Guerrilla gardeners ‘Gung Ho’ for urban greenbelts

The economy is struggling, gas and food prices are up, the water supply in California is down, many people are trying to go “green” and we are at war.

It’s hard to find a solution that may help ease our problems on all fronts. One solution groups accross the globe have turned to is a “guerilla gardening.” London, Berlin Miami, San Francisco and Souther California boasts roadsides beautified by native plants and vegetable gardens, according to the Los Angeles Times.

 These guerrilla gardeners have taken to streets under the cover of darkness, in the wee hours of the morning, to plant gardens in vacant lots, over-grown plots, freeway medians, street corners and any abandoned place that would serve better as a community garden.  

Gardening public land has not only been around for centuries, but was encouraged by our government during WWI and WWII. “Victory Gardens” helped to fill folks’ bellies and pockets during a time of war and they encouraged people to rally and accomplish something together — as a community.  

Growing native plants makes for a low-maintenance garden; succulents and the like require low amounts of water and attention.  Though they might be bright and colorful, non-native plants require much more time and water. Vegetable gardens can assist in lowering grocery and gas bills and they promote healthier diets.  

This may sound like a bunch of hippie nonsense, but instead of categorizing it as foolishness, we should be considering how to take a great idea further.  When it comes to being green, people are either for it, against it, or try to half-heartedly make an effort. We are now seeing that green solutions are becoming more and more necessary in our daily lives and the guerrilla gardening movement is great proof that a small group of people can make a difference.  

The guerrilla gardener’s goal is to beautify and utilize unused land. They garden in secret because they are afraid of legal repercussions. But recently Long Beach has seen a 10-year guerrilla gardener step out from behind the foliage and become known to city officials.  

Scott Bunnell has been gardening in the early morning hours for a decade. He has turned at least one Long Beach median into a green heaven. His gardening purpose is to show cities that maintaining a native garden is easy, cheap and can cut city-landscaping costs, according to the L.A. Times.  

Bunnell and his fellow militia also maintain city land by picking up trash that has been carelessly tossed into their community efforts.  Coming together with a common goal can only lead to good things. If this movement continues to grow we can soon expect to find people talking about what to do next.  

Then, as more and more community members become involved, the government might take notice and once again promote and support such acts.  This May, the Campus Progressive Collective presented “Bring it Back Forward,” a seminar that spoke of the healing elements of plants and the need to re-incorporate them into our daily lives.  

Plants offer us food and nutrients vital for our survival and if we continue to forget about them we may soon find ourselves in a Wall-E-like situation; seeking refuge in space because we can no longer survive on a plant-less earth.  

Kudos to the guerrilla gardeners of the world for taking on a problem, stepping forward with a solution and then actually acting on it. All of us could learn something from these efforts to improve our communities.  

It’s time again for Victory Gardens. It’s time for our generation to wakeup, standup and start “unpaving” the way by acting on practical solutions that are well worth a little time and effort.  Sean Canavan guerrilla gardens around his home in London. He plants and cares for more than one hundred plants he can’t see. 

In Canavan’s words, “I’m a blind person and I can do something like [this] with a street and you can imagine what a sighted person can be able to do.”  With a quick touch, Canavan knows what the flowers need and says he knows how they look.  

If a blind person can achieve this level of success, then anyone can. Can the world be saved by a garden? We will never know unless we try.

One Comment

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    Thanks for writing your opinions about the growing GG movement. I agree if people are going to attempt to guerrilla gardening need to understand there is a lot to consider. I use very drought tolerant plants Many, unfortunately, are not California natives. To keep cost down I propagate the majority of the plants I use in my gardens. If any one wanted to donate California natives for guerrilla gardening or if someone wants to participate in a guerrilla gardening project contact me at [email protected]
    aka bulbil321

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