Between Guerilla Gardeners: Maia Bromley-Dulfano interviews Vanessa Harden

What does guerrilla gardening mean to you?

Guerrilla gardening is the act of transforming a neglected or underused space into something beautiful. This can be a crack in a sidewalk, an empty tree pit by your bus stop or an empty lot. It is kind of like a secret between yourself and your environment. When your seeds finally bloom, you feel a sense of pride. You really made a difference in your space.

How has it impacted your life?

Living in New York City, where pretty much every space is being developed, this practice is necessary if you want to take part in shaping and beautifying the world around you. For me, that means adding literal life to the neglected places in my neighbourhood.

Why did you join the guerrilla gardening movement? Any words of advice for others who may want to join?

Guerrilla gardening seemed to be a logical and realistic step towards making my community a better, cleaner, and healthier space. Taking responsibility for spaces that are under-utilized, and yet often public, just seemed like the right way to go. From there, I found that lots of people use this movement as a means to combat food instability and the destruction of our natural habitat. It is a way to foster stewardship and empathy for the land we live on. My advice is to just join the movement. Love the land you live on, and treat it with the same care and ethics as you expect back from it.


Vanessa Harden is an award-winning designer focused on creating thought-provoking experiences and installations. Her passion lies in connecting with people across cultures via unconventional but universally relevant vehicles. She is the founder of Wild Flag Studios, an interactive branded experience and art installation collective, as well as The Subversive Gardener, a non-profit organization that is a platform for environmental education, design exploration and public intervention connected to the guerrilla gardening subculture. Vanessa is also a professor at NYU where she teaches design in both the TISCH art department and TANDON engineering department.