Occupy Toronto's fertile soil has given birth to a few offshoots from the whole Occupy meme. This includes Occupy Gardens, a Toronto based initiative to beautify the urban landscape based on a larger Occupy Wall Street call out.
Founded on the principles of perma-culture and food sharing and calling farming, "the ultimate direct action" against the capitalist system, Occupy Gardens formed itself into a collective back when Occupy Toronto was still at its original St. James Park encampment on King Street.
Occupy Wall Street described the phenomenon, "Guerrilla gardening is the occupation of ill-used land to support the communities and ecosystems to which that land rightfully belongs. As the Occupy movement "puts down roots" in public and private spaces across the world, guerilla gardening is essential to growing a sustainable movement free from dependence on corporate systems."
Jacob Kearey-Moreland, an Occupy Gardens organizer, explained why it is important to "occupy the food supply" because "there's about a billion people without access to proper nutritious food — hundreds of thousands in this city."
It is an example of the largess of the Occupy movement being distilled down to directly impacting local communities.
Occupy Toronto was originally rooted in a park and garden after all, at the tail of the Toronto planting season when a few rose bushes still held their flowers and Mother Nation was preparing her plants for the winter season. At the time, I remember talk of the upcoming spring with dreams of temporary autonomous gardening zones and seed bombs across downtown Toronto.
To be honest, while a few Occupy Toronto folks were really into the idea in the fall, most people were just trying to keep their home from being evicted by the police.
Blogger Mr. Brown Thumb apparently started the Twitter hashtag #Occupygardens in November 2011 as a sort of joke at first but the idea took off.
But friend Colleen Vanderlinden quickly understood why it made sense. In an article for Treehugger Magazine on November 21, 2011, "...the more I looked at it, the more it made sense. Occupy is about fighting greed, about taking control from the corporations and their government cronies and bringing it back to we the people, the 99%. What is more basic to all of our needs than food?"
Occupy Gardens – Toronto held its first big public event of the year by celebrating May Day 2012 in Toronto. Occupy Toronto members, Toronto perma-culture supporters and gardeners alike gathered at Queen's Park at 2:00 pm on May 1, 2012, to occupy a small section of the Queen's Park lawn with a little garden of resistance.
An anonymous gardener summed up their feelings, "They came flowing like water with soil and shovels in hands ungloved; they came with seeds and all they'd need to grow so that no one would go unloved!"
The little gardens continues to grow at Queen's Park, after having been blessed by local religious leaders and tended to by Occupy Gardens organizer Katie Berger and others who makes sure the plants get enough water throughout this hot, dry summer; proving a lot can grow out of a little love and guardianship.
Occupy Gardens – Toronto is planning on having an event this Saturday July 28, 2012 from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Queen's Park. The People's Peas Garden presents: SUMMER JAM! An Edible & Musical Community Potluck Picnic will include hands on workshops and gardening events, a pot luck meal, and acoustic musical entertainment throughout the day.
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