Activism: Vandalism and Community

Its a sad state of affairs that public community gardens are often subjects for vandalism. There seems to be no rhythm or reason to it and often the action feels totally unjust. I’m unsure whether its the warmer weather and longer days but over the past few weeks I’ve been hearing of a few community gardens been vandalised. Its not so much that people are taking stuff without asking or helping themselves to a share in the harvest without putting in some work as well, but its that infrastructure goes missing or whole plants get taken.

Its a terrible state of affairs that we live in a world where ownership is so closely tied to feelings of security and identity. However, I believe that public gardening has a critical role to play in addressing these issues and offering an alternative.

Special thanks to the work going on at The Foraging Commons, here are some guidelines for how to engage with urban agriculture. Let’s call it appropriate urban agriculture etiquette.

  1. Take only what you will consume, leaving some for others
  2. Consume only those plants that you can recognise and know are safe for human eating
  3. Respect the natural cycle of the plants by harvesting only when fruit has ripened
  4. Respect the work and efforts by others by leaving public gardens as you have found them (or perhaps a little bit better)
  5. Do not harvest for commercial purposes
  6. Should you take, be prepared to give as well by planting in public spaces and caring for those edible plants already there
  7. Do not trespass onto private property without permission

So what do you think? Would you add anything?

Categories: Activism | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

About Juliette

When Juliette was little, she came home from school and asked her mum in her little teary voice why the other kids at school didn’t like her. Her mum reassured her and said 'Don't worry Juliette, you're just different. That's all.' Since then, aware of her obvious difference to everyone else, Juliette is spending her time doing exactly what people wish to be doing – exactly what she wants. This blog is a celebration of taking a deep breath and just doing it. Currently Juliette can be found sipping tea and gardening somewhere in Central Victoria, Australia with her beloved and their excitable boys. She is also completing her PhD in Civic Agriculture and teaches at RMIT in Sustainable Consumption and Design Activism.

7 thoughts on “Activism: Vandalism and Community

  1. I’d probably modify the first one to ‘what you can carry in your hands’. At the Food Forest, we suspect people will consume what they take but some come and harvest all of it.

    Also, we have people who damage the plants in their efforts to harvest. Pulling off branches and so on. We’re talking now about shaping the trees so this isn’t necessary (so food can be picked from the ground) but I reckon something along the lines of ‘respect the plants/trees – if you damage them they will produce less or maybe die altogether’
    We need to provide info for people so they can get involved if they want to and also let them know it isn’t just a council parkland tree plantation but something looked after by local people.

  2. Nice post Juliette.
    I’d probably change the first one a little to something like ‘take only what you can carry with your hands’. At the Food Forrest in West Brunswick, we reckon some people come equipped and strip the trees when they’re nearly ripe. They probably do consume it all themselves.

    I’d also maybe add one along the lines of ‘respect the plants and trees – if you look after them, they’ll keep providing, if you damage them, they won’t produce as much and might even die’.

    We’re hoping to come up with some signage to communicate this but we think it may need to be mainly pictorial with text in a few languages. It’s hard as we don’t have the skills in our core group but I’m sure we’ll work it out eventually.

    I think there would be real value in some sort of Creative Commons signage available for people who grow food in public spaces to use (wink)…

    If anyone has the skills and wants to help, love to hear from you. Happy to share whatever we come up with.

  3. I like em. The urban garden I volunteer at often has someone actually poop in it, since we’re located in San Francisco, which has a pretty big homeless population. I just wrote a post about it.


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