Flower Power back in town ? – Greening the City (Google / Deutsche Welle)

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Guerrilla Gardening – Greening the City

Picture 1 : Garden activist Julia Jahnke tends the Rosa Rose community garden in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain. She’s active in the city’s guerrilla gardening scene. Guerrilla gardeners, or garden pirates as some like to be called, see growing things in public spaces — often without permission from authorities — as a kind of activism. Some simply want to beautify the urban landscape; others see it as a political or environmental statement, wanting to raise questions about land ownership or encourage people to rethink their relationship with their urban surroundings and the natural world. The Rosa Rose garden, which was established by guerrilla gardeners on several vacant lots, flourished and eventually become a popular neighborhood meeting place. But authorities destroyed part of it earlier this year. The owner of one of the vacant lots it’s on wants to build an apartment building on the site. The gardeners would like to buy the other two lots to save the garden, but money is a problem.

Picture 2 : Guerrilla gardeners found three vacant lots in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain that had become something of a blight to the neighborhood.

Picture 3 : What was a small project by garden activists at first gathered steam as it attracted more and more people from the neighborhood. They worked together to create a small green oasis in the city.

Picture 4 : The Rosa Rose community garden in Berlin became a popular meeting place for people in the community. Neighbors would gather to spend time together or throw birthday parties. One couple held their wedding there.

Picture 5 : The non-asphalted areas around trees on city sidewalks, tree pits, are often used by bicyclists as parking spaces or dogs as toilets. Guerrilla gardeners think there’s a better use for them.

Picture 6 : A frequent target of guerrilla gardeners, tree pits bursting with green help beautify busy city streets. Ingeborg Neumann, 74, tends two tree pits outside her apartment in Berlin. She doesn’t identify herself as a guerrilla gardener per se, but in effect, shares some of the philosophy of the movement.

Picture 7 : Guerrilla gardeners like taking unused, often abandoned plots of land and turning them into small green oases. Here was a corner behind Berlin’s Natural Science Museum before the guerrilla gardeners launched their attack.

Picture 8 : The once-bare corner became a small green island amid a sea of concrete and brick.

Picture 9 : Guerrilla gardeners aren’t rejecting urban living; they just think could made better through foliage. In Berlin, though, as the construction boom continues, there are fewer and fewer open spaces for gardeners to do their thing.

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.