Archives for posts with tag: guerilla gardening

This post originally appeared on the Pop Up City

Whether it be the emergence of GPS-enabled smart phone applications that promote a sense of tactile-ownership over the city, or the necessity caused by global economic crisis, a major trend toward do-it-yourself, bottom-up urbanism has emerged.

All over the world, citizens are taking responsibility for the form and functionality of urban space. Together, we are building our own infrastructure, creating our own services and truly taking the city into our own hands. To get us inspired for the upcoming Stadsklas, let’s take a closer look at some of the ‘best of’ these bottom-up strategies for new-style urban development.

Seed-Sharing StationSeed-Sharing Station

1. Pop-Up Seed-Sharing Stations

Hawaii-based Eating in Public’s Seed-Sharing stations are unmonitored installations that have started to pop up all over the USA and Canada. They offer a space for urban gardeners to exchange seeds and important information about how to best grow their fruits and veggies, and are a sign that urban farming remains a DIY movement at its core. Eating in Public offers a downloadable design guide, with a wide array of recommended models. The idea is that anyone can download the guide, and build a seed sharing station, anywhere in the world. Eating in Public encourages that the stations be placed in accessible areas with lots of traffic, so no one is deterred from participating. Each Seed-Sharing Station is equipped with envelopes, pens and pencils, so that seeds can be easily identified, and accompanied with instructions for best growth. All stations are built out of scrap and repurposed material, but maintain consistency worldwide with the Seed-Sharing station logo & Eating in Public website included on each installation. Each Seed-Sharing station is designed individually to fit the specificity of its context, showing how ‘local’ grassroots initiatives to improve the city are actually part of a global urban culture, with identical projects stemming from wide-spread ideas made possible by the Internet.

Tool Library

2. Toronto’s Tool Library

With the rise of the peer-to-peer economy, using has truly becoming the new owning. Along these lines, and in an effort to tap into all those power tools gathering dust in the garages and basements of the city, a couple of urban visionaries have opened Toronto’s first Tool Library — providing physical urban infrastructure to facilitate the borrowing of tools that would otherwise go unused for months, or years, to those who truly need them. Toronto’s Tool Library is one of many similar projects that have popped up all over North America, Australia and Europe. Tool libraries save their users hundreds of dollars, and a lot of closet space, and promote sustainability through resource-sharing. While tool lending libraries are not new (the first was in 1976 in Columbus Ohio), the recent opening of many around the world, with sleek design and easy to use websites, are beginning to appeal to a broad spectrum of city dwellers. They are also much more than a space for renting and lending tools. While sites like AirbnbShare Some Sugar, and Thuisafgehaald facilitate interactions between people that can happen anywhere, tool libraries are community hubs, marking a trend toward online peer-to-peer services that make use of centralized ‘storefront’ locations.

Fruit FenceFruit Fence

3. The Fruit Fence

Another food-based DIY solution is the the Fruit Fence – a small scale, hands on solution that has the potential for major change at the city scale. While guerilla gardening has been extensively covered by the Pop-Up City and other blogs, the Fruit Fence is notable as it is an essential DIY project, a hack – or urban intervention – that anyone can do themselves in their own city. The Fruit Fence is a planter bag that converts the ever-present chain link fence into a vertical urban garden. Planter bags are made of recycled building material and can be easily thrown over and hung from a fence. The best kinds of plants are the climbing types – green beans, peas, and strawberries – that add colour, scents and delicious tastes to the urban landscape.  If you want to take the DIY to the next level, the folks at Fruit Fence have designed sensors to be placed in the bags, alerting passersby if a plant needs water or fertilizer. Alternatively, these signals can be sent to community organizations via SMS. The Fruit Fence planter bag encourages a sense ownership over cityspace, and shared responsibility for taking care of the city.


In a series of six articles we’re exploring new forms of urbanism where bottom-up, DIY and spontaneity are key. Become a new-style city-maker with the Stadsklas (City Class), an action-driven summer course in the Netherlands organized by Stroom, that gets you ready to tackle urban issues in the 21st century.


cross posted from Spacing Atlantic

This summer across the country, the idea that vegetables can and should be grown in the city continues to gain momentum. Urban agriculture is a lot of things, but as a formal movement promotes local, sustainable food systems, renewed inner-city social and physical health, and a shift toward people-oriented urbanism. Inner city food production has obvious impacts on the urban landscape, creating pleasant productive spaces in otherwise unproductive, sterile land.

Halifax has many lovely gardens, many of which can be found on the Halifax Garden Network’s user-generated map. You can, of course, engage in urban gardening in a variety of ways, ranging from formalized municipal allotments, to semi-private community gardens, to straight up guerilla gardens.

The nexus of do-it-yourself city planning and urban agriculture, guerilla gardening is a reminder of the possibility and importance of informal urban design. With the eye of a guerilla gardener, a quick scan of any street in Halifax presents many plots of public and private land that have the potential to be reclaimed and transformed from barren, asphalt spaces into beautiful urban places.

On my regular bike trips to the Far North End, I have noticed the slow cultivation of an otherwise barren lot at Agricola and Bilby. Though I haven’t met them, it seems that an individual or a group of people have taken it upon themselves to transform what was (as some quick Google Street View investigative work revealed) an extremely desolate corner, into a lovely urban space.

 Many vegetables and flowers have been planted, and thoughtfully labelled to educate curious onlookers about the varieties of species grown there. Though the changes are few, the introduction of a variety of vegetation and DIY landscape architecture imbues a formerly neglected, barren corner into a space that is obviously cared for, and as a result, has become a beautiful place to be.

It’s not news that official urban planning in Halifax often leaves much to be desired. A history of decisions that have favoured developers and promoted car culture, Halifax has a notorious knack for destroying communities in the name of potential economic development and urban renewal. With the potential widening of Bayers road on the horizon, it’s obvious that official planning in Halifax, for now, will continue along its historically misguided footsteps, while the rest of the world experiments in progressive, community-oriented urban design.

Guerilla gardens, like the one at Agricola and Bilby, are one of the many ways that we can take shaping-the-city into our own hands. As the summer roars on and the gardening season reaches its peak, let us celebrate these fantastic guerilla gardens, reminders that we do not have to be the passive recipients of top-down city plans, but that we can be, and are, active agents in our cityscape.