Guerrilla Gardening

Movement

The term guerrilla gardening was coined by Liz Christy, an artist living and working in New York in the 1970s. Inner-city neighbourhoods were in decline, the middle-classes had moved to the suburbs and the lack of investment resulted in the steady decline of public spaces. Christy noticed tomato plants growing out of rubbish, the tiny plants signalling a potential; she began scattering seeds in empty spaces and planting disused tree-pits. This effort eventually culminated in a community garden, on a vacant plot located at the corner of Bowery and Houston streets in Manhattan. What started as an illicit action soon became renowned and the Green Guerrillas, as they named themselves, were invited to help start community gardens elsewhere. The original garden eventually gained legitimacy and was granted community garden status, giving it protection from development.

Richard Reynolds, a guerrilla gardener based in London and founder of the eponymous website, describes his activity as 'the illicit cultivation of someone else's land'. Although the term guerrilla gardening is mainly associated with the US and Europe, it is becoming a world-wide phenomena linked in particular through Web 2.0 technologies. In England this movement can be traced back to the Diggers' fight for common land and the right to grow food in left-over and neglected spaces. Whilst the political ideal of common land that is owned collectively and accessed by all is reflected in guerrilla gardening, an essential difference remains. Guerrilla gardeners do not necessarily grow food, and for many it is not an act of survival, it is instead about the desire to beautify, to make a healthier environment, a communal space, to express oneself-or to simply garden.

References About

Diana Balmori and Rosalind Creasy, Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn: A Project by Fritz Haeg. illustrated edition edn (Distributed Art Publishers, 2008).

Richard Reynolds, On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries. (London: Bloomsbury, 2008).

Tracey, David, Guerilla Gardening: A Manualfesto. (New Society Publishers, 2007).

Peter Lamborn Wilson and Bill Weinberg, eds., Avant Gardening: Ecological Struggle in the City & the World. (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1999).

Quotes

'Lets fight the filth with forks and flowers.'
- Richard Reynolds, On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries. (London: Bloomsbury, 2008), p. 1.

But inasmuchas humans perversely keep on gardening whenever, possible, we might suspect that the garden (or the image of the garden) in itself constitutes a kind of resistance or refusal of agriculture. The nobles appropriate the pleasure of the garden just as they appropriate the pleasurable aspect of all outmoded economies, such as hunting. But the common people persist in gardening and hunting as well-that is, they defend their "ancient rights" to the commons, Everybody's park-and if denied the pleasure of hunting, they poach.

- Peter Lamborn Wilson and Bill Weinberg, eds., Avant Gardening: Ecological Struggle in the City & the World. (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1999), pp. 20-21.

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