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'Guerrilla gardeners' use tools in disguise to beautify cities

By staff
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Covert gardeners aim for greener cities
  • Covert gardeners aim to make cities greener using disguised tools
  • Tool designer Vanessa Harden modified cameras, handbags to carry out planting
  • meets Vanessa, learns more about the guerrilla gardening community

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Brooklyn, New York (VBS.TV) -- Vanessa Harden is like the "Q" of the gardening world. Since most cities don't look kindly on those seeking to alter the cityscape without permission, Vanessa has integrated a gardening kit into the everyday objects of the urban professional to disguise clandestine gardening activities. Inspired by her Cold War and James Bond obsession, her designs range from modified cameras that plant seeds to flower pot-dropping handbags. These objects give the guerrilla gardener a means to implement their attacks into their everyday routine.

After graduating from Ontario College of Art in Toronto with a degree in jewelry and metalsmithing, Vanessa moved to the United Kingdom to pursue a master's degree in design interactions from the Royal College Collect of Art in London. Here she became interested in "the application of mainstream design processes to niche groups" and her guerrilla gardening project is the perfect example.

See the rest of Guerrilla Gardening at VBS.TV

Motherboard meets Vanessa in her South London studio to find out how she got involved in this "guerrilla" scene, and why she feels her own unique brand of eco-technology may help make the metropolises of the world greener and more beautiful. Furthermore, she emphasizes that this type of design and technique keeps this subject fun and playful because "the last thing people want is to be preached at." She shows us firsthand the different techniques and technologies she employs in her designs and explains why the game "Mousetrap" has been a central inspiration.

Then we head out into the city to meet guerrilla gardener guru Richard Reynolds and discover the fruits of his labor blossoming in grass verges and central conservations throughout London. The two put Vanessa's designs to use, and discuss how they have been received in the guerrilla gardening community.