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Archive for Thursday, April 4, 2013

Garden Calendar: Guerrilla gardens started on neglected land need commitment

April 4, 2013

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Guerrilla Gardener Angela Clubb works on a freeway off-ramp in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles in June 2008. Getting approval to beautify public property can be cumbersome, so guerrilla gardeners in cities worldwide take matters into their own dirt-caked hands. The guerrilla gardeners who will be the most successful are most likely the ones who enlist the help of neighbors and make a commitment to maintaining the garden.

Guerrilla Gardener Angela Clubb works on a freeway off-ramp in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles in June 2008. Getting approval to beautify public property can be cumbersome, so guerrilla gardeners in cities worldwide take matters into their own dirt-caked hands. The guerrilla gardeners who will be the most successful are most likely the ones who enlist the help of neighbors and make a commitment to maintaining the garden.

Upcoming classes

• Gardening 101, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, pre-registration required, $10 or $15 if taken with Gardening 102 Aug. 24, Dreher Family 4-H Building, 2110 Harper St., Lawrence

• Spectacular Shrubs, 10 a.m.-11 a.m. May 15, Dreher Family 4-H Building, 2110 Harper St., Lawrence

• Growing Growers – workshop series and apprenticeships available, see www.growinggrowers.org

Please call 843-7058 or visit www.douglas.ksu.edu for more information about upcoming classes.

Have you ever looked at a neglected piece of land and thought about planting flowers or vegetables on it? Maybe just some wildflower seeds to spruce things up? If so, you could be part of a growing trend that is being referred to as guerrilla gardening.

Definitions of guerrilla gardening vary, but in general it involves people gardening on land that has been abandoned or neglected. To some, it is about political activism — making a statement about the neglect and misuse of land or planting food crops in low-income neighborhoods to address food accessibility issues. To others, guerrilla gardening may just be about beautifying a spot in the neighborhood. Guerrilla gardeners might even be thought of as modern-day Johnny Appleseeds. The rules vary with the situation.

In some places, guerrilla gardening “troops” throw seed bombs and garden in secrecy or the dark of night. One how-to resource even recommends rubber shoes as part of the proper attire. While this certainly sounds revolutionary, I think the guerrilla gardeners who will be the most successful are the ones who enlist the help of neighbors and make a commitment to maintaining the garden.

If you think guerrilla gardening might be up your alley, decide what you are hoping to accomplish and if you are willing to maintain it: Neglected plantings will probably have little effect on food sovereignty issues or neighborhood beautification. Even the aforementioned Johnny Appleseed knew this — despite the popular image of him spreading seeds, he actually planted tree nurseries and orchards and left them with willing caretakers.

Once you have made a commitment to doing more than planting, select a site. Maybe you already have something in mind — a bare spot down the street or a place you drive by every evening. Start with something small and close to home.

Next, ask permission to garden on the site, even if it is publicly owned land. Some of the resources specifically say guerrilla gardening is all about gardening without permission, but they also tell the stories of fruitful gardens being destroyed and gardeners’ time wasted. Asking can save you heartache down the road.

Enlist the help of friends, fellow gardeners and neighbors for the planting and care. If you are a gardener, know that you may have to teach some of the others for them to feel pride and ownership in the project.

Choose very hardy plants, especially if you are trying to beautify a site with poor soil and tough growing conditions. Be prepared to weed and water through the growing season. Even drought-tolerant plants may need some extra moisture to get started.

Have patience. Guerrilla gardening may have gotten a lot of attention in the last few years, but the concept certainly has history.

— Jennifer Smith is the Horticulture Extension Agent for K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County. Contact her or an Extension Master Gardener with your questions at 843-7058 or mastergardener@douglas-county.com.

Comments

George_Braziller 1 year, 5 months ago

The City of Lawrence isn't very "guerrilla gardening friendly." They aren't even keen on property owners to use land their required to maintain but don't own for planting anything other than grass.

I remember a Sound Off question when someone was asking about using the area of their front yard between the sidewalk and the street to plant a garden. The city rep who answered the question said that using the area for that was "inappropriate" and that it was "discouraged."

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gr 1 year, 5 months ago

Would this mean running your lawnmower over the area is inappropriate?

But why did they ask? It did say discouraged, so not prohibited.

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