Seed Bombin': Guerilla gardeners launch urban renewal effort

A seed ball vending machine from Green Aid | Image via

Across the country, people are bombing urban vacant lots. Well, seed bombing that is—throwing balls made from clay, compost and seeds onto abandoned areas in hopes of restoring some vegetative beauty. These actions are a throwback to the first guerilla gardeners of the 1970s, whose “seed grenades” were launched into empty New York City lots to help improve the neighborhood. Originally made from old Christmas tree ornaments and water balloons, these “grenades” were filled with time-release fertilizer and wildflower seeds.

Today’s seed grenades, commonly known as seed bombs or seed balls, are typically self-contained and ideally, full of native plants. In Memphis, the community art group Bomb the Blight has organized “bombings” where they use an air cannon to send seed balls onto blighted areas. And the California-based organization Green Aid has refitted quarter-operated candy machines to dispense seeds balls. The machines can be found in cities all over the U.S. and even abroad in Austria and Italy. 

Despite the growing urban gardening movement in Philadelphia, there is little formal seed bombing action happening in the city. Green Aid doesn’t even have a seed ball machine in the state. But don’t let that deter you from taking any guerrilla gardening action. Apply to Green Aid for a vending machine for your community or business. They’ll even develop a seed mix that’s best for your area. You can also buy packs of seed balls on Green Aid’s website ($3.99-$11.99) and from Anthropolgie ($6). Don’t want to pay up? Make your own seeds balls with these directions from Urban Habitat Chicago. Bombs away! -Liz Pacheco