Creating a personal garden can improve your health by reducing stress, benefiting mental health and providing exercise. Guerrilla gardening, on the other hand, beautifies neglected spaces and brings communities together.
What is Guerrilla Gardening?
Pirate gardening, also known as guerrilla gardening, is a rebel greenery movement. The Los Angeles Times refers to it as “part beautification, part eco-activism and part social outlet.” The movement is dedicated to sprucing up land without the approval of the owners. It’s conducted by volunteers and can be found in cities like Baltimore, Berlin, London, Miami, Portland, and San Francisco.
Modern guerrilla gardening began in New York City during the 1970s; however, the original idea comes from an earlier movement. During tough economic times in the 1800s Vacant Lot Cultivation associations were formed in the U.S. to “encourage residents to grow food on public land.” During World War I and World War II, the American public was encouraged to convert lawns into victory gardens for growing their own food, supplementing their rations.
Today, these garden campaigners are mostly taking over “nooks and crannies of public land” like medians, “tree pits” in the sidewalk, and even storm grates. These spaces usually feature floral plants, but there are some that also grow food which is available to the community. In a time when city budgets are shrinking and Parks and Recreation departments are understaffed, these gardens are appreciated by many people. Studies also show that these green spaces make “neighborhood residents feel safer while reducing overall crime.”
While guerrilla gardening has its benefits there are also great sacrifices. The movement costs the activists money, time and can also cause legal problems if the group is caught. There’s also the issue of occasional vandals and disturbances from locals. Secretly maintaining the garden (watering and weeding) after can also be a challenge.
Interested in Learning More About Guerrilla Gardening?
- Consider reading the testimonials of guerrilla gardeners that have come forward with their tales like Richard Reynolds of London and Li Tingbang of Harlem.
- Or consider visiting websites like GuerrillaGardening.org, PimpYourPavement.com, and HowStuffWorks.com to learn more about the movement and how you can get in on the action.