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The Art of High Tech Guerrilla Gardening

Wanna garden, James Bond style? Me too.

A few years ago, the fence surrounding the outdoor train station closest to my Chicago apartment was crawling with beautiful purple, blue, orange and gold flowers. Someone had thrown seeds next to the tracks, and they flourished that summer, making my stop easily the most beautiful in the city. Throwing seeds like this, or planting anywhere you’re not supposed to, is actually an illegal practice, and why this kind of unauthorized planting it is called “guerrilla gardening.”

Cities actually take rogue gardening issues seriously, which explains why the plants by my train station were uprooted after a few months. Last year in a Chicago suburb known as Warrenville, Shawna Colorado’s garden outstretched the confines of her property and for that, the city tried charging her $75 a day.

UK residents Richard Reynolds and designer Vanessa Harden fall into this “guerilla gardening as protest art” category, and with Harden’s James Bond-like urban gardening tools they’ve taken covert gardening to a whole new level. Harden’s high tech designs include a shoe that plants seeds as you walk, and a large red bag that conceals a drill and a flower pot. Their land of choice is one technically owned by London's Transport Authority, which apparently does a terrible job of maintaining its grounds—or is happy to field some extracurricular gardening—as they have yet to question the rogue plants that have been living on their property for more than three years. Or maybe they just don't care.

In the above interview with Motherboard, Reynolds implies that he gardens illegally to prove that we are not as policed or controlled as a society as we are led to believe. Maybe that's the case in the UK, but I beg to differ, given my experiences in Chicago. But that's exactly why I wish Harden's designs were available for mass production—we need all the help we can get.