Guerrilla Gardening: Woman Promotes Positive Change by Planting in Potholes - Modern Farmer

Guerrilla Gardening: Woman Promotes Positive Change by Planting in Potholes

Like many others, Elaine Santore noticed the growing pothole problem that plagued her city after the harsh winter. Instead of simply complaining about the holes in the road, Santore decided to fill them in herself - with miniature gardens.

“I’m not an avid gardener – I do have a garden at home, but that’s not my sole focus – but I do like to put things in the ground. It’s spring, and I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time,” says Santore.

She did bring a friend along to ensure she wouldn’t get hit by any cars, but she has yet to have a bad experience. People see her, and some have avoided hitting the potholes even after she moves when they notice the pretty flowers. Many have watched her plant with big smiles on their faces.

“I haven’t had any bad reactions,” says Santore. “A truck driver drove by and asked what I was doing; I told him and he got all hyped up and smiley about it. My niece thinks I’m a total eccentric… but I’m the aunt, so I can be!

So far, Santore estimates she’s filled in about 10 potholes. As a result, the city has properly repaved about half of them and seems to be filling more in.

“You could go down and complain at city hall. You could call them up and complain. You could walk around with a picket and protest. There are other reasons to need to do that – much bigger issues. But something like this, this is just a simple no-harm way of getting the point across. And I think it worked because people reacted to it. I got a call this morning from the AP!” she says.

Santore isn’t the first person to look at potholes as planters. British artist and gardener Steve Wheen has been filling holes on sidewalks and streets with miniature garden scenes since 2010. UK resident Pete Dungey has been in the game about that long as well, although neither of them create pothole gardens with the intention of having the pavement fixed.

“I’m touched that people took notice of this and that I was able to draw attention to something that needs to be addressed in a kind way. Not offensive, it’s pretty, it brings a smile to people’s faces, and anybody can do it. What harm can that do?”

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