Guerrilla gardening is technically illegal. It is often used as a political statement: by gardening in places neglected by the city council or government one can reclaim the land and do something which perhaps should have already happened. In this manner guerrilla gardeners are able to make a public statement and take matters into their own hands. This is where the law struggles with guerrilla gardening as it is often done on land controlled by the city. This means one needs approval from the owner or the city to alter these places and for this reason many guerrilla gardeners do their planting in the dark. However, few arrests have been made and the plants are easily destroyed if the city desires it so. Unlike graffiti artists, guerrilla gardeners usually don’t face opposition from the law.
As mentioned by another respondent, it seems like guerrilla gardening is very low on the law’s list of priorities to tackle. I found evidence of community support for the guerrilla’s efforts (see the article cited below), so there are likely few people who would even call the police to report a guerrilla gardener unless perhaps they were trespassing. In Britain, guerrilla gardening is believed to date as far back as the 17th century when a group of socialists called the Diggers fought for rights to use land for farming. Today, people “claim” unused bits of land for their own, surreptitiously plant seeds in the middle of the night, or toss seed bombs (small compacted balls of seeds, compost, and biodegradable materials that will sprout when wet) into unused spaces. One famous guerrilla gardener, Richard Reynolds, began planting in the roundabouts in Elephant and Castle, a rough neighborhood in London. When the council caught wind of what he was doing after he got media attention, “it was too embarrassed to ask him to stop, and sanctioned the activity as a form of community gardening.”
Fierce battles have been fought over guerrilla gardening. This article in the LA Times illustrates just one example.
Guerrilla gardening is, technically, illegal – trespassing being the most obvious reason – but as comitar said, the people who attempt it are already aware of that. Breaking the law in this instance demonstrates a political point: that people should be allowed to have a say over the land in their communities, especially when governments and landowners want to put it towards wasteful or environmentally destructive activities.
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