Learn how seed bombs and guerrilla gardening can help improve both our cities and our health

By Alma Fabiani

Published Jul 14, 2021 at 09:36 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic taught me, as well as the rest of people who live in urban areas like London, it’s how we have strongly underestimated the importance of having enough of both green spaces and greenery around us. When coronavirus hit, it hurled social and environmental injustices to the front of our collective consciousness. And during that time, even the smallest acts of what is known as ‘guerrilla gardening’ helped us breathe and feel less trapped in a concrete jungle.

Chances are, you’ve now woken up to a problem that never seemed to bother you before: nature deprivation. But being aware of an issue is only half the battle—it’s time for you to take action and do something about it. That’s where the upcoming event Planting the Future comes in, to show you the way forward and inspire you to transform cities from grey to green.

Taking place on Wednesday 28 July from 6 p.m. at Selina’s new location in Camden, London, Planting the Future will consist of a seed bomb workshop, an eco-poetry reading, and an environmental art exhibition. Put in place by Emma Latham Phillips, a freelance writer with a focus on the environment and agroecology, and Ellen Miles, an activist working at the intersection of climate and social justice who’s behind innovative projects such as Dream Green and Nature is a Human Right, this event is the first winner of The Special Event Call Out.

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In partnership with Selina, we asked London’s thriving creative scene to submit their most inspiring event ideas and promised to take care of all the rest in return, from production to promotion. And you truly delivered! Ahead of the Planting the Future event, we sat down with Miles and Latham Phillips to encourage you to join us on 28 July and give you the opportunity to learn more about the many benefits of guerrilla gardening.

What is guerrilla gardening?

The term is pretty self-explanatory, it is the act of transforming “neglected, lifeless patches of your neighbourhood into vibrant patches of plant life, with or without permission,” Miles told me. After a few months of campaigning to make access to green space a right for all through Nature is a Human Right, Miles wanted a more immediate and tangible solution. “One within my own power,” she added.

Learn how seed bombs and guerrilla gardening can help improve both our cities and our health

Why now? When coronavirus hit, “for the privileged, with many-roomed houses, gardens to nourish, and parks to escape to, the ‘stay at home’ imperative was bearable. But for those trapped high up in a balcony-less tower block with no nearby parks, not only was lockdown a ‘living hell’ (as one single mother described it), their greyer, more polluted surroundings put their lives at risk—manifesting as lethal comorbidities,” she explained.

“2.7 million people in the UK don’t have any ‘green space’ within accessible walking distance, and one in eight don’t have a garden. For the communities sitting at the intersection of this bleak Venn diagram (disproportionately low-income households and people of colour), the consequences are life-threatening. Studies have found that mental illnesses are 40 per cent more prevalent, life expectancy two years shorter, and violent crime 50 per cent higher in grey urban areas compared to greener environments,” Miles further explained.

Galvanised by all this, the activist discovered guerrilla gardening and started posting videos of her doing it throughout London on TikTok. Soon enough, she accumulated millions of views as well as a palpably-energised following. “I realised that there was a huge, latent army of guerrilla gardeners out there—a social movement ready to spring to action, if only they were given the right support… So I founded Dream Green, the social enterprise that educates and equips people to become guerrilla gardeners.”

For Planting the Future, Miles has joined forces with Latham Phillips to bring you an evening celebrating nature in the city. Their eco evening extravaganza is split into three parts—a workshop, a three-course meal, and a nature-inspired art exhibition and open mic poetry session.

First, you’ll be invited to join a workshop where you will learn how to make the essential tool in the guerrilla gardeners’ arsenal: seed bombs. These tiny, potential-packed balls of wildflower seeds let you ‘throw and grow’—just leave them on soil, and Mother Nature will take care of the rest! Soon you’ll be leaving bright patches of biodiversity in your wake.

Then, join Miles and Latham Phillips for a three-course meal, courtesy of Selina. A drink is included within the price of a ticket, and the set menu is vegan with a sustainable twist—fancy! The evening will finish with an open mic eco-poetry session (don’t be shy!) and the chance to view the artwork of regular collaborators of the duo inspired by the urban wilds.

Why should you go?

“We mainly want people to have fun! Hopefully they’ll learn something new about how to make their streets greener, and get inspired along the way. Our audience cares about people, plants and the planet. Guerrilla gardening and creative eco-action involve, and are good for, all three,” Miles shared.

Not sure how best to celebrate the UK opening back up? Can’t choose between dinner, art exhibitions and live entertainment? Planting the Future has got you covered! The dinner event will bring you all three. “If you’re looking to make the world a better place in a way that’s not only simple, but fun, come along to our workshop, and learn how to make your local streets better for birds, bees and communities. You’ll get to take home a pouch of your own DIY seed bombs as well as knowledge to last a lifetime,” Miles added.

Convinced? Join Dream Green and Nature is a Human Right on 28 July at Selina’s new Camden venue! Click on this link to purchase tickets—workshop: £16.50 and three-course dinner: £42.50. See you there!

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