When I moved to New York City in the late eighties, there would be fading purple footprints of Adam Purple to follow, he who would paint his feet and walk.  It’s over half my life later and I’ve learned more about his life and work through videos as this one.  I’m inspired today by the Garden of Eden concept, hard-working utopians in urban areas imagining and creating a world of lushness and freedom and innocence and beauty and community.

Since encountering the idea of Food as a Commons, I’ve been determined to figure out how to communicate why this feels important, and how to bring it into more shared awareness, and consciousness.

There’s lots of ways the Guerrilla Gardening movement, and lots of the very imaginative and energetic urban regenerative gardening, speak to the Garden of Eden.  Watch these people in San Francisco show you to graft fruiting branches onto existing city trees

There’s gardening at bus stops , there’s creating “Edible” communities and towns, along the lines of Incredible Edible Todmorden; there is so much happening in so many places, all constituting a movement and a vision.  (Please if there’s anything you wish to share, include links in the comments!)

Sometimes I’ve wonder about a horrific, apocalyptic future of scarcity and violence (hypothetically– it doesn’t have to be like this!).  I contemplate whether apple trees planted on a Nottingham housing estate, for example, would become a focus of battle, of contention, of a resource so precious it would need to be claimed and owned.  There’s a science fiction novel waiting to be written…

Of course I also wonder whether the beautiful worlds of edible life that are being created and tended by Guerilla-gardeners extraordinaire all over our cities and towns; do they depend on on-going committment of very devoted, energetic and active individuals, if it’s not to be totally state sanctioned and financially supported, in which case they become something quite different?

But I’ve just realised these niggling questions are not important at all.  What matters about the all the work people are doing in cities to create free food through gardened spaces, verges, sidewalks, pavements, bus stops, church yards, all of it: a vision of free food.  It’s a vision in which we imagine ourselves, poor or rich, child, adult, free to graze, to pick this apple or nibble that salad leaf, admire this sunflower, take home that cucumber– food without ownership, food that is accessible based on need, on desire, on willingness to eat it, to partake of the material and social vision alike. This food that grows freely– it is not a commodity, or to be commodified. These kinds of urban gardeners are working to reframe the way we see food– they are placing food, fresh and alive, back into the idea of the Commons.

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