return concreted areas to their former state of life-giving land.

The Guerrilla Gardening movement was born in the 1970's as a result of fanatical gardeners who sought to beautify or alter the world at random, despite property lines and defined spaces. Originally a means of protest, it is now perhaps seen more as an easy and gratifying means of altering the landscape with the use of seeds and plants.

This fall or next spring, you can choose your medium to do a little guerrilla gardening. Perhaps you might like to go door to door and offer people tree seedlings and information to encourage them to reforest the city, one tree at a time. Or how about practicing a little urban reclamation by planting in abandoned lots, street boulevards, railway embankments, golf courses or car parks?

All you need to do to participate in an urban adventure is arm yourself with trowels, seeds and vision, and plant mini gardens everywhere and anywhere. Get together with neighbors and brighten up an overgrown area with bulbs, native wildflower seed or medicinal herbs. Turn pavement and gravel back into growing spaces. It’s a radical concept worth exploring.

Guerrilla gardening is an easy, no-experience-required form of protest that is non-confrontational and inexpensive. It offers cheap thrills for those of us who like to plant by flashlight and, although you can potentially be charged with trespassing if caught on private property, no individual or group has been charged to my knowledge. Most people will look the other way if you are only planting and not committing an act of destructive vandalism. Bring a friend or two along when scoping out potential sites and doing a little covert cultivation.

By practicing random acts of beauty, we can make flower power go a long way. In any case, let me know how it all turns out for you. In the meantime, I have to get into my cat burglar suit and grab my trowel...

Suzanne Hanna is the Chair of Seeds of Diversity's board of directors.


Back to October 2016 Newsletter

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