Foodie Underground: Sharing Is Caring…at Least in Your Yard


I grew up with a garden. My mother even made sure that I had my own plot (it consisted of mostly sunflowers and a few weeds). But not until recently did I really discover the joy of tending to plants. There’s something about gardening that invokes a raw feeling within you. Getting your hands dirty, digging in the soil, watching seeds turn to seedlings and eventually filling your plate with produce that you were 100 percent responsible for cultivating. But as urbanites know very well, finding the space and time to take part in the grow-your-own-food revolution isn’t always easy.

Rural dwellers with expansive plots that fit beautifully crafted beds are lucky, but there are many city residents out there crammed into tight spaces that barely fit their kitchen tables, much less a fully functional salad breeding ground. Enter yard-sharing.

The basic principles to yard-sharing are pretty straightforward: people come together to share space, skills and time in order to grow food. Community gardens have been around for decades, but the trend of sharing your backyard with a group of like minded people is fairly recent, and taking part is simple. All you have to do is find a space and the people to share it with.

The online community, Hyperlocavore, is playing a big role in spreading the word about yard-sharing, and helping to connect like-minded individuals. What’s a “hyperlocavore”? Simply a person who tries to eat as much food as locally as possible. Before this lifestyle might have been served by shopping at farmers markets or taking part in a CSA, but opting for a yard-share allows individuals who believe in eating locally the ability to make a more genuine connection with their food, as well.

As we all know, space isn’t the only obstacle to growing your own food; growing a garden from scratch, even if you have the space for it, can be daunting, which is why the support of a farm-savvy community is key. Sites like Hyperlocavore aren’t just making sure people find a green space to grow their own food in, but also feel empowered to do so.

There are also regional-specific sites focused on bringing locals together to cooperatively grow food. Portland has one. In fact, the city known for its commitment to sustainable food and lifestyles also has an Urban Farm Collective and Urban Farm Hub offer the latest and greatest of what’s going on with urban farms around the country, including some features on yard-sharing. But since yard-sharing hasn’t hit the mainstream yet, sometimes your best bet for meeting fellow gardeners and finding the optimal space is word of mouth and places like Craigslist.

Then there are those who know that their green thumbs will never develop but still want to make sure their garden space is being put to good use. What’s an eco-savvy home or land owner to do? Find a match for your garden. In Seattle Urban Garden Share is an online space that matches local gardens or garden spaces with seasoned gardeners. That means your green space is being put to good use, even if you don’t have the time to do it yourself. And even if you aren’t well versed in the skills of gardening but looking to find somewhere to learn, resources like this can be a great help.

Ready for locally, hand-grown veggies this spring? Start yard hunting!

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of Anna Brones’s new column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.

Image: Gabriel Kamener, Sown Together

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.