Saturday, July 23, 2011

Guerilla Gardening?

Despite my passion for native plants and edible landscapes (read permaculture), I make most of my living as a gardener by mowing lawns on foreclosed homes.

Although it is amazing what will stay alive in Utah's hot, dry summer in an unirrigated landscape, it is more amazing to see what food manages to survive. On a recent Monday I ate wheat, mulberries, and raspberries from empty houses.

Last year grapes, strawberries, walnuts, apples, and peaches were all on the menu in season. Not all of them were in prime condition, but most were very good.

Apricots, not quite ripe.
But that's the funny thing about unused properties, they are every bit as good as the ones the rest of us live on. They just aren't getting the same care.

Of course any care would increase the quantity and quality of the food.... You see where I'm taking this don't you? If every foreclosed or abandoned house had a neighbor or two that were 'helping', that is taking care of watering, pruning, or even planting, how much food could be produced?

Raspberries, I already ate the ripe ones.
Now, before I go any further, I must note that for this to be legal the property owner or their agent must give permission for such wild activities. The permission is hard to get and even if you get it, there is no protection for the plants or those who kept them alive when the house is sold.

Under the best conditions you would still have to share it with me and my fellow workers. Under the worst you could be prosecuted  for trespassing or other criminal activities, if you did not get proper approval.

But for the time being let's say it is taken care of, and good land is being put back to good use. If there is too much food produced, share it with the local homeless shelter. Nearby apartment dwellers could be invited to work plots and make better lives for themselves.

I realize that I sound utopian, but the reality is that anything not being used will deteriorate and crumble. By using it we make the world a better place.

Am I dreaming? Definitely, but since that is the only way to get to a better world, I'll stick with it. Would you like to join me? It will be worth it.


  1. You know, if some of those made it to my place on a weekend there could be arrangements made for jam.

  2. I haven't got enough volume yet.

  3. I have harvested fruits, nuts, herbs and vegies both from foreclosed homes and public land in the Central Texas and North Florida areas. So far I have been either ignored or thanked.