Artist group invades neighborhoods with plant seeds - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Artist group invades neighborhoods with plant seeds

Seed "bombs" consist of dried dirt and vegetable seeds. (Source: CBS) Seed "bombs" consist of dried dirt and vegetable seeds. (Source: CBS)
Buenos Aires, Argentina -

BUENOS AIRES, AREGENTINA (CBS) - A group of young artists, armed with vegetable seeds, spades and homemade "bombs" are attacking Buenos Aires' unused land with little round dirt balls filled with vegetable seeds in what they call a "guerrilla gardening" operation.

The seed balls are designed prevent pigeons and other animals from eating them until the seeds can germinate and sprout into wild vegetable gardens in city parks, plazas, planters and otherwise neglected urban spaces.

The group, called Articultores, which in English means artsy farmers or artistic cultivators, hopes to one day have wild vegetables growing throughout the city, with residents watering and caring for the plants.

The group's coordinator, Judith Villamayor, said Articultore members are primarily artists.

"Fighting hunger is too big. This is an artist movement and what we do and what makes us really happy is constructing the debate around these issues, not combating them directly. But yes, opening the debate. To debate food security and to make people rethink the concept of beauty," explained Villamayor.

The group of 20 or so artists, who mostly come and go, meet at their base near downtown Buenos Aires during the week to make the "bombs" which they typically disperse in small groups on Saturdays.

The bombs are made of various seeds rolled in dirt and dried until hardened. The group uses up to as many as 40 varieties throughout the year that would otherwise be in season and native to the area.

They did not invent the design of the seed bombs, but borrowed it from a Japanese tradition. The hardened soil protects the seeds from scavenging animals and birds until it is softened under the first rain and the seeds are able to mature and sprout into plants.

In addition to dispersing native seeds, the group also plants squash, beans, corn, quinoa and other seedlings in opportune places they hope will grow to yield fruit; all part of their guerrilla gardening campaign.

They go into small neighborhoods, only a few people at a time so residents aren't intimidated, and spread seeds and plant saplings. They also try to start a dialogue with the residents of the neighborhoods where the seeds are planted because they will be the people ultimately taking care of the wild gardens.

New York native Michael Kay lives in Buenos Aires and joined the group soon after it formed just more than a year ago.

"I maintained one small space near where I lived where I did see a change, but unfortunately it didn't last," Kay said.  "As much as we try, things happen and somebody dumped a whole pile of garbage that demolished it."

"But on the other hand, there was a site that we all worked on in the same neighborhood, where there was great success. We saw plants of squash that were growing freely and people in the neighborhood and streets were actually taking them and using them to cook with."

Some of last year's plants can still be seen thriving in the city, growing through the cracks and under overpasses.

The term "guerrilla gardening" arose in New York City in the 1970s when a group called Green Guerrillas set about to garden in neglected areas.

Similar movements have also been seen in London dating back to the 17th century when English political activist Gerrard Winstanley planted crops in public spaces.

Villamayor hopes that one day cities across the globe will be filled with wild vegetables.

"To go down the street and for it to be just as natural to see a squash growing as a rose. This would be wonderful," she said. "That every park, in addition to being beautiful and used as a place to read, it would be good if it included a wild garden that grandparents could maintain and kids could go and see how trees grow."

Copyright CBS 2011. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly