I recently ran into a very interesting new concept for vegetable gardening. It is called “yardsharing.” Say someone has some yard space and would like to have a small vegetable garden, but doesn’t have a clue about how to get started or what to do afterward. The solution is for that homeowner to find one, two, or three persons or families who do know how to grow vegetables but live in an apartment or town house or someplace with no property on which to garden. The result is “yardsharing.” The homeowner donates that space and the gardeners set up and manage the garden and everyone shares in the harvest.
For example, take a senior citizen living in a house with a yard with space, but who physically is not able to garden. “Gardening Person” comes and sets up and runs the garden. The senior citizen gets half the harvest but probably won’t be able to handle that much. Extra goes to the food bank or the Garden Writers’ “Plant a Row For The Hungry.”
Gardening Person would rent a roto-tiller to break up the turf and dig the garden. Raised beds are optional. Gardening Person, after talking veggie preferences with “Host Homeowner,” purchases seed and seedlings then plants the garden. How much the Host Homeowner does is up for discussion. The system still works if the homeowner plays no role whatsoever; the harvest is still split 50-50 and it is still a good deal for both sides.
This idea apparently was conceived in Portland, Ore., and has spread to many other states. The Portland folks have a great Web site at www.yardsharing.com. There are hundreds of gardens in Portland that use yardsharing.
We have our own yardsharing program alive and well in southeastern Michigan. Go to http://hyperlocavore.ning.com/group/seekingyardsharesdetroit.
This arrangement is very similar to my foster apple tree idea. Some years ago I wrote about taking advantage of the thousands of full-sized old apple trees that are in backyards and have not been cared for in decades. The apples are small and wormy and the lawn is covered with rotten apples every fall.
The solution to this problem is for the owner of the apple tree, who knows nothing about caring for an apple tree, to find one, two, or three families with someone in the group who does know what to do. It takes three years to properly prune a tree that has not been pruned in many, many years. You can’t just clean it out in one season. However, even after the first pruning, if the tree is sprayed properly, the apple harvest will be edible.
A mature apple tree, properly cared for, can produce more apples than four families would ever be able to eat. There would be enough apples to also make some tasty apple cider.
Sharing is good for the tummy and good for the soul.