Friday, November 26, 2010

Green-Aid Seedbomb Vending Machine

Below is a post by our VFVC intern, Michelle Skolnik, who has recently moved to the Northeast Kingdom. She shares her perspective about keeping our spaces green and cared for, no matter where you live.

Green-Aid Seedbomb Vending Machine
by Michelle Skolnik

A friend recently shared a project with me, that was created by Common Studio, a California-based design practice. She sent me a video that the designers made about their Green-Aid Seedbomb Dispensers, which you can watch here:

A “seed-bomb” is a ball made of clay, compost, and seeds which can be placed just about anywhere with water and sunshine and the seeds will grow right out of the ball. Common Studio recognizes that seed-bombs have been around for a while—which they trace back to New York City in the early seventies. Though the popular term may have been coined in the seventies, the idea seems to have been around since the 1930s. I could not find a credible resource to reference, but a basic Google search suggests that “aerial reforestation” (dropping seeds from flying airplanes) started in the 1930s and has since been tried by many organizations across the world.

Common Studio’s Seedbomb Vending Machine is “an interactive public awareness campaign, a lucrative fundraising tool, and a beacon for small scale grass roots action that engages directly yet casually with local residents” about a common urban issue: the lack of greenspaces and care for the urban environment.

Though the seed-bombs can’t transform a concrete lot into a garden, they can serve as a visual trigger to remind people that transformation can occur, and I see this Seedbomb Vending project as a great conversation starter and as a clever awareness campaign. However, I don’t think this project needs to be limited to cities. A lot of recent attention has been brought to “reclaiming” and transforming urban spaces into green spaces worth caring for. And though I certainly support that idea, I think it is equally as important to encourage people who already live in beautiful greenspaces to take responsibility for them. Here in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, we are fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful mountains, foliage, woods, and agricultural land. For the most part, people seem to care a great deal about them—especially the numerous family farms that exist because of their immaculate care of their personal environments. However, people who live outside of cities are still prone to what many consider to be “urban problems,” like being careless of personal impact on the environment, littering, being wasteful, and lacking access to good, healthy food. Maybe we don’t need to be tossing seed-bombs around to remind us that the place we live can be beautiful, but we might replace seed-bombs for plastic toys in supermarket vending machines to help ease us off desiring 25 cent trinkets that will end up as landfill. Instead of treating our kids to a gumball that they will chew and collect sugar from, why not treat them to a seed-ball that they can drop anywhere and watch grow? Maybe these little vending machines could get people excited about using their yards to grow food or about volunteer to maintain walking trails.

I don’t expect these Seedbomb Vending Machines to accomplish that much in the way of social change, but it is nice to see what kind of innovative ideas people have to engage their communities with important issues. Creativity is one of the most useful tools we have, and I feel that the more of these sorts of projects we are exposed to the better for our own brainstorming. For more information about Common Studio and their GreenAid Machines, you can visit their website at:

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