Guerrilla Gardening is a Kind of War, with Plants
At the hearing of the word ‘guerrilla’, you certainly think of those rebellious soldiers hiding in shadows of forests or abandoned buildings. You have an image of someone angry looking for revenge because of his/her own beliefs are not supported.
Guerrilla gardening represents a certain kind of fight: it is a fight for greener environment, brighter cities and happier people. They, however, use seed bombs instead of the real ones, and shovels are their only weapons.
From Diggers to Richard Reynolds: the History of Guerrilla Gardening in the UK
Gerrard Winstanley was the one that foreshadowed today’s numerous environmentalist movements, one of them being guerrilla gardening. He strongly believed that common land should belong to the poor.
Therefore, he made an agrarian organization called ’Diggers’’ that cultivated the area around the river Thames, until they were forced to dispatch after a lot of legal harassment by the authorities.
This colony lasted only a year (1649-1950) but had a great impact on social consciousness. The main goal was to get more land on which the labouring could grow their food, which they normally could not buy because of prices that staggeringly increased.
Then, we have a movement in 1969 made by students in Berkeley, California. They did their own guerrilla gardening by transforming a downtrodden parking lot into a ’people’s park’’. Unfortunately, they got involved into a conflict with the police and even one student was killed.
What does this have to do with guerrilla gardening? Richard Reynolds, a Londoner disappointed with the gloominess of concrete environment, refers to this student riot as the seed of modern guerrilla gardening. Out of a simple wish to live in a more pleasant environment, he became the world leader in Guerrilla Gardening.
Richard Reynolds and his Ideas
Richard Reynold has been using his green fingers for 12 years and is still going strong. He says that guerrilla gardening is about tending shabby patches of public land and wants everything to look like Italian Piazza.
He also strongly believes that political support is not necessary to take action towards betterment of society. It is all within us and there is no requirement to ask developers and higher-ups for something that can be nothing else but advantageous for society.
He is the founder of many movements, such as ’Pimp your Pavement’’. The main goal is to change the authorities’ view of what their priorities should be and about the guerrilla gardening in general.
Reynolds had his own clashes with authority. When certain developers were preparing to cut down some trees, Guy Manners (a writer from London) and Richard launched fiery protests. The ending result was a temporary Grow Elephant community garden that he managed to get after long negotiations.
Reynolds did guerrilla gardening all over the world: Berlin, Libya, Montreal…He even wrote a book ’On Guerrilla Gardening’’ that describes this movement in 30 different countries, and even runs a blog that gathers people from all around the world and gives them tips for guerrilla gardening.
Other Important Guerrilla Gardening Movements in the UK and their Innovative Fighting Ideas
Reynolds is not the only one dealing with the problem of derelict and plant-deprived cities in the UK. George Monbiot, for example, is famous for living on the land originally bought by Guinness along with 500 other people.
‘Reclaim the Streets‘ organization is also famous for for Protesting on Parliament Square. This turned out to be a whole festival with samba dancers performing, Critical Mass bikers rushing around and rising a maypole. After all of this, they guerrilla- gardened this area.
Ideas that Oppose Guerilla Gardening in UK
Martin Allen wrote a blog for Guardian under the name “Guerrilla Gardening in UK as a sign of Failure’’. He lays out some ideas about how this movement is breakdown of society who can’t establish an understanding communication with higher-ups.
He claims that they are trying to play the system instead of fighting it and talks about people who manage to do the same thing by causing less disturbance. Apparently, there are groups such as Britain in Bloomers who are granted tools, new plants and even seminars and advice from experts for gardening. These people do not have to stealthily go out in the night just to rave in gardening.