You might have a strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk that’s looking sad, or a backyard that yearns for a garden but you don’t have time. And, gosh, you’d like to be able to meet some of your neighbors. And organic produce is sooo expensive from the grocer down the street. You are a candidate for yardsharing! Community (sometimes called allotment) gardens have traditionally filled that need. But in many places, the converging trends of local food, food security, and economic hardship have resulting in long waiting lists for community garden plots. So creative gardeners are filling that gap using yardsharing.
Yardsharing is the perfect combination of community gardening, local food, slow food, and social networking. Yardsharing has probably always been done on a small scale, but in the last while, it has become a growing (pun intended) trend in North America and Europe. Yard sharing connects someone with space for a garden but no time, ability or inclination to plant one with someone who has time to create a garden but no space – because, for instance, they live in an apartment. In return, the person with the space receives a share of the food the garden produces.
Yardsharing is an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources – space, time, strength, tools – in order to grow food as locally as possible, to make neighborhoods resilient, kids healthy and food much cheaper.
Liz McLellan, the founder of Hyper-locavore – Yard Sharing, a free online yardsharing community, goes further in her description. She says, “Yardsharing is an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources – space, time, strength, tools – in order to grow food as locally as possible, to make neighborhoods resilient, kids healthy and food much cheaper! The group can be friends, family, neighbors, members of a faith community (or any combination). Sometimes, older people lack stamina and are socially isolated; finding younger people to partner in growing food together works wonderfully for all.” (A hyperlocavore is a person who tries to eat as much food as locally as possible. Growing your own is as local as it gets!)
As McLellan suggests, this simple exchange of land for labor becomes much more than gardening. It is about connecting with your neighbors (including those of different ages and from different socio-economic conditions), reducing our carbon footprint, teaching children about food, community empowerment, and helping others (excess food can be donated to food banks). In short, it helps create sustainable communities.
Victoria, B.C.-based Sharing Backyards notes that “neighborhood” is the operative word in creating an effective yardsharing relationship, stressing that it’s about “location, location, location!”. They and other groups try to link people who are geographically close to each other because “a garden that is close to where the gardener lives is more likely to receive the love and care it needs to thrive.” Joshua Patterson, the founder of Portland Yard Sharing, and one of the movement pioneers, agrees. He advises, “Look for someplace you walk past all the time, someplace you can run to if you need something else for your dinner party. The idea here is to keep it close if possible.”