Guerrilla Gardening: Over and Out

Seed Bombs at Whole Foods! Photo by Jimmy Chertkow

Proof that all counter-cultural movements eventually get subsumed into the mainstream: a Whole Foods seed bomb display sent to me by Root Simple tipster James Chertkow, who pointed out the anthropomorphized orange with a Mohawk. Maybe it’s time to retire the whole guerrilla gardening/punk rock thing and just, well, plant some flowers and not make a big deal out of it.

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  1. I’m officially depressed. Not only is this a blatant money grab but it also goes to show just how effin lazy would be “revolutionaries” can be. So hardcore!

  2. I’m surprised (or not surprised?) to see these seed bombs show up here. But since I know the folks that make these particular seed bombs personally, I just wanted to put a word in. 🙂 The local L.A. Whole Foods purchase the seed bombs from Commonstudio, a very tiny down to earth studio just in Culver City run by two very sweet friends of mine. Yes, it is a business, but they do want to bring about social/environmental change with their designs (and a lot of hard work)! I guess it can’t be helped that by showing up at whole foods they seem ‘mainstream’, but they do substantially more work with local schools, small businesses, fests and organizations. I still try to stop by now and then to help them with packing, shipping and other things. You can see their site here: Their seedbombs actually got popular through a school project they proposed, where they re-purposed old vending machines that were handed down to them.

  3. Wow! I remember seeing a post on Apartment Therapy last year about how you could spend $8 to buy a little pre-packaged bag of pre-made seed bombs. Ick.

  4. What? And not let someone make a buck off of someone else’s idea?

    How very un-American of you.

    Speaking of un-American, I’d be interested to know in just what province of China those were made…..

  5. No now is the time to be true to your values and ride out the fad. It’s true that all counter culture movements get absorbed into mainstream culture but mainstream culture has an extremely short attention span. I’ve seen this happen with a lot of movements I’ve been involved with but a movement can only die if the people at its core lose heart.

  6. The seed bomb…lol.. well at least it’s a good intention and growing something ;o) Looks like someone may have taken that note of your book to heart. I “dig” the orange dude too…

  7. mjlai: I’m glad they’re doing other things for the community aside from these. Hopefully they’ll accomplish what they set out to do and improve L.A.

  8. Seed bombs are 100% better than Yacht Rock of yesterday.LOL Remember, if it an opportunity to make money, someone will come up with a way to part us from our cash. My questions is do you throw the package and all into the ground, out the car window, or is this just a new way package seeds that ultimately will be placed separately in the garden?

    Growing your own food is a lasting tool. Seed Bombs will be gone. That is a really dumb orange. Why the Mohawk, I wonder?

  9. I subscribed to your newsletter, but all I get are empty blocks with a little red X in a box in the upper left of the big empty boxes. What am I doing wrong. There are no directions or anything else that gives me some kind of clue as to how else to view the newsletter. I’m frustrated! Can you help me? I’m sure it is something simple, but I’m computer-challenged. Thanks! Robin, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

  10. I’ve been doing this for years and didn’t even know it had a name!

    Now I find out I’ve missed out on yet another trend that now Whole Foods will make 10 jillion dollars off of!

  11. I wonder if maybe it’s not an orange but a dredging with a mohawk? The little sprout arms & legs made me think so, and actually, that explains the mohawk too.

  12. I must be the only person who did not understand what a seed bomb was. It looked like a little bag of seeds to me! Luckily, had illustrated instructions.

    Now, I have a question–can you make these now for use next spring? Or, should the bomb be used immediately?

  13. I’ve been seeing seed bombs all over the place, made by different companies. I’m wondering if the seeds in these various bombs are always appropriate for the area in which they are sold. The great thing about making your own is being able to customize what’s inside.

    @Parsimony: The bombs should be deployed around about when you’d sow the seed ordinarily–and that depends on the seed and your climate. Here in LA our wildflowers and weeds sprout right after the winter rains start, so we toss seeds out in the late autumn. That’s really the only time to do it here.

    @Robin: We don’t have a newsletter. Do you mean you’re trying to subscribe to get our posts via email?

  14. @ Parsimony again: Just wanted to add that some people are probably going to say that you can toss the bombs any time, that they clay will protect the seeds ’til they’re ready to sprout. And that’s true to some extent, though again, type of seeds and type of climate is going to rule the issue. I figure that if one is going to take the trouble to make them or buy them, then they should be deployed with care.

  15. I do not mean to offend, but I do not understand how you can be offended by the ‘commercialization’ of seed bombs. Have you not advocated for and given instructions in the use of such yourselves on this blog? I hate to be crass, but is it possible that this blog is just as much a commercial project as something on the shelf in whole foods? I cannot see the (qualitative) difference between those two projects and if they are fundamentally similar, what makes you feel justified in criticizing people who are trying to feed themselves by changing the world other than your conviction in your own righteousness. Again, these questions may seem loaded or aggressive, but I have recently begun working in the nonprofit industry trying to serve people living in a true food desert, and the difficulty I have separating my desire to make a difference and my need to make a living is eating at me. I respect you enough to believe that you must yourselves feel torn by and have insight into this dilemma. I think this issue is truly important and almost never discussed- truly the inability of progressives to create living wage jobs for the people who do the work to promote their causes is what has broken the backbone of our hope. If the solution that would allow me to make a difference as significant as yours is to work on strengthening my belief in the righteousness of my cause and my work, that is feedback that I would greatly appreciate.

  16. Hey PA,
    Historically it was the liberals who created the middle class in this country until the jobs issue was co-opted by the right at the same time as the civil rights movement- when a lot of democrats became republicans out of fear/racism/white flight.(think Reagan’s reign here in California after Watts) Since then, the left has indeed been in some confusion over issues that were, at one time, at the liberal heart. So I think we do fear co-option because so many liberal values were co-opted by the right. When we see seed bombs for sale at whole foods we may not think that a small business is making good. We may just see Whole foods selling for a profit what could be free to all.

  17. So you’re upset because it’s no longer ‘cool’ to seed bomb? The second it seems ‘mainstream’ you can’t be caught doing it anymore? Which means that you never really believed in what you were doing, you were just trying to be ‘counter culture’


    If you really believed in what you were doing you’d be happy that the ‘counter culture’ that you espouse had effected change on society as a whole. Isn’t that what you pretend to want?

    The people that make these seed bombs may make a profit from their production, which means its not done with a purely altruistic motive, but who cares. At least they don’t have a holier-than-thou attitude.

  18. OK everyone, thanks for your comments. This is a primo example of bad, lazy blogging. What I should have done was write a long thoughtful post about some of the issues I have with comodification and guerrilla gardening. Instead I took a cheap shot which always gets me in trouble. Stay tuned for a longer, more thoughtful post on these subjects.

  19. I haven’t seen that at our local WF yet. Maybe it doesn’t reflect guerilla gardening so much, as people’s desire to reduce the work of growing food as much as possible – so you just throw a ball of mud instead of starting each seed individually.


  20. Jeesh. Wow a lot of negative comments! That’s totally cool. Let’s me know that all types are reading Root Simple.
    I have the opinion that once WF gets hold of an idea it changes. WF marketing seems to give items either a cool “let’s to that” persona or a “I’d never do that b/c WF says it’s cool” attitude.
    Personally I think that a lot of people (in my area at least) that shop at WF are rather well to do, and may not even know the need of a seed bomb, have their heads stuck in the sand, or just typically pass these things and never think twice. I know some of these people personally. They haven’t a clue at times. Really. Just being in WF is a great marketing tool if it reaches these people. But not for the product. For the community that needs those seed bomb thrown!
    Awareness Anyone!

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