Connecting Growers to People with Land to Share
By: Simon Chauvette and Tejaswinee Jhunjhunwala
Who would not want to eat fresh, organic, healthy, local food that’s free?
One of the biggest drawbacks of living in a condo or apartment building is the lack of space to grow food. Community gardens are a great way of making land accessible to those people. However, even with the phenomenal rate at which these community gardens are being built around the city, a lot of their waiting lists still span over a couple of years! The wait for these growers is often long!
On the other side of the fence, most homeowners in the city have a yard, lawn or an extra piece of land that they are often not using fully, and thus have some room to share. A lot of these landowners would love to have organic food grow out of their space. It could be in the form of a food forest, a flower garden, an aquaculture pond, or bee hives – however not everyone has the time or expertise to do it.
Some helpers might be willing to share their knowledge through mentoring other enthusiastic gardeners while other helpers might just want to learn more about gardening.
Enter Landshare Canada – a free web platform that connects growers to people with land to share. It’s an easy way to turn what can be a chore for some into a fun and rewarding learning experience. Better still, it’s not just about eating organic, it also helps increase food security and local access to fresh and healthy food. Growing food is one of the smartest things one can do because of its tremendous impact on total water consumption, waste production as well as individual and collective health. And it’s a lot of fun! It allows the whole group – landowners, growers and helpers – to set the example, increase their positive footprint and build a community of conscious consumers.
Landshare was originally started in 2009 in the UK and it now boasts of almost 60,000 members. It resonates closely with the collaborative consumption movement, which emphasizes access to resources over ownership. In March 2011, Shared Earth (the biggest landsharing site in the United States), accepted to adopt the Landshare technology platform; Landshare Australia was launched in January 2011 and has already more than 700 members.
Landshare Canada, a registered not-for-profit organization, is aiming to be launched on Earth Day, April 22 (the websites be accessible by the time you read this). The user-friendly interface also allows members to have their own blog where they can share pictures, information and ideas. They can set up groups and find helpful organizations like the Calgary Horticultural Society and related local businesses. The forums and how-to guides make it even easier for beginners to get their hands dirty and the template agreements available help landowners and growers define how (or whether) they share the produce as well as how much time and effort each person is expected to put in.
This is a growing movement in Calgary. SPIN (small-plot intensive) farmers like Jester Suzuki (Sustainable Urban Food Farms) and Rod Olson and Chad Kile (Leaf and Lyre) are sharing land to grow produce on others’ backyards and selling it at farmers markets.
Sign up, look for landowners/growers, meet with them and get growin’!
Join the movement at http://www.landsharecanada.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.