LA Times on guerrilla gardeners

The LA Times reports on the guerrilla gardening movement, in which people make and maintain gardens on property that's not theirs.

Shown above, a photo by Gina Ferazzi of a batch of "seed bombs," used by guerrilla gardeners to quickly plant seeds on the sly.

Scott is a guerrilla gardener, a member of a burgeoning movement of green enthusiasts who plant without approval on land that's not theirs. In London, Berlin, Miami, San Francisco and Southern California, these free-range tillers are sowing a new kind of flower power. In nighttime planting parties or solo "seed bombing" runs, they aim to turn neglected public space and vacant lots into floral or food outposts.

Part beautification, part eco-activism, part social outlet, the activity has been fueled by Internet gardening blogs and sites such as, where before-and-after photos of the latest "troop digs" inspire 45,000 visitors a month to make derelict soil bloom.

Link (via Ramshackle Solid)


  1. Who said a Disgusting idea?

    Really? Making our world more green and lush is a disgusting idea?

    Property is loaned to us by the earth. we ought to treat it as such.

    I love the idea of forcing a rebirth with planting frenzies!

    Go Guerrilla gardeners!

  2. That was a great article, with a great ending. I visit LB often enough that I can check this out, perhaps this week. The cactus garden sounds inviting.

  3. #3: Have you never heard of a little notion called ‘the commons’? Let’s just say it’s not just for intellectual property anymore.

  4. Awesome, I was a founding member of the Miami group, Tree-0-5 (305 is our area code).

    Kevitity, it’s usually run-down urban lots that are full of weeds, stones, garbage, etc. Planting trees and flowers there is doing no harm. We also try to strictly use native plants.

  5. There’s an island in the 405/101 interchange (in the San Fernando valley, just north of LA) that would make a great flower garden – but you would have to replace water containers to drip irrigate whatever you planted. I was thinking about this when I noticed that although it would be impossible to surreptitiously visit this spot with a car (or, presumably, on foot); a motorcycle would do easily. On the other hand, carrying much water on a bike isn’t really convenient. Hmmm.

  6. imagine if people randomly sowed fist fulls of cannabis seeds everywhere… no organized crime profit motive, the death of the tranquillizers industry. the emptying of the prisons…. hell, even if every free human planted just one pot seed in a public place…

  7. We got ‘caught’ putting in a guerrilla garden on a derelict lot near street car tracks. The transit cops just told us to have fun and not get too close to the lrt tracks.

  8. @ Takuan – I thought it would be funny just planting hemp everywhere – confuse everyone.

  9. TAKUAN, I considered such an idea a few months ago. It doesn’t seem like a difficult idea to get rolling, so to speak.

  10. Geez. People have been doing this since I was a little kid. And you don’t have to be all “guerrilla” about it. Nobody cares, especially if the lot has been vacant for a while.

    /I guess once the hipster doofuses (doofii?) get onto something, it’s becomes noteworthy. Maybe they should go for the whole ball of wax and call it “EXTREME, GUERRILLA ECO-ACTIVISM”. Maybe put an “X” in there somewhere.

    Why not plant vegetables like everybody else does?

  11. imagine if people randomly sowed fist fulls of cannabis seeds everywhere

    Some people put pot seeds in balloons, fill them with helium, and release them.

  12. TAKUAN, Been done, of course. I was part of a guerrilla ‘Save The Seeds’ group in CA. Our biggest ‘plant’ was the mayor of Monterey’s flower garden. We greened the hell out of the area for a few years. Regular Johnny Potseeds, we were.

  13. Takuan @9 “hell, even if every free human planted just one pot seed in a public place”

    (apologies for the obviousness, but) Even then, you still wouldn’t be able to get decent dope in the USA.

  14. My only concern is about safety: What is someone
    planted a garden in soil contaminated with toxic
    metals or chemicals?

    Otherwise, it is a very good thing. Property rights?
    Is there a ‘right’ to leave unmaintained, derelict
    property in an urban area? What does leaving property
    in such a state do for the community.

    I don’t think putting marijuana plants on other
    people’s property is a good idea. It puts them
    at risk of having their property taken away.

  15. Random (but prolific) sowing of pot would result in random patches of hemp. Not many people know how to put hemp to good use these days; once common farmstead knowledge, now the sort of lore you google for. A good thing, though; I’m not arguing against it. But it isn’t competition for Sea of Green tech.

  16. @18 You can get the soil tested if you’re really worried and it doesn’t matter if you’re just planting flower.
    Re the marijuana – plant it on city land first and then everywhere Critical mass right? Think dandelions . . .

  17. Once upon a time, I surreptitiously planted ~500 avocado seeds around an estate. I hope at least one grew.

  18. @takuan: as far as i know, the guerilla gardening movement has its roots in pot planting – on the balcony of a police station, where it went unnoticed for months :)

    i’m no guerilla gardener, but i did it once, together with my sister. there was a guy she liked, and he liked to relax under a tree on the old university campus in vienna and eat bananas.

    so we bought a tree (not a banana tree), organized a spade and went to the old campus after midnight. there we dug a hole, planted the tree and decorated it with bananas. sadly, it was march and still snow lying around – not the best time to plant. we knew it wouldn’t survive, but it was more of a symbolic action. and yes, he liked it a lot (they’re still together for about 4 years now). it also was a great thing riding around in public transport with a tree and a spade – a lot of strangers started to talk with us, how great trees are, and where we got this lovley one :)

    a couple of days later the tree was removed, probably by the (city) gardeners, but we expected that.

    what we did NOT expect was that they re-plantet it a few days later! sadly, it was ultimatley removed some days after that, probably because the plant died.

    i even have pictures of the “incident”:

    another story (if i remember it right, i can’t find the link to the story anymore): guerilla gardening is not very popular in vienna, because it’s already quite a green city. despite that, two undergrads (not us!) tried it, but with the blessings of the MA42 (the viennese garden magistrate). after some time, it was destroyed (the suspects were some teenagers who always hung out in this park). the girls didn’t blame them, but asked them to help repair it, and it worked great – the kids really liked it!

  19. if it becomes a commonplace occurrence that marijuana be found planted on property without the property owner’s knowledge, then case law and precedent are established which could be used as defense by others later.

  20. Holy Crap!
    I have been doing this for years and never knew it was a movement.
    I live in a tiny village in the middle of New Zealand. My wife and I moved here from Australia for a lifestyle change. When we got here, we discovered that my earnings were about 1/4th of what I earned in Aussie.

    Not a problem if we were both working, and with no dependents. But she was pregnant with our first child.

    I planted a vege garden, and I hunt, so our food bill was lower than it could have been.

    One day our garden was wiped out. We had torrential downpour over four days that wiped out the seedlings. So I foraged.

    We live in an area with less than 200 residents, and over 600 holiday homes. I searched a lot of back yards (I know, trespassing, mea culpa.)
    I found a lot of wild vegetables, so, to feed my family, I took them.
    Then I re-planted. And kept harvesting and re-planting.
    Then I marked the position of all of these places on my GPS.
    During this time, I also noted a lot of fruit trees and nut trees that were either on public land or not being harvested.
    I marked these on my GPS as well.

    The things that survived well seemed to be limited, so I expanded my efforts, and planted on empty lots, and also marked these.

    What amazed me was that other people were harvesting the produce as well.
    For example, there is a large house here that has been empty ever since I got here. It is apparently owned by a North American businessman who barely uses it.
    I picked his apples one year. (Thanks!!) But came back next time to find them gone.
    I have found people harvesting herb gardens I have planted, and told people of mushroom fields I use.
    I harvest around 90% of our fruit and veges. Half of that from my own garden, the rest foraged or as a result of guerilla gardening.

    I had a neighbour knock on my door and ask if I was the one harvesting his garden, I said yes and offered some form of payment for what I had taken.. He declined, and asked me to water his flowers, and keep an eye on his boat.

    Awesome movement.

  21. @Tak #25

    I understand what you are saying, but I would never do that. (Honest officer)
    Public property is cool, and if seeds “happen” to blow over the boundary, then, damn!


  22. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which
    produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very
    little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered
    from bad breath. This made him ….a______________

  23. Kiwis are a bit chewy.
    Pigs, deer, rabbit, turkey, pheasant and goat are in my freezer at the moment.

    Haven’t been brave enough to try hedgehog and possum.

  24. The other day I was mowing the lawn and stepped on a morel mushroom the size of my fist. It was past its prime, so no waste. last I saw, these were like $50/lb or more when you can get them. If you haven’t had them, fresh morels are fungal ecstasy. In previous years I have harvested dozens of them from around the roots of the old spruce trees but this year I didn’t look. I could have all the mulberries I want, but I kill every mulberry tree I see because the mess on the ground is unbelievable, to say nothing of dark purple bird droppings on everything for weeks every year.

  25. Oh, Takuan… you heard no doubt about the longevity researcher and his need for seagull meat to feed his unusual porpoises… the only pun I know that can compete with the one you tendered.

  26. Awesome place to live and bring up kids Tak.
    Place I live in barely shows up on google earth.
    Don’t want to out it here though.

  27. Unfortunately, I can’t get google maps to run on ubuntu yet.
    Look up Kinloch, Taupo, New Zealand.
    That means I show I guess.

  28. I meant the pun, of course I would never ask anyone to reveal the site of their nest and young. What I do enjoy doing is trading places of heart stopping beauty with others. A moment….

  29. 49 08 08.20 N
    123 47.60 W

    tie yourself in the rocks mid channel (brisk current) and float half submerged. The orcas and sea lions dine around you

  30. and the previous link is an island in the Pacific off Japan you may wish to visit one day

  31. …the poor researcher had his grant cancelled, had to put his subjects into his backyard pool, and had to make quiet seagull-hunting expeditions to the coast to keep them fed. But as long as he did this they kept on living, showing no signs of age.
    One day as he was off hunting gull meat, the lion escaped from the local zoo. People were ordered off the streets; volunteers were patrolling the town. The scientist heard nothing of this (his car radio was busted). When he returned home, collected his gull meat, and headed for the front door, he was confronted by the sight of a sleeping lion stretched out across his welcome mat. As he quietly opened the door and cautiously stepped across the lion he was siezed and arrested by federal officers for violation of the Mann Act.
    Transporting gulls across a staid lion for immortal porpoises.

  32. a super-calloused extra fragile mystic hexed with halitosis

    help me with these bodies…

  33. sigh, I wish someone would “guerilla garden” my little rocky strip of ground by my patio.

  34. watch closely:

    “(lingering,feminine) sigh, I wish(!) someone(bold) would “guerilla garden”(italics) my little rocky strip of ground by my patio(in quotes).

    it’s all in the wrist

  35. i dont know, but it looks to me like…two obese Pattys, ‘special’ Ross, and Lester Cheese who picks his bunions on the Sesame Street bus! -el scrrrrrrrewfly

  36. oh High
    Costello, seeds? in pot? i been lookin, but i haven’t found one in many years. otherwise your idea is hempalicious! OW!

  37. really? when I google “mail order cannabis” I get many, many hits – some that may even be non-DEA

  38. Cloning is the thing; the Sea of Green tech I referred to above. Done properly, no seeds. Increasingly common. Finest kind, in the words of Hawkeye.

  39. I bought a couple kids at my school’s Student Senate Slave Day and made one of them pull up pine saplings and plant them on the school grounds. I guess that makes me a guerilla gardener.

    Only one weak little guy is still there. They’re been mowing around it for me.

  40. sad, the genes most desired should be kept in seed format and thereby available to posterity. The Waronsomedrugs Industry is having a GMO business effect. Not good.

  41. I’d prefer people grow flowers and vegetables over pot. Not everyone finds pot aesthetically pleasing.

  42. Marihuana is a beautiful plant in it’s own right regardless of it’s various uses (such as making paper, rope, parachutes, protein replacements, sick people feel better, and stoners.) Help fight the war on drugs, grow more pot.

  43. My sister went to William & Mary, which is one of the older schools around. The place was sporting some awesome ivy patches growing on the hundreds-years-old walls and buildings. I took a few cuttings and transplanted these in random locations around the student neighborhood at Georgia Tech. Fast forward ten years, these had taken root and spread gloriously.

  44. I for one think it’s awesome this practice is getting so much hipstery attention and is becoming less and less of a fringe activity.

    EVERYONE should be a guerilla gardener!!

  45. That is genius! The natives never had property deeds, they all contributed to making the land sustain their community. There is nothing wrong with producing food on stagnant land, especially in this day and age of the hundred mile diet, Al Gore and the Green movement in general.

  46. you….spread….Hedera….Helix…..???

    I just sped things up a little. It would have gotten there eventually.

  47. Oh and Takuan:

    Once the Brewers, that well-known Wisconsin baseball team, were playing against a team that had a really great pitcher named Mill Famie. Seeing as they were in Beer Town, the Brewers came up with a strategy to defeat the pitcher. They kept on sending over free drinks to the dugout every time he threw a strike. Mr. Famie took this as a great compliment and drank every beer the Brewers gave him.

    Eventually Mill got so tipsy that he couldn’t throw a strike to save his life, and the Brewers won the game. After that, the brew that helped them out against the famous pitcher became popularly known as…


  48. the brew that made Mill Famie walk us…..
    I suppose in some cruel, cruel way I deserve that…

    as for you Tekna, one day when the vines come for you in the night, remember your folly

  49. Next step: hide a grazing mammal at home to eat and compost the neighboors’ grass.

  50. This is cool and all, my only question being whether or not there is care being taken not to spread the invasive weeds that are typically hawked in most wildflower seed packets. If you are gonna do this kind of stuff, you should take it upon yourself to research the flora of a region before jumping into that delicate balance with something that could crowd out any and all native species(i.e. grape hyacinth…ugh!).

  51. #24, buddy66: “Jesus! 500 avocado seeds must have weighed 5 tons.”

    Approximately 2 ounces each… 1000 ounces… 62.5 pounds. Doable, especially if you put the seeds into a couple of large tote bags, so you only carry a little over thirty pounds in each hand.

  52. Yup I’ve been doing this for years. I usually go around to San Francisco bus stops in some really cruddy places and plant flowers once every Spring. In fact, I still have sweet peas growing in a few stops in the Mission…

    For more info people should check out this site:

  53. #47 Eustace (and Takuan),

    Wasn’t he the same researcher who was caught three years later after his arrest, running along that same beach where he got the seagull meat, but this time force feeding the nesting terns massive amounts of PCP?

    I heard he was arrested, again, for that little stunt … something about not wanting to leave no tern unstoned …

    (Ducks quickly)

  54. <muted trumpet>


    </muted trumpet>

    seriously, loving the puns.

  55. @#79
    “Doable, especially if you put the seeds into a couple of large tote bags, so you only carry a little over thirty pounds in each hand.”

    “Doable” for Ah-nuld.

  56. As an ecologist, I worry about people not being smart enough to avoid spreading invasive species, which is becoming a huge problem. And then someone here confirmed that it is a serious concern–I can’t believe someone would spread English ivy. yeesh. Do you know that it is next to impossible to get rid of once established and that it is absolutely smothering natural areas in the Pacific Northwest? I didn’t think so.

  57. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing
    in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about
    an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse.
    “But why?” they asked, as they moved off. “Because,” he said, :____________

  58. “I can’t stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

    bwaaaaaahahahahahaha. killing me over here.

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