“Guerrilla gardeners” – Evening News article

Original article online at http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Guerrilla-gardeners-use-flower-power.5188638.jp

Guerrilla gardeners use flower power to tidy up city

Published Date: 21 April 2009
By Andrew Picken

THEY fight filth with flowers and waste with willpower.

“Guerrilla gardening” has arrived in the Capital after a group of volunteers took it upon themselves to transform a patch of council-owned wasteland in the city’s Southside.

The direct action movement is common place across the world and involves local activists taking over abandoned parcels of land in mainly urban areas and sprucing them up with plants or by growing crops.

The work at a crescent-shaped patch of land on Marchmont Crescent – now known as the “Green Banana” – has seen the grass cut and bulbs and even broad beans planted. The transformation has been met with strong support from nearby residents, who have donated plants or joined in with the clean-up.

Community groups today said the initiative had brought students and pensioners in the area together, while organisers today said they hoped the practice would spread across Edinburgh, with communities making attempts to prettify their own areas.

Theodora Bayly, 58, who lives in nearby Roseneath Place and is part of the Transition Edinburgh environmental pressure group, said: “I don’t have a garden where I live so I thought, why not make Edinburgh my garden.

“Everyone has been really supportive and we are trying to be sensitive with what we do so as to try and keep everyone on side.

“We started up in January by just cleaning it up and then we put in a few bulbs and have been adding other things as we go along.

“The council seem supportive and a lot of people have come out with donated plants or just offering cups of tea and support.

“It is all ages, from 18-year-old students to a 79-year-old retired botanist. It is such a positive thing to do and literally anyone can get involved – I am sure there are plenty of places across the city which could benefit from this.”

Started last year, the Transition Edinburgh network is a city-wide initiative aimed at reducing the Capital’s reliance on oil and reducing carbon emissions.

Susie Agnew, chairwoman of the Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council, said: “We are very supportive of this, they have done a super job so far and it is fantastic to see both students and older members of the Marchmont community taking part in this together.”

Guerrilla gardening is thought to have started in New York in the 1970s when a derelict private yard in the city’s Bowery Houston area was transformed into a garden.

Local Tory councillor Cameron Rose added: “If people are sensitive to the surroundings then I think it is generally a good thing to see a community-minded initiative like this.”

Anyone interested in joining the guerrilla gardeners can attend a Food for Thought fundraiser being held at the Meadows Bar on Buccleuch Street from 7pm on Friday.