Six years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia, an innovative volunteer began a trend that is now operating in twenty North American cities and counting. Termed “Land Share”, “Sharing Backyards” or “Urban Garden Share” is a way for people in urban centres to garden and share. It is a simple yet wonderful concept, not everyone has the ability or time to garden. Though, there are some with a green thumb but no space to put it into practice. Bringing these two parties together, creates a garden space and an end of season harvest for two families! Through programs like Sharing Backyards ; people who have the land but no time or ability to garden can share their land with individuals who are green thumbs. At the end of the season, both parties split the harvest equally. It is an amazing grass roots approach to local food sourcing! Also, it is teaching both parties involved about community, teamwork and the true cost of food. The price of produce seem in the large grocery chains does usually not reflect the true cost of production. That is to say to include the labour, time, and materials used to grow said produce.
Equally beneficially, are the positive environmental impacts. Firstly, growing your own food helps to reduce your carbon footprint. It eliminates the need to consume resources for food transportation. Secondly, gardening is good for the local environment. It aids in protecting and increasing the local biodiversity and aids to support the communal ecosystem. Through techniques such as companion planting, one can reduce the need for harmful herbicides and insecticides while supporting a healthy insect population in the garden.
Sharing land and resources will also help to create new notions of community or strengthen old ones. Historically, neighbours have been there to support one another. This program brings back an old custom, that in the last fifty years has slowly been dying. Bringing people together through food, whether in production or feast has always made us closer. It allows us to see what makes all of us similar, celebrate differences, celebrate nature and the bounty from earth that our hard work yields. Most important, it breaks down barriers around race, status in life, family situations, economic status and knowledge.
Urban gardening is a must as we move further into the 21st century. It will help to foster a strong, local secure food source. It will allow us to act in an environmentally sustainable manner, growing and consuming in season. Reducing demands on resources for food production and transportation. Finally it will bring our families and communities closer: making life better for everyone!
Ecology Action Centre: http://www.ecologyaction.ca/content/food
Sharing Backyards: http://www.sharingbackyards.com/