Sep 23, 2011

The Garden Blogger Fight to Save a Teacher's Garden

A week ago today a friend on Twitter tipped me off to the story of Adam Guerrero, a Memphis math teacher, and his garden that had been deemed a nuisance by a local judge after a neighbor had complained. That weekend it seemed like Adam was on the verge of dismantling his garden that is used to teach high school kids how to grow their own food, make biodiesel, soap, beekeeping and vermicomposting.

Today Adam appeared before the judge again and while it wasn’t a total victory it can in no way be described as a total loss, either. There are some fixes that need to be done and some concessions that have to be made. But one thing is for certain, after the outpouring of support I’m sure Adam is not thinking of dismantling the garden and the garden is saved and will possibly expand in a larger location to allow Adam to continue doing what he’s doing. 

How did we get to this point? 

After blogging about it and creating the hashtag #WarOngardens on Twitter I didn't think I could get the story to go very far. Then Colleen wrote about it at TreeHugger and the story and the hashtag took off and a handful of us garden bloggers made a fuss about the story on Twitter. Gina, a native of the area even join in blogging about it and shared her perspective of growing up in the area. Soon we were joined by countless others on Twitter & Facebook in making a fuss. The story got so big that Grist, Eatocracy, Kitchen Gardeners International, BoingBoing and even the Washington Post got in on the action. Roseanne Barr retweeted pleas for help from Gina, and even Alicia Silverstone blogged about it. Below a selection of tweets by garden bloggers, social media friends and allies that participated. 

One noteworthy aspect of the story that I’m still trying to wrap my head around; I posted the link to the story on a few message boards I participate in. The outrage from gardeners and bleeding heart liberals was something I expected-even counted on-to help push the story. What I didn’t foresee was that the handful of garden bloggers who were beating this drum would be joined by Anarchists, Tea Partyers and Libertarians. The story of Adam Guerrero’s garden transcended racial and political lines and even got support from people outside the U.S.  

I’m always proud to be a garden blogger, but especially on days when we prove that just a handful of voices who aren't even celebrities in the garden world can make a difference. Previous examples? The social media backlash against The Dervaes Institute after they trademarked the term homesteads. When Colleen made the story of Julie Bass and her vegetable garden famous. And recently when we launched the social media campaign to save the Landreth Seed Company.

EDIT: @School Gardening brings up a great point. If you can send the judge an Email and say thanks for being so open to finding a solution to the complaints about the garden from the neighbor.


  1. I feel better after reading this :-) You're right. It wasn't a loss. It's progress of a sort. We have a judge who at least respected what this gardener was doing, and is (as far as we can tell this early in the game) trying to work with him.

    Thanks for telling me about the story, and for being so instrumental in getting everything out there. It was great seeing everyone pull together like this.

  2. Colleen, You should feel really good about this story. The garden will continue and it looks like it will be even bigger.

    I've always thought that my comrades in gardening were garden communicators and this story has taught me that I was wrong. There's a whole other world of people who picked up the slack while people who write/blog/photograph gardening sat on their hands. All of the chats with political people (of all stripes) that centered on gardening have been enlightening.

    Thanks for doing what you do at TreeHugger. I'm glad they chose you over all the garden writers they could have chosen for the job because we would not have your activist spirit at TreeHugger.

  3. Great job walking shoulder to shoulder always makes a point stronger <|;-) Annie




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