When you walk by an underused and neglected park space in Peterborough, look for vegetable gardens and plants that are free to the public. Guerrilla gardening, a socio-ecological initiative to combat the neglect of unused land, is in our midst.
Nicholas Weissflog facilitated the initiative in his third year of Ecological Restoration at Trent. With six gardens in town, the initiative has become a success with the help of the friends he recruited to plant vegetables on unused public land. Four gardens reside in East City, and two just at Reid and McDonnel across from the West Bank bus stop.
Nick already works 40 hours a week at his other job, but tends to the gardens before and after his shifts. Arthur wanted to know why he decided to lead this intensive and time consuming initiative.
“There are a number of reasons Guerrilla Gardening is beneficial. One is that it combats the neglect of unused land that would otherwise just be a sod placement and such. From an environmental standpoint, it looks to make better use of land that has more value for people within a city setting, as well as eliminating hydrocarbons used in transportation.”
“Guerrilla Gardening is also about combating scarcity of land for gardening space as well. The vegetables grown are for the public to enjoy freely, addressing poverty and access to fresh and local produce.”
Growing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, the vegetables harvested will be donated to OPIRG’s food cupboard. Nick believes that those in need of it most should have access to fresh vegetables; many of those who rely on food banks cannot afford that luxury.
When asked if they seek permission from the people around the land before creating the gardens, he said it was part of the process to begin with.
“It wouldn’t happen without their consent. The idea behind it is to also get the community acquainted with gardening. The initiative aims to educate people on starting their own gardens as well, and those that aren’t familiar with gardening often get curious when seeing how easy it really is.”
Making sense to produce food in a local area, while eliminating the energy used to transport the produce, the gardens are an equitable distribution of benefits.
All photos by Zara Syed.