Urban Guerrilla: Stealth Gardening to beautify public spaces

Are you like me when you pass by a public space that has been left to become overgrown or is need of desperate TLC from a green thumb and wish you could do something?  Well then you too can become an Urban Guerilla.  Guerilla Gardening is a movement that began over three decades ago by noble community-driven green thumbs who wanted to green their public spaces in an undercover way.

The Green Guerrillas were the first to coin the term guerrilla gardening.   But it was thanks to Richard Reynolds whose diligent Guerrilla Gardening efforts in England and  book “On Guerrilla Gardening” which has sold thousands of copies worldwide has popularized the movement.

On Guerrilla Gardening

On Guerrilla Gardening

Reynolds has a website which documents his stealth efforts and how he has enlisted thousands of people throughout the world to help beautify public areas of their neighborhoods including several videos documenting stealth Guerrilla Gardening efforts. Like this one showing efforts to green a corner London Guerrilla Gardening Elephant & Castle, London, Richard Reynolds

Reynolds and his efforts can also be followed on Twitter now where he regularly Tweets about his worldwide exploits about making the world a prettier place through adding gardens.

I have tried join in doing my small part; scattering several seed packets at the LRT stations and in abandoned flower boxes in Downtown Minneapolis.  Unfortunately we haven’t had much in the way of rain to help them germinate so this year they may not have been as successful.  But if all of a sudden you see a burst of color you know why, unless the hungry pigeons got them first.

A Minnesota Community for Guerrilla Gardeners on Reynolds’ website has been started.  Posted on the forum is an upcoming seminar on how to make seed bombs which can be tossed easily in an attempt to cultivate an area.  On June 7th the free Seed Bomb Workshop will be hosted at ARISE! begginning at 7pm.

Does the Guerrilla Gardening movement inspire you?  Perhaps you have left over plants from seed starting, or perennials that need to be split and can be shared with your community.   When you pass by the 38th Street LRT station or the corners of Nicollet or Hennepin in Downtown Minneapolis and start seeing flowers (those are areas I have been able to seed bomb)  maybe you will be moved to take action.

I always keep a packet of Sunflower, Cosmos, Columbine or Allysum seeds (the latter three from my own garden) in my purse to scatter in a place that could use a little colour, knowing those are easily direct-sown seeds and also, the flowers will re-seed themselves each season if given a chance to thrive.   It is a small start but there is always a chance to do more.

Are you ready to join the ranks of the Urban Guerrillas or even Suburban Guerrilla Gardeners?

6 Comments so far

  1. greg on May 27th, 2009 @ 9:12 am

    I would call this organic terrorism. Maybe that empty space of land was meant to be bare or overgrown.

    On Sunday’s On the Road, they profiled this guy they call "Johnny Oakseed" who has planted more than 1500 oak trees in Minneapolis. I was scratching my head the whole time. Is that legal?

  2. Fiona (quick13) on May 27th, 2009 @ 10:41 am

    "Meant to be overgrown?" You’re kidding right? Have you watched the videos on the Guerrilla Gardening website with the before and after shots? We’re talking about beautifying the city, not damaging it. Additional plants instead of overgrown turf helps absorb additional stormwater, which not only looks better, but is better for the environment. Cities have long ago cut landscaping budgets and property owners have abandoned efforts putting down mulch or rocks to avoid costs, there is no harm in citizens taking over where they have left off in order to produce a better place for everyone to live. Look at the efforts of the Midtown Greenway, where a public/private landcaping effort with native plantings was undertaken to beautify the area. Imagine if all the areas of the city had such care taken.

  3. greg on May 27th, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    If you guys are going private, I have a whole bunch of weeding needed at my place.

  4. tipper on May 28th, 2009 @ 8:41 am

    I haven’t seen empty spaces of land that were meant to be bare. They become overgrown because buildings are razed or projects don’t begin, not for some higher purpose. Having grown up near some gorgeous natural prairie, I don’t think that overgrowth and volunteer plants are a bad thing, but it’s a stretch to say it’s done purposefully, or that areas are left bare on purpose.

    Where I live, city code states that homeowners can’t have bare patches of lawn, since runoff will strip the topsoil and move it to sewers. For some reason, empty commercial lots appear to be exempt from this. If nothing else, plants in soil, wherever they come from, keep that soil anchored, and that’s a good thing.

  5. David (jacc) on May 28th, 2009 @ 11:33 am

    Sunflower and Cosmos are my standard annuals and I always have some seeds around. Though, there aren’t a whole lot of places in or near my neighborhood that are bare.

    I remember @Ranty did this last year along the highway with a bunch of sunflowers and wildflowers.

    I’ve noticed that sunflower bird seeds, which cose about $12 for a 25 pound bag can be just spread on top of the soil and a sunflower patch will pop up.

  6. emilysaysso on May 28th, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

    Hmm, I still need to find a use for the compost I’m making at my apartment, maybe I could do some guerilla composting to help the guerilla gardens grow.

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