UK Guerrilla Growers- An Interview

Liz Filmer
09 Jun 2022

There is a community of "guerrilla growers" growing weed on thousands of secret, outdoor sites across the UK. You won't stumble upon one whilst walking the dog down the park. It mainly happens in sparsely forested areas between motorway junctions, where most people have no reason to be.  

Why are growers turning to outdoor cultivation? Many of them see it as a more attractive alternative to growing indoors with all the hassle, equipment and expense that come with it. For others, it's more about trying to do things naturally and head down the organic route. 

Whatever it is, it's gaining in popularity. There are estimated to be between 1,000 and 3,000 active guerrilla growers in the UK. 

We talked to a few guerrilla growers to learn more about the scene. 

So, what made you decide to try Guerrilla growing?

The primary motivation is a big fuck you to the UK cannabis laws. Those who maintain it and those who benefit from it, who, funnily enough, are sometimes the same people!.

There is a feeling of adventure and excitement from doing it, though.

It's great not to have to rely on dealers as well. By growing our supply, we know exactly where our weed comes from and what is in it.

How big an operation do you run outside?

We grow around 100 plants between 4 sites around the south coast of England. We harvest roughly 40 ounces of organic weed yearly, which is enough for us. We don't get greedy as that is how you get caught. 

Isn't it hard to grow outdoors in the UK climate?

It's not easy, but it is possible. The fact we are near the South Coast, where the weather is probably much warmer on average than the rest of the UK, does help. Our plants speak for themselves, though. They are tall, bushy and can be anywhere between 9-15ft. We use seeds designed for outdoor climates that are more temperate, like the UK.

Due to global warming, though, the English weather is getting better. Our Springs and Summers have had record-breaking periods over the last few years, which has helped. However, it has been a real pain trying to keep the plants hydrated.

What is the process of Guerrilla growing?

The whole thing takes about eight months from the outset to harvest. We are hunting for new grow sites from February, planting in April and harvesting in late September/early October. In between, that is a lot of feeding and watering. We usually use organic nutrients and additives and make our own where we can, like compost tea, green manure and animal waste.

What is the riskiest bit of Guerrilla growing?

Harvesting because that is when at some point, we end up driving around in a transit van packed full of freshly cut weed! Most of our grows are near motorways, so for extra cover, we tend to do most of the moving around at night and hide in plain sight with hi-vis jackets and hard hats. When have you ever seen a worker on the motorway and thought, oh, he looks suspicious? No one looks twice!

What do you look for in a new growing site?

The essential things are safety, sunlight and decent soil. If we can find a local water source, that is the cherry on the cake. On top of that, you need to think about human interference. It needs to be a place no one has a reason to go to and would find it excessively challenging to reach. 

That is why sites near motorways, major junctions and train lines are good. They are relatively wild, inaccessible and unlikely just to be stumbled upon by someone out for a walk. In practical terms, the plot also needs to be south-facing and provide the plants with 6-8 hours of direct sun daily; the more, the better. It's a balancing act between being open enough for adequate sunlight but hidden sufficiently for security.

Is it true that you use drones to check your plots?

The drones give us a way to check the health of plants without having to trek out to the spot all the time. They are also are an excellent excuse for why we are out there, too, should anyone ask, which they haven't. 

What would you advise anyone thinking of giving Guerrilla growing a go?

Get online first. Many forums will give you tips on what seeds to buy and practical solutions to all your questions. The main thing is to getout there and give it a try. Don't expect major success straight away, either. It's a process, and there will likely be a lot of failures before you get success. The English weather, after all, is still very unpredictable. Start small and be super cautious. We have been doing this a few years now, and we still lose the odd crop, as, despite your best efforts, the police get lucky every time.








Liz Filmer