What Is Guerrilla Gardening?

From on June 19, 2008 in Landscaping

planter-box.jpgGuerrilla gardening refers to the practice of political gardening. Guerilla gardeners will overtake a neglected or abandoned piece of land in a non-violent act of protest to show that there are better purposes for the land and to bring attention to the problem.

Some activists work under the cover of secrecy in order to bring about change without prosecution, but many are more organized into groups that openly rally behind their cause. As the site GuerrillaGardening.org demonstrates, this environmental movement is quite organized all around the world. Guerrilla gardeners take their cause quite seriously, always on the lookout for pieces of land they can quietly improve. Once a target is spotted, the volunteers move in, laboriously weeding, cleaning, and planting bio-diverse plants, flowers, and vegetables.

SFGate, a subsidiary of the San Francisco Chronicle, discusses a situation where both the gardeners and their opponents had legitimate arguments: Guerrilla gardeners: when push comes to shovel. The guerrilla gardeners took over a privately owned vacant lot, planted a vegetable garden, and ran up excessive water bills at the owner’s expense. When asked to remove the garden, they refused, causing a standoff that finally resulted in the garden being forcefully removed. In this particular situation, the landowner wasn’t completely opposed to the gardeners’ mission, she just didn’t appreciate that the land she had purchased and was paying the property taxes on was being taken-over without her permission, especially when the liability and the water bill were her responsibility.

As with all environmental issues, a balance must be maintained. The guerrilla gardeners have a valid cause and their work is beneficial in many cases, but must at the same time respect the rights of property owners and the laws of the land. Even without getting actively involved, you can do your own part right in your own yard by keeping it the healthiest it can be.