This is Todd Bieber. You may remember him as the man who traveled to Europe to reunite blizzard photos with their rightful owner earlier this year. The Brooklyn-based filmmaker's latest project is a little bit closer to home, though—calling himself the "Vigilante Gardener," Bieber has spent the past six months planting vegetables in abandoned lot a block from his house. It's urban agriculture in a whole new, not-quite-legal way.
Here's Bieber explaining his undertaking when the idea first hit him:
And here he is today, at the end of the season, reflecting upon his time as a garden guardian angel:
We got in touch with Bieber after seeing the videos to find out a little more about the project.
Did you have any gardening experience before this? I grew up on a six generation family farm in Pennsylvania. It wasn't a working farm by the time I was born. So I didn't milk cows or grow shit. I was just surrounded by fields and gardens and farmers. I've had a few gardens but I'm by no means an expert or even an intermediate. This is probably the most success that I've had with a garden
About how many hours per week did you spend working on the garden? I probably spent a total of 3 hours a week watering, weeding, and cleaning up the trash. It's not a huge space so in 15 minutes I could really clean up the space each day.
What was the best thing you cooked/ ate out of your garden? That salsa my girlfriend made was some of the best salsa ever. That's a fact not an opinion. If you cook a half-decent tasting meal from scratch it tastes ten times better than a half-decent meal you buy a restaurant. It tastes even better if you grew the ingredients. So everything we made in the garden was pretty fantastic.
Now that the season is over, what are your thoughts overall on the experience? Will you do this again next year? In the video you said something about finding a bigger space. Overall it was a fun summer project. I lived in that spot for nearly three years and didn't know any of my neighbors. Now I know a lot of them by name. If the space is unused in the spring, I'll take it over again. If they do use the space I have my eye on a few spots that could be a nice spot for tomatoes and cucumbers. I can't tell you where they are though. I don't want you to blow my cover.