We need to increase localized food production. We need to feed the hungry and eliminate food deserts. We need to revitalize our communities and rebuild life systems. We need to work our bodies more and connect with the more-than-human world. We need more color and flavor in our lives. Always.
The solution to all these problems is the same — gardening. Unfortunately, few of us own sufficient land to grow much more than half-starved herbs in balcony pots. So gardening is out of reach for most folks. Legal gardening, anyway.
If you walk down any road anywhere in the world, there is unused land. There is land that is irresponsibly used. There is waste land. Wasted land — used, abused and neglected by owners whose only concern is wrenching a few dollars out of the property, leaving behind weeds, pests, trash, poison — a sickened land.
It does not need to be this way. There are people who want to care for the land everywhere. There are people who want to nourish themselves from the land and, in so doing, bring the soil back to life. Everywhere there are people who want to garden and everywhere there is land that wants to be gardened.
So I propose an idea: guerrilla gardening. If there is an ugly vacant lot begging for your care, then give it. There are many guerrilla gardeners in the world now. This is not a new idea. Many people are occupying the waste land around them and planting gardens in soil that they do not own. But we need more of this everywhere.
It’s time to ignore “property rights”, a nasty human idea that divests the property of all its own inherent right to live and steals from all those people around the property the right to derive a living from their home — all to enrich a few humans in monetary wealth. And what is property ownership anyway except a bit of paper nonsense? In what way does a human own land? Or a tree? Or a garden? Only if that human tends to it and nourishes it — and still it is not ownership, but partnership.
I’m going to suggest that you turn your backs on this foolishness. You need a garden more than the fools need dollars. So just take it. This is no theft if we don’t acknowledge human ascendancy over nature. So go. Take your seeds and saplings and plant them. Bring the soil back to life. Make beauty. Make happiness. Make food.
Of course, before you eat from your garden, make sure that whatever abuse the soil has endured is not going to poison you also. Do a soil test. But even if you find toxic dirt, don’t refrain from planting. Maybe especially in that case, because someone needs to bring that land back to life. So plant willows, maize, mustard greens, fescues, canola and other plants that are good at phyto-remediation for whatever particular nastiness is in that particular soil. You will be removing the poison and rebuilding the soil. In a few years, someone else can come along and plant a garden. You will be their hero. You will also be the hero of the land.
So join the guerrilla movement. Be a radical gardener. Spread health and nourishment and love in subversive ways. Plant hope. Plant the future. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your community!
©Elizabeth Anker 2021
What do you think about guerrilla gardening? Do you know a bit of land that needs your love? What is holding you back? Think about the reasons we are given to “respect property rights”. Are they valid? Do they mean anything to you? Do they mean anything at all? Especially in the face of the massive problems we face — both in taking care of ourselves and in fixing all the hurts we’ve spread across the land.
So it’s time to talk. The rules of engagement: No rudeness. Absolutely nothing foul. Also nothing personal. If you want to talk direct to me, there is the contact page linked on every post. Send me email. I like it. Most days.