Adventures in Guerrilla Gardening

bpwa_harvestwalk07_persimmon-hachiya.jpgI’ve already shared how enamored i am with the idea of guerrilla gardening (“gardening in public spaces with or without permission.”). I’m eager to start some projects, but I want to do it right so that my efforts will not just get mowed down or uprooted. Last week I was driving around east Waco to get to know the neighborhood better and scope out potential sites for some subversive planting. I was also looking for residents with a lot of well cared for plants who might be allies in greening up their area (sharing plants, knowledge of the neighborhood, etc.).

My boss had previously explained to me what “green tagged” and “red tagged” meant for buildings. If a building is “green tagged” it cannot be occupied until certain repairs are made to the structure. If a building is “red tagged” it is condemned. No one is allowed to live in it and it will be demolished. I did see one lady sitting on the front porch of a red tagged house. I’m sure people continue to live in condemned houses when they don’t have other options.

My boss pointed out a green tagged house that had a tree falling over with ripe persimmons. In my tour through the neighborhood I decided to see if I could harvest some of the fruit. I pulled over and walked up to the gate in front of the house. There was a chain around the gate. So, I decided to nonchalantly hop over the fence. As soon as my feet touched the ground I heard the deep bark of a large dog. There was at least one resident at this property and he was guarding those persimmons. I judged how long the leash was he was on and decided the persimmons were not worth rabies or loss of limb. I quickly hopped back over the fence and went on my merry way.

There are perils to urban foraging. I think many of those dangers are helped by getting to know your neighbors and building relationships. Just beware when scoping out places to harvest that when you hop a fence you should be ready for anything. In these parts that can include shotguns and pit bulls. On the other hand, what would life be without some adventure.

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