Archive for the ‘Resistance is fertile’ Category

Guerrilla gardening mischief
Andrea Bellamy |

before and after guerilla gardening.jpgThis rocks. Sandy, a guerrilla gardener in Portland, Oregon, decided to modify her local Mercedes dealership’s “landscaping.” Possibly the best use of a strategically placed boxwood hedge ever. Love it!



40 ways to encourage more local food production

Want to change the food system? Here are 40 great ways everyone – from individuals to the government – can do so.

Some of my fave’s:

For individuals:
#6 Establish community canning workshops where people can work together to can food.
#8.Establish a Young Farmers Institute for the next generation of farmers.
#12 Encourage Community Fruit Tree Projects to harvest unwanted fruit, and have it juiced for sale and for fundraisers.
#13 Create a “Buy Local” label for use in retail food stores.

For municipal councils:
#18 Prioritize the use of local organic food at all city-owned events and facilities.
#23 Require the provision of food gardening space in all larger
development proposals. In smaller developments, require a development
cost charge payment to a Community Gardens Fund.

#25 Integrate ornamentals with edibles, bio-remediation, fiber and medicinal plants in city landscape planning.
#26.Establish a community-wide composting program.

For provincial/state governments:
#31 Prohibit the removal of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve without replacement with equivalent quality farmland.
#33 Remove regulatory barriers that prevent local stores from selling
locally grown dairy and meat products, and other barriers to producers
processing and distributing their products locally.

From Guy Dauncey and Carolyn Herriot via the 100 Mile Diet.


Berlin community garden destroyed
Andrea Bellamy |


Garten Rosa Rose, in Berlin, before.


Garten Rosa Rose after.

As a member of the Vancouver Guerrilla Gardening Group, and of course, through this blog, I am often privileged to be in contact with guerrilla gardeners around the world – a very cool feeling! The similar challenges we all face – and of course, the differences – are fascinating to me.

This week, Julia from Berlin emailed our group to let us know about the destruction of Garten Rosa Rose, a community garden in the Friedrichshain neighbourhood of Berlin. The garden, started by a group of neighbours in the spring of 2004, was situated on three adjacent vacant lots. That’s right – the gardeners didn’t own this space.

Julia writes: “The property had been sold last summer to an investor and the new owner never contacted us to let us know; we found out by chance. Despite a lot of moral support from different politicians, ‘nothing could be done’ since it is private property and we have a new fast-track building permit process here in Germany. We have been trying to buy the property ourselves for years but were too slow in getting the money together…”

On March 14, the gardeners of Rosa Rose were evicted by police, a real blow “as the first flowers are just blooming and we are still harvesting winter vegetables and herbs,” says Julia. The account of the garden’s destruction is shocking and sad, and my heart goes out to these Berlin gardeners.

I know there are some people that will say, “but it wasn’t their property – what do you expect?” And part of me recognizes that part of being a guerrilla gardener means accepting the transitory nature of your plantings, and the possibility that your plants could be mowed down by the City tomorrow. But still, I find what happened at Rosa Rose disheartening. I can only imagine how the gardeners must feel.

I wonder if this would happen here in Vancouver. On one hand, despite the rapid pace of development, the City officially has a positive attitude toward community gardens. There’s the Green Streets program, for example, as well as a project to see 2010 new community garden plots available before the 2010 Olympics. And the City was open to a collaborative effect between gardeners and Onni Developments, in which a community garden was temporarily established on an Onni-owned lot downtown. (The gardens will exist for one or two growing seasons or until the development permit is approved for condos.)

On the other hand, money talks. And if green space is in the way, look out. Ultimately, developers have greater sway than do community gardeners. A forcible eviction – such as happened at Rosa Rose – isn’t unthinkable here. When will we value community and green space over the almighty dollar?

In true guerrilla fashion, the gardeners of Rosa Rose haven’t given up and are trying to raise enough money to buy the property back from the developer. To learn more or to help, visit their website.


Moss graffiti – alternative method
Andrea Bellamy |


Moss skull-and-crossbones by Ladybird at the Instructables.

I came across a step-by-step guide to creating moss graffiti at the Instructables that is different than the other two methods I’ve seen before: painting a moss slurry onto a hard surface (which I’ve tried, unsuccessfully), and removing living chunks of moss and placing them in the desired pattern. Rather, it’s kind of a combination of the two.

Basically, Ladybird recommends using the moss slurry mixture to start your graffiti on a layer compost in a seed tray. You then keep it well misted until established, then transfer to its final display space. Makes sense, and probably give your graffiti a fighting chance.


Moss art by Edina Todoki

moss_art.jpgCheck out this new brand of moss art by artist Edina Todoki I found via Inhabitat. Todoki, who describes herself as a “culitvator of eco-urban sensitivity,” says of the project, “City dwellers often have no relationship with animals or greenery. As a public artist I feel a sense of duty to draw attention to deficiencies in our everyday life.”  


Some are calling this moss graffiti. It certainly seems like a more successful method than the “moss paint” method I tried. And it’s certainly eye-catching and attractive. I just have to wonder where all that moss came from. I hope it wasn’t wild harvested in such quantities. Wouldn’t that be kind of ironic? What do you think?

On another note, I read this blog post detailing a guerilla art project, and I am so inspired to do the same! Anyone care to join in? 


Take that, Monsanto


Percy and Louise Schmeiser took on Monsanto. Would you?

Congratulations to Canadian farmers Percy and Louise Schmeiser for receiving the Right Livelihood Award in recognition of their struggle against agro-chemical giant Monsanto. The Right Livelihood Award (“for outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people”) was awarded to the Schmeisers “for their courage in defending biodiversity and farmers’ rights, and challenging the environmental and moral perversity of current interpretations of patent laws”.


Here’s the story:

In 1998 Percy Schmeiser and his wife received a letter from the US agribusiness giant Monsanto claiming that they had used Monsanto seeds without a license in planting their 1997 crop. However, the Schmeisers had never bought Monsanto seed nor intended to have it on their land. It turned out that some Monsanto ‘Round-up Ready’ genetically modified canola (rape) seeds had blown over from the Schmeisers’ neighbour or from passing trucks. Thus, genes that Monsanto claimed to “own” under Canadian patent law had ended up in the Schmeisers’ seeds.

Monsanto threatened to sue the Schmeisers for ‘infringement of patent’, seeking damages totalling $400,000 (CAD)…

The Schmeisers took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and then some. They’re suing Monsanto, “claiming that Monsanto-“owned” genes are to be regarded as contamination” to their own crops. Ballsy. And so very inspiring!

Read more here.

Photos: RLA Foundation.



Seedball progress
Andrea Bellamy |


Regular Heavy Petal readers know that I’m really into seedballs, those muddy little balls of floral love.

The first sowing I did this year was disturbed by construction, so I recently launched a second attack. The teeny results are beginning to show themselves in these photos.


For a more advanced idea of what seedballs can do, I point you toward one of the Vancouver GGG’s (that’s Guerilla Gardening Group’s) seedbomb projects, a median in a busy on-ramp:


There was barely 2″ (5cm) in which to “plant” the seedballs, and yet, what lovely results!


The last two photos are borrowed from Al. You can see more of his GGG photos here.


Hogan’s Alley guerilla art
Andrea Bellamy |


I want to tell you about a really inspiring guerilla art project and accompanying blog.

Though I have lived in Vancouver almost all of my life, I’d never heard of Hogan’s Alley until a member of the Vancouver Guerilla Gardening Group put out a call for help with an installation for the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project.

Hogan’s Alley was the first and last neighbourhood in Vancouver with a substantial concentrated black population, and prior to 1935, was a happening red-light district. It was demolished in the 70s by the construction of the Georgia Viaduct.

The Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project is a grassroots cultural organization dedicated to keeping this history alive; one of their members, artist Lauren Marsden, spearheaded this floral tribute to the neighbourhood. She writes, of the project:

The civic powers write — sometimes in floral text — messages welcoming you into the municipality. But what about the unofficial spaces? Those that were not named by the city, but named themselves? The municipalities within municipalities? The lost ‘hoods? The ghost ways?


Red impatiens welcome you to the old commuity. If you’re in the vicinity of the green space near the Dunsmuir Viaduct, at 200-block Union Street — the old site of Hogan’s Alley — check it out. Hopefully they last through the summer.

The Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project’s blog is a fascinating look at this forgotten neighbourhood.

Images from Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project.


Guest blog: Sustainable Harvest International


Heavy Petal has a guest blogger today: Jessica Schessler, a college student interning for the summer with Sustainable Harvest International, a very cool non-profit organization that helps Central American farmers create sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn farming. Jessica is helping to spread the word.

By Jessica Schessler

Becoming green and saving the environment has become quite the hot topic. Plenty of well-intentioned people and organizations try to remedy these issues at home and abroad as well, but where some fall short is making sure that the programs they place are not just good for the Earth, but for the people in the area as well. Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) has worked with nearly 1,000 families and 900 students in Honduras, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua implementing alternatives to slash-and-burn farming, the leading cause of rainforest destruction in the region since 1997.

As a result of these programs, SHI, along with the farmers have:
* Planted more than 2,000,000 trees.
* Converted 6,000 acres to sustainable uses, thereby saving 30,000 acres from slash-and-burn destruction.
* Improved nutrition through the establishment of more than 200 organic vegetable gardens.
* Increased farm income up to 800%.
* Built 165 wood-conserving stoves (saving 1,650 trees per year).



What is guerilla gardening?
Andrea Bellamy |

I often find myself explaining guerilla gardening, and often I question whether I’m getting my description just right. This e-mail from Richard of is just the thing to clear the confusion, and I thought it was well worth reposting here.

Dear Troops,

On 18 May Anna from Vancouver enlisted at She is Anna 3000, our three thousandth guerrilla gardener. With this milestone, with the Northern Hemisphere summer approaching us and with a flurry of guerrilla gardening in the news again, it is time we looked at ourselves and asked WHAT IS GUERRILLA GARDENING? Should some one ask you I suggest you put in three minutes of study now by reading on, so you can reply to them with one sentence.

I shall assume we all know what gardening is. The question is what makes it guerrilla gardening rather than just gardening? Last week the New York Times and The Times in Britain reported the incredible two-day turfing of London’s Trafalgar Square with 2000 metres of grass as “Guerrilla Gardening.”

It looked amazing (we can debate this ecologically questionable short-term gesture another time), but was it really guerrilla gardening? It was done at night, it was incongruous, it turned a stone square into
something green… but does this make it guerrilla gardening? Not to me. It was a legitimate marketing stunt, funded by the London tourist board and installed by professional gardeners – it was what is commonly called guerrilla marketing.



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