• 6 replies
« on: May 03, 2008, 11:43:28 AM »
I've just read Richard Reynold's excellent book and I think we should all give him a big cheer for a job very well done  :)

Hip, hip...
no ism but organism

« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2008, 08:33:46 AM »

It's a relief to see it out there and people enjoying it. No more tweaks - it's been nearly 2 years in the making.

If you're a Facebook user please join the Fans group and spread the word!

« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2008, 04:45:22 PM »
agreed. its a lovely book and makes good reading for political science students and those studying land use issues... I hope it gets on the reading lists in universities...

On a particular topic... metro/nexus land up here in the North East. I've been gg the very much unloved metro land (of which there is much) for about 4 years... keeping it low-key and planting veg, fruit and flowers amongst the existing plants that are left over from the days when much of the land was dedicated to allotments(there are fab and prolific gooseberry bushes, raspberries, strawberries, currants that are at least 10 years old).  Becuase I live in an area that hasn't much going for it for younger folk,  during the 90s the land started to be used for a variety of teenage activities (some just get togethers, but also problematically for the local community - drug use and littering). As a result,  some of the allotment land was then bulldozed to get the kids off it - talk about blunt instrument. The land was in a sorry state. I applied 5 years ago to reinstate some of the land for allotments. I was refused and told it was going to be developed. This didn't happen and its unlikely as there is no access poitn that can really work. So after repeated attempts to go through formal channels, I've taken to doing it through informal gg'ing. I've seen metro workers on the line and they seem to turn a blind eye to my activities. But its pretty public. I can't really hide too well when the trains go past.
I was interested in your book to read the probelms people have when they go public, and your suggestion that often the best option is to just do it. I am beginning to agree - but I still have this niggle that it all seems so wrong that here were thriving allotments for years and years and that metro/nexus is not under the same kinds of rules that protected all the other allotments on council land many years ago... It just seems so WRONG, particularly as metro has done nothing with this land, and any other spots they get their dirty hands on they seem to turn into car parks and gravel pits. So much for their public advertisign that 'cities like people need places to breathe'.

I'd love to know if anyone out there has had any experience with nexus/metro/public transport authorities and gg'ing.

« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2008, 12:57:01 PM »
Well done on just getting on with gardening there, it sounds like a location with great potential, and yes it's a pity the Metro / Nexus have abandoned it. I believe many of this country's allotments owe their origin to Victorian railway construction, who were obliged or realised (not sure which of the two) that the odd pockets of land around their network would be good for gardens for the poor.

At least two of my mature guerrilla gardens are like yours on orphaned land that has been abandoned by a transport provider. Transport for London are responsible for many roundabouts, verges and central reservations but of course have other distractions, such as our ropey tube line and bendy buses to think about rather than gardening. I bumped into a horticultural contractor working for them and he was a miserable bloke who planted the Old Kent Road once a year with shrubs and then watched them die for lack of water and weeding each year. I had a fairly ridiculous run in with a Transport for London road surfacer late two night ago. He was working late on a big resurfacing job (bad timing on my part) and came over to us and said "what are you doing with my plants". Of course every single plant we were weeding around was planted by us, and I told him so. He was baffled and said we should stop, to which we told him he should clear off and get on with repairing the road. Fortunately he saw sense (well we out numbered him) and we got on with our different tasks in peace.

Perhaps, when you garden is more mature you could have another go going legit, but it sounds to me like it's easier for them to turn a blind eye and better for you to stay as a guerrilla, and to slowly spread the word of what you're up to with a sympathetic audience so that should they get difficult you have people on side. If the gardens' blooming marvelous or you've got a bumper crop get photos and post them up so you can inspire others and show how great it is.

« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2008, 06:21:45 AM »
Many thanks for that. Its good to know that even the transport bods get some of the flowery action.

A key issue with gg ing on metro land however, is that it is not public land - despite being run by a public transit authority. Unlike gardening on public space where you can be accused of criminal damage, I also can get 'trespass'. Legally, they can sue me for criminal damage and fines can be ?1000. I'm not too worried about this as when you read about trespass on metro lands its normally people who are behaving badly; people getting on to the tracks and putting themselves and others in danger. I'm lucky in that there is a reasonable buffer between my gg and the track. In English common law the owners of the land have the right to ask you to leave; and indeed you should if you are asked otherwise they could take it further. I've never been asked to leave.

A question I have though, and I'm not sure if its ever been tested, is what happens if I get asked to leave on subsequent occassions? I would be happy to pick up my trowel and go back indoors until things have calmed, but I'm not sure if I'd be getting myself in trouble if I went out the next day...

I imagine that your mature transport gg'ers are involved in public space? Have you heard of any trespass cases involving gg'ers?

« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2008, 06:24:32 PM »
I was asked to leave a patch once (quite recently, as reported on the blog) but we returned an hour and a half later when the coast was clear. So based on my own experience I'd just nudge forwards bit by bit, nudging back when it looks like things might get more nasty, think like a guerrilla edging through the jungle perhaps!?

Also I do believe common sense will usually prevail and if you're of little danger to yourself and of no danger to anyone else then why should they object? If you are very firmly told to stop then that's time to dig out photos of your transformation and start spreading the world whole heartedly to local media, influential people. Chapter 7 of my book On Guerrilla Gardening is called "Propaganda", and it's really important for when things get tough as well as for when you want to scale up. There I go into more depth about winning hearts and minds. Much of this was based on conversations with very experienced guerrilla and community gardeners in New York. I was also given a very detailed thoughtful book by Adam in the Clinton Community Garden which explains the journey of the community gardens in New York which you might enjoy. It's unfortunately very expensive on Amazon, (I wouldn't pay ?59 for it) but perhaps a cheap copy will show up some time.

On another subject, if you like, please do share your kind words below about the book on as a reviewer. It would be very gratefully appreciated! At the moment the two reviews there are from old friends, one of whom has gone rather over the top and painted a most ridiculous picture of us all! As you wish. Just click here:


« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2008, 09:55:29 AM »
Heres my amazon review... I hope it is ok.

 On guerilla's AND gardening, 10 May 2008

Richard Reynolds has produced a delightful handbook for and about committed gardeners around the world who `fight filth with flowers' to transform `orphaned' public land into community space. It is a beautifully conceived book and it is no surprise it took two years to draw together the wonderfully humorous yet deadly serious stories of those around the world who have taken up the mantle of guerrilla gardening. The book derives tools for this trade from more easily recognisable guerrillas such as Che Guevara and Mao. Though not condoning any particular politics, Reynolds uses the examples of history to tease out what tools have been used and are open to those guerrilla gardeners fighting their own `little wars' against misused land around the world. The book is spiced up with stories of the many guerrilla gardeners he has encountered and are engaging, humorous, fascinating and inspiring. They are not big stories in themselves, but rather it is the collective efforts of the many that creates the dramatic effect, and ultimately political movement, that is now termed guerrilla gardening.

The book is more than just a documentation of what has already gone on, it is in itself a productive force that will no doubt alter the landscape by its publication. It is a book that will help to legitimate the democratisation of land at a much more local and individual scale than is true of most of the famous political `guerrillas' he draws insight from.

This is much more than a book about guerrilla gardening and will be of interest to geographers, political scientists, and students of planning and landscape. It is a treatise on the use and misuse of space that challenges the reader to think about how spaces are conceived, used, abused and also how the legal ownership and use of that land is not as fixed as it may appear. Gardening in this book is more than planting; it is a tool for the democratisation of space.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2008, 11:42:27 AM by debedub »