Guerrilla Gardening By Bicycle in Holland
January 7, 2014 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
The Dutch love gardening as much as they love cycling. So it makes sense that friends Mathieu Halkes and Olaf Lemmers combined their mutual passions for the two, blending urban gardening and cycling with another of their interests: guerrilla gardening.
The two began guerrilla gardening by bicycle, planting bike gardens in public spaces.
Last spring, the young men equipped their bicycles with wooden crates which they’d filled with soil, dafodils, pantsies, and other plants and flowers they’d purchased from their local urban garden center in Utrecht.
With materials in tow, they rode together to a city parking lot where they planted some mini gardens. Each little garden also sported a little flag mentioning their blog, Tuin & Balkon (Garden and Balcony), along with a nice spring message for other bike owners, “Spring is in the air, enjoy the ride!”
“We’d had a long and cold winter, so we wanted to give people an instant happy spring feeling when they returned to their bicycle from a day of work or a long train travel,” Halkes told me.
Two Urban Gardener Bloggers
Halkes maintains a back and front yard urban garden in Utrecht, while Lemmers gardens five floors up on his rooftop terrace in Amsterdam. In their quest for cool garden and balcony ideas to write about, the two say they find all kinds of things they would love to have some day when they have an acre plot to garden. “But until that time,” explained Halkes,”we write about gardening on a smaller piece of land, sometimes on wood or concrete. Simple right?”
Documenting Guerrilla Gardening Exploits
In another one of their guerrilla gardening exploits, Halkes and Lemmers placed some of their planted bike crates around their local garden shop, then videotaped people’s responses. “People in the city got really cheerful when they saw us putting gardens on bicycles,” the duo noted, “and some passing cyclists shouted from their bikes that they wanted one as well!” So you see the impact guerrilla gardening efforts can have, right?
They expanded their efforts by planting more mini-gardens in bike crates at the central train station of Utrecht. There was no shortage of bikes to plant at the station, where thousands of people park their bicycles to commute by train.
Halkes and Lemmers have also become participants in International Sunflower Day, a global guerrilla gardening event that takes place every year on May 1. Since 2008, people from all over the world have participated in the action after guerrilla gardeners in Brussels decared it the day for people everywhere to plant sunflower seeds on disused public city plots. Famed British guerrilla gardener, Richard Reynolds of guerrillagardening.org, began promoting the effort in the hopes that it would, he said, “bring beauty and health to our neighborhoods.”
Last year, Halkes and Lemmers distributed 1000 free sunflower seeds by bike. This certainly got me thinking about planting sunflowers on May 1. What about you, any ideas?
Unless otherwise noted, all images via Tuinenbalkon.