High School

Rooting for Espionage: gardeners as secret agents (or vice versa)

Vanessa Harden doesn’t know it, but she is a poster child for cross-curricular integration. Her feature video, Hi-Tech Guerilla Gardening, and this accompanying intro on her website, The Subversive Gardener explain why:

This project looks at the guerrilla gardening subculture – a group of individuals who spy screenshot-www flickr com 2015-11-01 10-28-42secretly meet at night to illegally plant flowers, shrubs and vegetables in neglected urban spaces.
The Subversive Gardener explores the existing instruments involved in this practice. How can they be modified, camouflaged or completely redesigned? From digging to planting, this idea approaches design in a modular fashion. These new objects function as components that combine to facilitate the individual processes in gardening. The pieces also take inspiration from nature by featuring mechanisms that reference existing natural occurrences such as seed dispersal. In addition to bio-mimicry, this idea looks at various methods of disguising gardening paraphernalia in everyday attire and accessories, drawing on influences from militaria and spy gadgetry.

Here are some ideas to bring this energy, creativity, and subversive fun to your students.
NOTE: Do your research! Promote ONLY the options that will be acceptable in your community. Yes, prime your students for gadget-filled, garden-boosting fun…just make sure they know the limits and don’t dig themselves into deep trouble.

  • Conduct a ‘literature/media’ review by making an inventory and/or catalog (paper or Googlesheet) of the gadgets in James Bond movies, Inspector Gadget (all versions), Fineas & Ferb, and the like. Select top contenders that could be adapted for gardening or farming.
  • Create a Greening Gadgetry Contest (per the above inventory). Set the format & rules (e.g. include a note of which classic inspired this variation; 3-D models and/or scale drawings that are original art only). Invite community experts, other classes, or gardeners to vote for the winner(s).
  • Scan the news and/or interview local scientists or master gardeners for a local area that suffers from a significant lack of plant life. Determine which (native) plants and landscaping options should be prioritized to revitalize this area.
  • Distill the outcome of the idea above into an engaging ~5 minute presentation (PPT okay). Include a budget overview & justification. Pose the project to potential backers (the PTA, local garden club, garden retailers, local government). Got money? Got permission? Go for it!
  • Use the overview from Guerrilla Gardening to conduct a risk analysis (paper chart or software generated graphs) for:
    • creating various types of  ‘seed bombs’
    • ‘deploying’ seed bombs some where in your community
    • IF the benefits clearly outweigh the risks, then ‘bombs away….’
  • Write & illustrate (or stage/film) a new episode or series entry for the series listed above. The new story must feature subversive gardening. Bonus points for setting it in your community and solving an actual community need.
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