I Illegally Plant Food Throughout my City

The terrible crime of saving fauna and the urban environment.

I scatter edible plants everywhere in my city. I plant them in playgrounds, drive-through planters, littered along highways or hidden in little corners of the urban landscape. Is a deer going to eat an apple, carry the seed and spread a new tree somewhere nearby? I hope so.

eaving some red borecole dotted around feeds rabbits. Hiding mulberries out of sight will feed birds, and if you manage to establish a hazelnut bush in a park you’ll feed the squirrels; food everywhere.

Edges of the urban landscape can provide an abundance of food for little critters without causing inconvenience to anyone, and with only a little more effort you could turn a fallen tree into food for deer with some certain types of mushrooms or just some clover.

Feed bigger and smaller animals at the same time with just a couple of cranberry seeds (image)

Many plants are considered invasive despite helping the environment, and yet planting anything invasive or not on property you do not own is illegal.

Wonder plants like Sea Buckthorn are classified as invasive in most places, though this plant grows on and rebuilds dead soil, while providing food for animals and bees. It creates oxygen and pulls nitrogen out of the air to enrich the ground around it. No matter its qualities however, this species is labelled extremely invasive almost everywhere you go which is incredibly unfortunate. You can basically set it going it in a place that’s separated like a roadside, and it will quietly keep animals from going further, repairing the planet for free.

Not doing, is doing damage.

“We don’t have to ask politicians and property developers to sort it all out for us. There are some things in our society that we can just get on and do”

- Renowned advocate for an illegal gardening initiative Richard Reynolds.

While law enforcement may confront you and threaten arrest, serious consequences are rare (image)

Unfortunately you shouldn’t just start throwing seeds everywhere, you have to start with your plants on your own land. If you start by carefully studying your own little ecosystem, you won’t accidentally make things worse for your local environment, or run into so many pitfalls when trying to make a difference. Something like grapes might seem like a fantastic idea because they are produce, and they don’t seem complicated to sow. However, if you take the time to see the way grapes actually grow, you’ll find they often grow into large fruitless vines with a couple of ugly morsels at the top. While this isn’t the worst thing you could do at no cost, you could easily accomplish much more. Always learn your seed, and look up the invasive species list for your local area on your local government’s website.

The forest floors used to be covered in protein

Hundreds of years ago, the planet’s natural environments provided far greater nutrients for its inhabitants; both human and fauna alike. Things like introducing chestnut blight and large-scale deforestation are some obvious culprits for what these places have become, but the level of damage done can be at least lightly alleviated with a little care and active urban gardening.

Planting cedar is the popular practice for replacing logged forests, because its rot resistant and great for construction. We’ve turned lush and fruitful landscapes into industrial woodlots to mask the ‘disappearing trees’ so the issue is masked. When you replace parts of a habitat with rows of cedar, deer are forced to look further for food, often by the cities and roadways where they’re in danger. To keep these creatures safe, we should transition the places around us back into food-based ecosystems.

Plants for a Future is a good resource for learning more about the types of plants to cultivate (image)

Should you or I feel bad for committing the hideous crime of planting a couple fruit trees at the edge of a barren cedar woodlot? I’m going to use rational thought against the law here and tell you the answer it no. If anyone manages to plant berries along a roadside to feed small animals and fence-out nearby deer with thorns, it needs to be considered a service to the planet.

I will continue to spread “invasive species” because it’s necessary to build and preserve natural environments. I’m very careful and so should you be, if you’re just starting out, but we're so afraid of planting things to avoid run-ins with the law or making a big-enough difference that we become paralysed and do nothing. We don’t need more tidy plain grass lawns, so try do what you can because your environment and your planet needs you.

It might not be lawful but it’s the right thing to do.

Full-time designer and consultant, rest-of-the-time writer aiming to teach from experience. Get in touch: davonmassi@gmail.com

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