by Dylana Dillon
Photos by Dylana Dillon
The southern sun shines down casting shadowed skyscapes on the roughly terraced rooftop. Bounded by lazily painted rooftops that stretch as far as the eye can see, the winter afternoon passes us by. High above the Caballito clamor sits a tranquil crew of half a dozen creatives united by their lack of fear of getting their hands dirty. An international cadre that collectively yearns for the sweet smell of dew-stained leaves sit crossed-legged, discussing how to combat the surrounding concrete and forgotten spaces. While Buenos Aires may not be known as the greenest city around, blossoming out of this lack-thereof is a growing guerilla gardening movement. Amongst a growing number of eco-groups is Articultores, a group of artists, environmentalists and activists that aim to increase the verdancy of the city through grass roots collaborations and guerilla tactics.
Articultores functions somewhat like a fungus, in the best way possible. While their faces are inconspicuous - and their headquarters mobile - their work is ever present and plays an essential role in environmental activism here in BA. Since 2009, the group has been planning and planting away. When asked about the creation of Articultores, Judith Villamayor, the sassy coordinator with pink on bleach blond locks, responds, “I like to develop social projects, and I think it’s best to do so to promote the exchange of free knowledge, ideas, and to bring people together who want to care for and protect the environment.” Recognizing a serious need for eco intervention at the community level, this group now includes members from all walks of life. From students to grandfathers, expatriates, and the disabled, urban agriculture is the common vehicle. Their goals are ambitious, as they are currently working on a number of projects, including the design and implementation of mini mobile gardens, educational workshops, and an online magazine.
Their newest initiative, Módulo Verde Urbano, is in partnership with the Teatro San Martin. The theater, a performance and cultural center, will serve as a space for Articultores’ workshops. In the surrounding downtown neighborhood, the group plans to launch their self-designed mini planters. “The concept of free movement is something we work really hard to promote,” says long time member Micheal Kay. These little boxes will serve as portable garden beds ideal for people who live in apartments and don’t have access to outdoor space. Articultores will share the design plan, and host how-to seminars in and around the teatro starting in October.
Next up is Biotester, a national project in partnership with Centro Cultural de Espana. This glowing space in San Telmo defines cutting edge culture and alternative movements in the city, and environmentalism is no exception. Here, Articultores is pooling resources to develop and execute an educational gardening program with 50 schools in and around Capital.
And then there are the Bombas. These little balls of clay-enriched soil are stuffed with a dozen or so mixed seeds and are bursting with potential. Packing a punch, these bombs are flung throughout the city in empty lots, doleful parks, and grassy nooks. Edible and free to all, veggies are sprouting up where you’d least expect them.
I assisted in the “attack” of a raised garden bed in San Telmo, between Humberto Primo and Carlos Calvo. I met Judith Villamayor on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon and we splashed down the cobblestone streets with a backpack full of artillery. The next half hour or so was spent showering the sad little space with a blitz of seed bombs. Stopping occasionally to pick up trash or talk to inquisitive passersby, we covered this 4x4x4 triangle garden with over 40 bombas de semillas. With any luck, things have begun to sprout, so go check it out if you’re in the barrio.
When asked how the general public can get involved with the various efforts, Villamayor answers, “You just have to mobilize and do it. We really emphasize the concept of Libre, where plants, software, workshops and meetings are available and open to anyone who wants to be involved. Remember that one can change the world.”
For more information about Articultores check out their website and online magazine, and tune in to their brand new radio show airing on Radio La Boca 90.1 every Friday at 11:00am.