Sharing Backyard: More Than Just a Good Idea

Organic Harvest by US Department of Agriculture
Organic Harvest
by US Department
of Agriculture

The world population is expected to grow to 9 billion during the next 40 years. If the current trend of growing consumer demand remains unchanged, we'll have to deal with many serious agricultural issues. A major portion of the world's productive land is already under some form of cultivation and the increasing demand will require considerable additional land and investment. Land sharing is one of the possible land-use strategy options that could help to improve environmental protection as well as food security. As Bonnie Alter from says, land sharing is "a scheme which puts people with large unused gardens in touch with gardeners wanting space." This simple and optimistic idea links people who register their interest as a grower, a spotter (a person who's seen land in his or her area that might be suitable for growing), or an owner.

Landshare Canada

Even though there's plenty of unused land in Canada, many of those who'd like to grow their own food are unable to do so since they live in condos or apartments. On the other hand, many homeowners would welcome some help with their garden or would like to transform their mowed lawn into a fertile food garden.

Backyard Jungle by hardworkinghippy
Backyard Jungle
by Irene Kightley

Landshare Canada is a free online platform that connects people who have a passion for growing their own food to those who have spare land and are willing to share it. Not only does this idea promote healthy eating but it also motivates people to build communities, increase food security, and have fun growing their own food. The concept of Landshare has its origins in the UK, where it started as a television program in 2009, and since then has grown into a voluminous community of more than 60,000 growers, sharers, and helpers across the country.

This fantastic initiative, which was launched in Canada in May 2011, has so far met with an extremely positive response. The number of members is growing every day and their website is buzzing with activity. You can fid many interesting and useful posts about how to grow, offer, or find land.

If you want to grow your own vegetables and you don't have anywhere to do it, if you have a spare bit of land that you're willing to share, or if you just want to find some information and knowledge about growing and land sharing, you should definitely sign up and join this great movement or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Garden Sharing in Toronto

Colourful Harvest by Greg Younger
Colourful Harvest
by Greg Younger

In late summer 2009, Suzan Poizner launched a program called Sharing Backyards to bring together gardeners and non-gardeners who have extra backyard space. Sharing Backyards is a website where people post ads from "green thumbs" who are looking for suitable growing spots and "brown thumbs" who possess the land but don't have enough time that they could spend in their backyards. As a reward for their soil and water, they get half the bounty. This project is beneficial for growing local food and people are very keen to share their backyard to a food growing enthusiast. In Toronto, approximately 80 per cent of all green spaces shared are front- and backyards.

Sharing Backyards began in Victoria three years ago and since then has spread to a huge number of cities across North America. The free program offers much more than healthy, fresh food without greenhouse gas emissions, chemicals, or even electricity from refrigeration. It also includes a crash course in the true cost of food. Sharing Backyards created a community of people who share their land, food, and valuable information. Amy Pennington, founder of Seattle's Urban Garden Share website, points out that "it helps people understand just what they're consuming."

Furthermore, people renewed the forgotten tradition of unexpected visits to a neighbour's home. Sharing Backyards has helped to create lots of new friendships since it started in 2009. Homeowners are getting free produce as well as new friends and lessons on how to grow food. The founder of Sharing Backyards, Suzan Poizner said that for her:

There's nothing more fun than walking down the road and knowing the people who live in the different houses and being able to drop in for a cup of tea. It's so fun to watch a garden grow and to participate together.

The project encourages people to learn more about growing their own food and healthy eating as well as to help other and become more active. The community encourages its members to participate in various other programs and activities such as those organized by The Stop, a community food centre that promotes access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community, and challenges inequality.

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