Radical gardening

Radical Gardening published this week


May 1st, May Day, Beltane, International Workers’ Day–the swifts arrived in the sky above our garden today. And this week my new book is published. There have already been some very nice advance reviews in the US media (see Radical Gardening/Reviews page). And in the UK there is a splurge of media interest too:

  • Monday 2 May (May Day holiday): a major article in the Independent–the Monday Essay–written by me about the book: ‘Radical plots: the politics of gardening’.
  • Wednesday 4 May: a live discussion about the book with Prof Laurie Taylor on the leading radio show for academics to talk about their work, BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed. This is my fourth appearance on the show over the years I think. From Broadcasting House, London. More information and listen again here.  Or click here for Thinking Allowed’s OU site with more links to radical gardening projects.
  • Thursday 5 May: book published!
  • Saturday 7 May: article and interview about the book in the Scotsman newspaper: ‘George McKay examines the many political dramas hosted by gardens in his latest book.’
  • May/June: interviews about the book on community radio stations such as Diversity FM (Lancaster), Future Radio (Norwich).
  • June 17, 1-hour interview with author about the book, Against the Grain politics and culture show, KPFA Radio, California.
  • June: review in the Guardian by leading environmental and campaigning journalist John Vidal.
  • June: review in Times Higher Education.
  • July: article written by me about the book for the new open access political online magazine Stir.
  • July 31: Big Issue in the North, feature ‘Can you dig it?’, about Radical Gardening and community garden projects in the north of England, by Arwa Aburawa.
Glastonbury bypass roundabout, with standing stone and oak pagan glade

From the Independent essay:

There’s a good reason why the book is published at this time. I wanted Radical Gardening published on May Day: the seasonal celebration of new growth and fertility around the rural maypole, it is the neo-pagans’ Beltane, and it is International Workers’ Day for trade unionists and industrial workers. May Day is the one day of the year when there is a coincidence of horticulture—including gardening—and radical politics, when the bucolic intermingles seasonally with the ideological. This isn’t just a historic view. On May Day 2000 (yes, the same day as the notorious ‘turfing’ of a statue of Winston Churchill with a strip of grass to temporarily give him a green punk Mohican hairdo) the lawns of Westminster Fields were taken over and planted with vegetables and cannabis seedlings by activists. London autonomists Reclaim The Streets explained the May Day 2000 political instant garden: ‘Under the shadow of an irrelevant parliament we were planting the seeds of a society where ordinary people are in control of their land, their resources, their food and their decision making. The garden … celebrated the possibility of a world that encourages cooperation and sharing rather than one which rewards greed, individualism and competition’.

By the way here is a great image I came across a couple of weeks ago while looking around the recommended People’s Story Museum in Edinburgh:

8 replies on “Radical Gardening published this week”

Thanks Michael. Do you need ‘acres of land’, really? Time probably–and, as the book argues (following Chris Carlsson’s Nowtopia), the slowness of production is a political gardener’s rejection of the media-saturated spectacle… G

“To me a “real” garden just isn’t possible in suburbia. You need acres of land and plenty of time to tend your garden to do it right.”

Not true, ever heard of urban garden and vertical garden? Those two does not need acres of land to grow plants.

Do most people really think of gardening as some kind of suburban pastime? I guess I’m lucky my dad was an avid gardener. To me a “real” garden just isn’t possible in suburbia. You need acres of land and plenty of time to tend your garden to do it right.

Your site is full of images that makes it more interesting. My favorite image is the last one where the lady is somewhat playing golf. I would love to have a copy of this book.

This is a great post. I have a friend who manages an acre garden, and fully sustains herself and her family from it. Every week she has friends over and we feast, bring our garbage and compost it, and enjoy the rich flavors of the organic food.

I agree with George. People need to be less self reliant on big corporations. I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Estonia about 6 weeks back now with a friend. Their family grows all their own vegetables and fruit and oh my!

The fruit and vegetables were to die for. I tasted everything and it was all organic. I come home and it all taste bland, like nothing at all. We need a big change in the world and soon.


I’m looking forward to reading this book. In a time when people are forgetting how to be self sustaining and relying on giant corporations for their genetically modified food, I would like to hear of people who are doing something different. Do you think more people are becoming aware of the dangers of gmo’s?

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