Archive for the ‘Resistance is fertile’ Category
It’s the first of May today, and while the date has several important associations (notably Beltane or the first day of summer in the pagan tradition) as a “socialist Canadian” (as I was once called while travelling in the States), I like to remember that it’s also May Day.
I’m not going to take to the streets with placards today, but I will be rebelling in my own small way – sowing a few seeds of dissent through carefully-aimed seedbombs. I urge you to do the same. It doesn’t have to be seeds – try out some moss graffiti, or guerilla gardening, or dig up your lawn and plant some food.
Gardening is political. Resistance is fertile!
Operation: Moss graffiti
I led my first workshop yesterday! It was a Moss Graffiti Workshop for my guerrilla gardening group.
Following a brief slideshow and discussion about moss, graffiti, and moss graffiti, we made a yummy moss ‘starter’ (see the recipe after the jump). I had planned on brainstorming potential tags and artwork ideas, but everyone was raring to go and apply the frothy green mixture, so we just fanned out in small groups and pretended we were hooligans.
The moss starter goes on pretty much clear; in the top photo, Tim is simply embellishing someone else’s handiwork.
Highly recommended project – I can’t wait to see how all our designs turn out!
A brief history of the seed ball
Since Maryam asked so nicely, I thought I’d explain a bit more about seed balls (also known as “seed bombs,” among a multitude of other names).
Seed balls, simply put, are a method for distributing seeds by encasing them in a mixture of clay and compost. This protects the seeds by preventing them from drying out in the sun, getting eaten by birds, or from blowing away.
Seed balls are scattered directly on the ground, not planted. Self-sufficiency and sustainability website Path To Freedom says seed balls are useful for seeding dry, thin and compacted soils and for reclaiming derelict ground (which is why they are often used in guerilla gardening). Seed balls are particularly useful in dry and arid areas where rainfall is highly unpredictable. I like ‘em because they’re easy to chuck over fences into empty lots.
You can “sow” your seed balls on a sunny day – and just leave them. When sufficient rain has permeated the clay, the seeds inside sprout and are aided by the nutrients and beneficial soil microbes surrounding them. I put one (shown above) in my garden so I can track its progress and show my readers that – yes! – seed balls do actually work.
In fact, the seed ball method has been working for centuries. I’ve read that some North American First Nations’ tribes used seed balls. More recently natural farming pioneer Masanobu Fukuoka has experimented with them. And in New York City, seed bombs were used in 1973’s revitalization of the Bowery neighbourhood and the development of the city’s first community garden.
So there you have it. The Heavy Petal version of seed ball history. Now go play outside!
How to make seedballs
Seedballs: microcosms of the living world.
This past weekend, Al from my guerilla gardening group led a seedball-making workshop. I loved it; it was so satisfying just to get my hands muddy and spend a couple hours in a zen-like trance rolling seedballs… I highly recommend the process!
Here’s the recipe:
5 parts dry red clay*
3 parts dry organic compost
1 part seed**
1 – 2 parts water
We used a 16oz. plastic cup as a measure, which made enough for approximately 300 seedballs. After mixing together all the dry ingredients, we added enough water to form a mix that held together without crumbling but wasn’t so wet that it wouldn’t roll into balls. Pinching off small bits of the lovely mud, we rolled penny-sized balls and set them in trays. They will sit on my windowsill for three or four days until completely dry.
*Dry red clay: Yes, this is the stuff that potters use. Commonly it comes pre-mixed, which you don’t want. You want the dry powder so it can be easily mixed. I’ve tried using grey clay from a riverbank – it doesn’t work so well. In Greater Vancouver there is something called Red Art Clay which is available at Greenbarn Potters Supply Ltd., 9548 – 192nd Street in Surrey (604-888-3411). Try asking at your local art supply store.
**Seeds: Workshop organizer Al provided crimson clover, white dutch clover and wild flower seeds, while the rest of the participants donated appropriate seeds – I put in California poppy, nasturtium and cilantro. Al also suggested using the edible, perennial and drought-tolerant plants listed at Plants for a Future.
Here we are, rolling away.
One of these kids is doing their own thing.
More on seedballs:
Path to Freedom
Honour thy tree stump
Saw this upholstered tree stump on Boing Boing today and thought it would be a great public art project for my friends at the Vancouver Public Space Network to take up.
Artist Madelon Galland started the STUMP Project in New York City to “activate spaces that have been under neglect” and “participate with what is signified in a tree stump, a beloved life form that has been diminished.” Upholstering stumps, she says, ” is a gesture of caring and a posture of respect toward what is beneath our feet.” Sweet.
The project was inspired by the story The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, in which a tree has given of herself to the point of being diminished to a stump, but selflessly perks herself up to give to the last, by providing a seat for the beloved boy who is now an aged man.
From Madelon’s How To at SuperNaturale:
This really began as unauthorized public art, and is not intended as something to have, but rather as a gesture to give. The street stumps are anchored and framed with firm roots and city masonry as they are, and what we do is contribute, care, and dignify that which has been diminished thus giving vitality again to spaces usually below the pedestrian radar.
I’d love to do this. Maybe in the vein of Knitta Please, though, since I’m a better knitter than upholsterer.
As I mentioned last week, a guerilla gardening group recently formed in Vancouver. We met last weekend, and I’ve been thinking about how to introduce the group to Heavy Petal readers. You see, there are just so many cool people involved! It’s inspiring and exciting.
First, there’s our founder and fearless leader, Oren, a landscape architect with a focus on urban ecological design.
There’s Al, who some of you might know from his blog Urban Wilderness but who is now blogging from Al’s Bokashi Blog about Bokashi composting (Al, I must find out more about this!).
There’s Ward, the “boy” behind cityfarmboy.com, a company promoting urban farming and related products and services.
And then there’s David, who wrote a book called Guerilla Gardening, A Manifesto, coming out this April. He also operates EcoUrbanist and is Executive Director of Tree City Canada, a non-profit ecological engagement group.
So many fun, aware, and engaged people! I can’t wait to get up to some mischief with them. Join us!
Roundup dangers censored
Up for a little conspiracy theorizing this lovely Friday morning?
Check out Project Censored‘s Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007 (“The news that doesn’t make the news”). Of particular interest to gardeners, number 13: New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup:
New studies from both sides of the Atlantic reveal that Roundup, the most widely used weedkiller in the world, poses serious human health threats. More than 75 percent of genetically modified (GM) crops are engineered to tolerate the absorption of Roundup – it eliminates all plants that are not GM. Monsanto Inc., the major engineer of GM crops, is also the producer of Roundup. Thus, while Roundup was formulated as a weapon against weeds, it has become a prevalent ingredient in most of our food crops.
Three recent studies show that Roundup, which is used by farmers and home gardeners, is not the safe product we have been led to trust.
Um, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never “trusted” Roundup, or anything related to Monsanto for that matter. I do believe they are pure evil.
Read the rest of the Project Censored story after the jump.
Vancouver guerilla gardeners meet-up
I found out about a new guerilla gardening troop in Vancouver through the recently-formed Vancouver Public Space Network. If you’re a local and you’re interested in issues and advocacy surrounding public space, you should check them out. Sign up for their e-newsletter while you’re there. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse.
Anyhoo, this new guerilla gardening group is holding a Meetup, this coming Saturday, January 27 at The Foundation (7th and Main) at 1:00.
Register for the Meetup here. I’ll be the one eating the Upper Eastside.
Not from Vancouver? Find a gardening-related Meetup in your area.
Retail therapy week – day three
As long as you’re spending your hard-earned cash, you may as well spend it on something that’s good not only for your mood but for the earth, independent artists and the community. I love the symbolism and irony behind Plant the Piece, a shotgun-shaped seed bomb blasting annual and perennial wildflowers such as cornflower, Shasta daisy, Siberian wallflower, and coreopsis. Piece/peace – get it? This is definitely the best gun I’ve ever seen!
Created as part of a a traveling exhibition by Christopher Humes and Noah Scalin called Swords into Plowshares, Plant the Piece is available for sale here, along with your standard round seed bombs (shown below).
View the project gallery here.
Today is December 6. It’s been 17 years since a single gunman entered a classroom at l’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, separated the men from the women, and opened fire. Fourteen women died simply because of their gender. In Canada, we remember this as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
And when the murder of five Amish school girls just two months ago first made news, I had flashbacks to December 6, 1989. It was probably the first time I’d really felt afraid just because I was a girl. I had nightmares about it happening at my school.
So I’ll be taking a moment today to remember these young women, and the countless other female victims of violence worldwide. Please join me.