Become part of a larger movement to reclaim food sovereignty (City Farmer News)

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Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin’ Mamas

Linked by Michael Levenston

By Mark Winne
Beacon Press
Publication Date: Oct 12, 2010

Winne challenges the reader to go beyond the popular rhetoric of “eat local” and instead become part of a larger movement to reclaim food sovereignty. Invoking the philosophies of great writers and thinkers including William Blake, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Winne writes about the importance of nourishing the body and the soul. The best way to do that, he writes, is by becoming connected to your food source.

Winne is not a food-purist. “I eat meat,” he remarks, “because I have yet to find much in life that competes with a tender rib eye accompanied by a good bottle of zinfandel.” However, his message about how to eat is clear: it is good to eat local, it is better to know the land or the animal that your food comes from, and it is best to grow it yourself.

Throughout the book Winne also maintains the importance of becoming involved in the politics of food, on the local and national levels. “It is not enough to satisfy your own desire for simplicity and good food, and to only be an informed food consumer,” he writes. “You need to be an informed food citizen as well.”


Guerilla gardening in Montreal : transformed a garbage-strewn vacant lot into a pretty little park and garden full of flowering plants, edible herbs, berries and vegetables (City Farmer News / The Gazette)

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Green Life Column: Guerrilla gardening in the city


Guerrilla gardening transforms a vacant lot in Montreal
Linked by Michael Levenston

I am just trying to give something back

By Michelle Lalonde
Montreal Gazette
Aug. 10 2010


During the past three summers, residents of a certain block of Delinelle St. in St. Henri have watched, first with skepticism, then wonder, as Torsten Hermann, Emily Wilkinson and friends have transformed a garbage-strewn vacant lot into a pretty little park and garden full of flowering plants, edible herbs, berries and vegetables.

The lot doesn’t belong to Hermann or Wilkinson, or any of the other so-called “guerrilla gardeners” who decided to get together and tend to this abandoned urban space. But the lot has been vacant for about 18 years, by Hermann’s calculation, ever since a fire burned down two row houses at the spot.

For years, the lot was overgrown with brambles and nettles, and treated as a garbage dump by passersby. The owner would send cleanup crews from time to time to hack down some of the growth, but the lot would soon return to its sordid state. Continue reading “Guerilla gardening in Montreal : transformed a garbage-strewn vacant lot into a pretty little park and garden full of flowering plants, edible herbs, berries and vegetables (City Farmer News / The Gazette)”

Small-scale gardening to combat desertification (Willem Van Cotthem)

Small-scale gardening to combat desertification and alleviate hunger and poverty

For years we have been promoting family gardens (kitchen gardens) and school gardens in the debate on combating desertification, alleviation of hunger and poverty.  We have always insisted on the fact that development aid should concentrate on initiatives to boost food security through small-scale family gardens instead of international food aid on which the most of the recipients remain totally dependent. Since the early nineties it was shown that developing countries with community gardens in rural villages, family gardens and school gardens, where people and children are able to grow their own produce, are better off than those who received food from aid organizations at regular intervals.

Locally produced fresh vegetables and fruits play an important role in the daily diet of all those hungry people in the drylands.  Take for instance the possibility of having a daily portion of vitamins and mineral elements within hand reach.  Imagine the direct effect of fresh food on child malnutrition.  Think at the feelings of all those women having their own kitchen garden close to the house, growing some classical vegetables and a couple of fruit trees.

No wonder that hundreds of publications on all continents indicate the success of allotment gardens in periods of food crisis.  See what happened during World War I and II, when so many families were obliged to produce some food on a small piece of land to stay alive.  In those difficult days allotment gardens were THE solution.  Today, they still exist in many developed countries and become more and more appealing in times of economical crisis. Continue reading “Small-scale gardening to combat desertification (Willem Van Cotthem)”

Pimp Your Pavement, Guerrilla Gardening and the Combat of Desertification (Brigit Strawbridge / Willem Van Cotthem)

One of my Facebook friends, Brigit Strawbridge, shared with us the following :

Pimp Your Pavement

is a project from

For six years I’ve been cultivating neglected patches of land in my neighbourhood of the Elephant & Castle. Driven by a life long love of gardening, a lack of a garden, and the fun of doing it in public I found easy opportunities in the abandoned flower beds, neglected traffic islands and tree pits near me. Since then I’ve gardened alongside hundreds of others and met a lot of inspiring people who are doing the same thing as me in corners of their community all around the world.

It’s my hobby, my passion and I’m keen to get more people gardening like this. The local overlooked landscape – in both meanings of the word – forgotten about but also in great view is a space in which we can make a very tangible and welcoming contribution to improving our local environment, both ecologically and socially. As a guerrilla gardener, blogger, author and talker on the subject, I’ve got plenty of people involved too, but guerrilla gardening is just a strategy, and the result can be all sorts of landscapes of varying scales and purpose, sometimes overtly provocative. I’ve noticed that enthusiastic newcomers can feel a bit daunted by expectations of enormous transformation and the risk of prosecution for criminal damage (even though both are quite unlikely)!

This campaign will be a way of giving people, particularly newcomers, a very tangible objective – transforming a patch of pavement and taking back responsibility from the local authorities who have plenty of other things to be concerned with on our behalf.

Pimp Your Pavement will be a more palatable way of inviting the authorities who are in charge of most of our pavements to participate in this grass roots enthusiasm. In cities around Europe (Zurich, Berlin, Amsterdam and to a much lesser extent London) I’ve seen how guerrilla gardening can change the authorities view of their responsibilities, and I’m keen that these examples are inspiration to encourage change in more places.

Explore these pages, join the Facebook Page, and if you’re already pimping pavements or helping people pimp pavements get in touch, share what you’re doing and let’s work together.

Richard Reynolds, 2010


Brigit Strawbridge wrote : Pimp Your Pavement; what a great way to bring nature back to our streets –

I reacted immediately and joined ‘Pimp Your Pavement’ at

where I read :

Transform a patch of pavement with a colourful addition of your own. Sow sunflower seeds in an empty tree pit, plant pansies in a derelict planter… the pavement is your canvas. Sow the seed, spread the word…

If we can ‘bring nature back to our streets’ and considering the success of ‘guerrilla gardening‘ in many countries, I sent the following comment to this Facebook page :

‘Guerrilla gardening being successful in the cities, even on the most incredible, infertile spots, it should be easy to grow some vegetables and fruit trees in the drylands of the developing countries too. Guerrilla gardening can pave the way to efficiently combat desertification, hunger, child malnutrition and eventually poverty by introducing small gardens around the houses of the rural and urban people. Let gardening guerrilleros reach hands and exchange their experience for the benefit of smallholder farmers in the drylands, in particular for their kids.  See the embryo of a kitchen garden in a refugee camp in the Algerian Sahara desert.’

2007 - Family garden in Layoun refugee camp (Tindouf area, S.W. Algeria, Sahara desert) - (Photo WVC)

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