Guerilla Gardening: Operation Grand Tomato

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I return to the Grand Street Guerrilla Garden on Friday, a garden we have dubbed Operation Grand Tomato, to water and check how the plants are establishing themselves. I am immediately thrown into a downward spiral of anger.

The Guerilla Gardener’s Operation Grand Tomato has a few challengers.Photo By Martin LaBar/Courtesy Flickr.


The prime numbers have been torn and violated. Someone has absconded a handful of marigolds and a tomato plant. Growling and cursing, I hate it when I lose control over my emotions.

My frustration pours out of me like the water from the cisterns in my hands, beyond my control. My anger flows and pools around my feet until I am stuck in dark, muddled goo. I continue to spin my wheels and sink deeper and deeper until something happens. I stop and realize the comedy of all my frustration. After all, the guerilla garden operation itself was an act of defiance; perhaps those who took the few flowers were in need of them. I take a deep breath and begin to tidy up the planters, finding a marigold that had been uprooted, but not taken. It was still alive and only needed fresh ground. I could take a lesson from this little flower.

Something my parents taught me as a child is that anything worth a damn in life is not easily won, but is worth all the effort invested in it. Another deep breath. For a moment I play with the idea of erecting a fence of salvaged wood, chicken wire and three strings of barbed wire at the top around the planters. This is the Midwest after all…but I decide against it as it would inevitably encourage people to climb it rather than deter them. Part of me wants that barbed wire there to lash out at those who would attempt to destroy the guerilla gardens. This is a cycle of violence we all must remain vigilant over and control. There will always be those who attempt to poison us with their own unhappiness, and we must not surrender to them.

“Have patience, Jesus,” I tell myself. “Saving the world is a long road. They may tear down the garden, but I will keep planting.”

This resilience would be necessary concerning another guerilla garden I have yet to tell you about.  But that is for another time…

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