Guerrilla gardening is essentially the act of engaging in planned or random acts of gardening, without permission, on other people’s property. This organic anarchy is spreading throughout the world, virtually unrestrained. The exact motives of the perpetrators are largely unknown. The loosely organized guerrilla gardener cells have so far only explained their ideology in terms of wanton beautification and reckless food production.
In nearly every urban center and throughout the countryside, vacant lots, abandoned railways, back alleys and other unused areas have become targets of guerilla gardeners. In some cases, these sinister incidents involve only minor plantings of marigolds, sunflowers, dahlias and similar decorative items. However, in some areas, activity has escalated to include the unauthorized introduction of vegetables, shrubs and even trees.
While most reports detail simple propagation of natural articles, guerillas in some clandestine gardening operations have even been known to remove trash and debris in the process. In more severe instances, repairs and painting have taken place without proper approval. These events are on the rise and future plots are considered to be imminent.
Adding to the troubling nature of the guerilla gardening situation is the fact that these acts are so easily carried out. Anyone with the radical desire to engage in these kinds of activities can do so with very little training and without considerable effort. By using common materials bought in any gardening or department store, a criminal cultivator can mount an attack. Shovels, seedlings and fertilizer are still legal in many states. Militant gardeners continue to be successful in blocking bans of their sale.
Some guerrillas operate under the cover of night, while more brazen members of this movement have been witnessed defiantly practicing their craft in the open light of day. In fact, as their numbers grow, they have been known to actually hold public rallies in mass efforts to alter and improve unguarded patches of land left unattended by the legal owners. Perhaps in fear of reprisal, some community leaders have simply looked the other way pretending that guerilla gardening isn’t growing their town.
At present, it has been next to impossible to capture and prosecute suspects. In most cases, an absent landowner is not even aware of being a victim of floral abuse and the crimes are never reported or investigated. Law enforcement authorities in some communities simply don’t have the manpower to pursue every guerilla with a trowel. Sometimes the threat is allowed to grow due to rampant public apathy and latent love of gardens.
It is of crucial importance to know what to do should you come in contact with these vegetation vigilantes. You should never attempt to confront or otherwise interfere with one of these guerillas. While no injuries normally occur during attacks, these outlaws are known to be armed with gardening implements and heavy bags of seeds. If you encounter any of these people, leave the area immediately and do not return until after the fall harvest when they likely have moved on.
photo of guerilla gardeners at work from flickr user ecodallaluna