growing together

Community gardens are at least as much about community as they are about gardening.

From 120 miles away, I followed in the pages of the Los Angeles Times the final days of what was then the country’s largest community garden. In a controversial land deal, the city had sold the site just south of downtown Los Angeles where almost 350 families had been growing crops for their kitchens or for sale, and the community gardeners faced having their spaces bulldozed. The story of the gardeners trying to save their spaces in the face of a city government bent on finding more profitable uses made for compelling newspaper copy, and it’s now the subject of The Garden, the Academy Award nominated documentary that is making its way around the country in general release.

Check out its most current screening dates on Facebook. The film came to town two weeks ago, but it was gone within a week, like much of the produce grown in the garden it profiled.

Yard-sharing offers a smaller-scale alternative to the larger community gardens and some of the politics that go with it. Hyperlocavore is a social network that helps to match up people who want to garden with homeowners or renters who want to produce food on their land but lack the time or expertise to do it.

It’s a fairly new space online, and not all communities have people who want to participate. Here in San Diego, for instance, there’s currently only one person on the site. But with growing press, there should be more collaborators signed up. It’s a great concept, building community, one garden at a time.

You can also check some of the other garden-based social networks on Ning: Here. There might be just the perfect space for you and your interests. And if not, you can create one.

7 thoughts on “growing together”

  1. Yard sharing – brilliant idea indeed – simple too. I heard an interview on NPR with a British guy who is a “guerilla gardener” – sneaking into derelict spots you don’t own and clearing and planting. He said mostly nobody minds once they see you are actually returning and maintaining the gardens. Thanks for letting your reading public know about the documentary – will look out for it.

  2. I saw The Garden a couple of months ago. I knew nothing about the story, so it was a really gripping story. I found it a really interesting cultural document, they really gardened like people from another country and culture, planting rows of prickly pear and papaya and so forth, stuff I would never think to grow.

  3. Country Mouse, I think that was Richard Reynolds. I did a post on him and guerrilla gardening a while back. It’s an idea whose time has come. There are so many wasted city spaces that need some attention.

    Ryan, I’m glad to hear from someone who’s actually seen it. Fortunately it’s out on DVD (or just about to be) so those of us who missed it can get a look. We have a perfectly good prickly pear that keeps popping itself over the wall. John got some lessons in making nopales from it a while back and we really should do more with it that just hauling the sprawly bits to the dump.

  4. Thank you so much for the post! Yes, we are thin in certain areas, but the idea is so new. We really need help getting the word out! You can let your network of friends know about the site and yard sharing and at the same time help other find partners by using the INVITE feature on the site.

    Perhaps few people are listed in SD for instance, but maybe your extended network has someone in it that may be interested. Our extended networks are actually huge!
    So invite yours and see who they invite!

    Again thanks so much for helping us get the idea out there. It’s pretty clear to me that it will just keep growing. I’ve only been up for a few months.

    Also – the permanent link is – to keep that link working you might want to change it.

    Take care!


  5. I actually have been gardening my friends’ yard this year since with their new baby, they just don’t have time. Plus, it gives me space to put all that squash!

  6. Liz, thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging everyone to get involved. Hyperlocavore is an exciting concept and I hope it gets all the support and interest it deserves. I’d be happy to modify the link so people will be sure to be able to find you.

    Sylvana, that’s a great arrangement. Hooking up with people you know is probably the easiest way to get going with yard sharing–you get over the “blind date” way of meeting prospective gardeners or homeowners. Good luck with the squash!

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