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Published July 04 2012

Origin of downtown plant bombs remains unknown, but people catching on to idea

FARGO – About a month after they first appeared, the origin of tomato plants throughout downtown remains a mystery.

There’s been a lot of curiosity about the randomly placed plants, which highlight the concept of community gardening, said Lauryn Whitmer, organizer of the local community gardening group F/M Food Not Lawns.

A laminated card accompanying the plants describes how the tomatoes were “bombed” in buckets around downtown for the public to enjoy, and encourages passers-by to help water and care for them.

Whitmer thinks she’s getting close to figuring out who’s responsible for placing the tomatoes, but she said not knowing doesn’t take away from the point of the “bombing.”

“It’s about bringing an awareness of feeding ourselves to the community in general,” she said.

Now that the tomatoes are starting to ripen, Whitmer, who has helped care for one outside the Red Raven Espresso Parlor at 916 Main Ave., hopes people walking by will help themselves to the fruit. That’s what the card on the plant suggests.

“Hopefully, people are picking them,” she said. “I’m pretty sure that’s the intention – that anyone who wants a tomato when they’re walking by can have a little lunch.”

One of the buckets also sits outside of Atomic Coffee at 220 Broadway, where barista Meg Roberts said she’s noticed her customers seem to have latched on to the idea.

“I’ve noticed that a few of our regulars have taken to carrying the charge for the plants, so that’s pretty cool,” Roberts said.

Whitmer thinks the plant bombs are encouraging area residents to look at other similar opportunities.

“I think people are reassessing how they look at the flowerbeds that the city has in the park and in public spaces,” she said.

Whitmer, who created a Google map of all the plant bomb locations, has been approached by downtown business owners curious about the idea.

They want to know how they can put out their own free, community gardens.

That’s a sign people realize “it’s really easy to just put a tomato in a bucket,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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