There are several things that make urban gardening subversive with respect to the corporate power structure. There is the fact that it reduces the need for corporate food and thus eats into corporate profits (pun intended). There is the fact that it reduces demand for the machinery and other products necessary for industrial agriculture and, if lawns and parkways become gardens, all of the machinery and accoutrements associated with landscaping and lawn care. There is the fact that healthier food, the physical exercise required to produce it, and the psychological benefits associated with working in close contact with the natural world will yield a reduction in physical and mental health problems—and thus a reduction in the profits (and thus power) of medical insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and the constellation of corporate vultures encircling the medical community.
And while we are on the topic of big pharma, many of our most effective drug treatments come from plant-based sources that could be cultivated locally and used as alternatives to mass-produced pharmaceuticals. We have been taught through industry propaganda that only industrial drug sources are effective and safe—although a quick perusal of the statistics associated with industrial drugs tells a different story entirely—and that individuals should not take their own medical care into their own hands. We are told that self-treatment is dangerous. Many kinds of self-treatment have actually been made illegal, a potent example of how we have been infantilized and stripped of our independence in the name of corporate profit.
Back to the garden. Growing your own food is empowering. Urban gardening is a way of reversing the passivity and dependence that has become the hallmark of our consumer society. People who have learned how to satisfy their own fundamental need for food are likely to transfer their sense of empowerment to other areas of their lives, to reduce their dependence on the system with respect to satisfying their other needs (fundamental and otherwise). Empowered people are less likely to become passive victims of the system. Empowered people are more likely to be politically active in their own communities, more likely to challenge the legitimacy of authority, less receptive to manipulative fear-based political rhetoric, and less likely to be influenced by corporate advertising. That is, they are less likely to act as timid mindless consumers and more likely to act as human beings.