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FOCUS: Guerrilla Gardening by Kathryn Sharman of www.katgotthecream.blogspot.com/


When you hear the words guerrilla gardening, what springs to mind? Is it an image of a hooded individual furtively planting flowers in the dead of night or a more visible display of protest, reclaiming an unused public area with trowels and spades? Or maybe you’re not really quite sure what it is.


According to Richard Reynolds, founder of www.guerillagardening. org and one of its most passionate advocates in the UK, guerrilla gardening should, ideally, be neither.


“Regardless of the political situation, there will always be a need for guerrilla gardening because it is a way of quickly and clearly demonstrating what you can do with the land. But the ultimate aim


34 | ukhandmade | Spring 2011


of guerrilla gardeners should always be to eventually gain permission to garden on public land on their own terms. Pothole gardeners are more short term activists, trying to provoke a reaction rather than change the situation long term.”


The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens describes guerrilla gardening as a type of anarchic direct action where gardeners identify a disused, neglected or abandoned piece of land - which they do not own - and use it to grow either crops, flowering plants or to create wildlife areas. The aim is simple: to rescue land from perceived neglect or misuse and give it a fresh purpose.


The activity originated in New York in the 1970s and was viewed as illicit


criminal damage of public land until its proponents persuaded people of its effectiveness and were given permission to continue lawfully. Reynolds was involved in a similarly successful example of guerrilla gardening himself in Berlin in 2002, in a place where the land needed action due to demolition. As a result of their endeavours, they secured permission from the local authorities to create a new community garden.


Sometimes it’s not always that simple and local landowners or councillors can be obstructive to the aims of guerrilla gardening, however worthy, simply because their activities are still considered to be illegal.


“It’s frustrating considering the whole “big society” and “we’re all in it together” mantra of today,”


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