Garden sharing

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Garden sharing or urban horticulture sharing is a local food and urban farming arrangement where a landowner allows a gardener access to land, typically a front or back yard, in order to grow food.

This may be an informal, one-to-one relationship, but numerous Web-based projects exist to facilitate matchmaking. In some cases, garden sharing projects are launched as a way to shorten community garden waiting lists that are common in many cities.[1][2]


Garden sharing arrangements take two main forms. The simplest is an agreement between two parties: one supplies the land, the other supplies the labour, and the proceeds are shared. In larger collaborations, groups, often neighbours, share garden spaces, labour and the harvest.[3]

The specifics addressed by a garden sharing agreement are potentially numerous, and the contract itself may be simple or exhaustive. Issues to be considered include terms of access, acceptable behavior, and who supplies what as far as gardening equipment and supplies. At one end of the scale, a verbal arrangement may be all that is expected.[4] However, garden sharing organisations often suggest a written agreement and supply sample contracts.[5][6][7] Organisers may also interview participants before suggesting a match.[8]

Garden sharing projects[edit]

The Web is frequently used as a platform for initiating garden sharing arrangements. Web sites connecting landowners and growers are generally free and non-commercial. Web sites are instituted by a variety of parties, including private individuals, government agencies, and non-profit groups.

North America[edit]

A number of local, regional and national programs exist across the U.S. and Canada, including:

  • is a community marketplace website where property owners can add a listing, make arrangements with local urban farmers, and get paid to lend their land. The site was launched in 2016 and featured by 1 Million Women.[9] Soil Surfer's aim is to radically lower the barriers to entry for both urban farmers, and urban property owners.[10]
  • of Portland, Oregon, is a free online service devoted to connecting renters with landowners, with the goal of creating food for all. The website, created in 2007 by Joshua Patterson, resulted from a local media campaign to find relief for the Portland Community Gardens Program.[1]
  • is a free, U.S.-based international service that matches garden owners with gardeners, and facilitates the set-up of neighbourhood produce exchanges and other sharing projects.[1]
  •, run by a sustainability NPO in Victoria, British Columbia, was launched in 2006 by a volunteer at a community garden—the free programme is now in over 20 cities across North America.[2]
  •, matching garden owners with gardeners, started in the Seattle, Washington (U.S. state) region, the result of a collaboration between an individual and a local sustainability group.,[11] and has grown to cover a number of cities in several states.[12]


In the UK, Landshare is a high-profile national garden sharing project in England, spearheaded by celebrity chef and TV personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in conjunction with public-service broadcaster Channel 4.[13] Growers, landowners and volunteers can, at no charge, register their interest in participating in a share in their area. There are over 40,000 members. Although this is a number that have registered since 2009 when the social enterprise was first publicized widely, since then its activity has decreased.[14][15] Scotland, has only one project, a charity called Edinburgh Garden Partners which has over 60 gardens throughout the city shared by volunteers. The charity aims to promote locally grown food and the skills of doing so with supporting older and disabled people who can no longer manage their garden.

In France, Prêter son jardin ("Garden lending") is a garden sharing web site started by a journalist in 2010.[16]


Garden sharing projects are also incorporated into larger sustainability schemes. Transition Town Totnes (Totnes, England)[17][18][19] and Transition Timaru (Timaru, NZ)[20] have instituted garden sharing projects as part of their Transition Towns efforts to prepare communities on a local level for the effects of climate change and peak oil.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Modern-day sharecropping Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2009
  2. ^ a b Garden-sharing program bears fruit The Star, July 10, 2009
  3. ^ Like an eager vine, urban garden sharing spreads its roots The Oregonian, June 04, 2009
  4. ^ "Growing Relations" Urban Garden Share, US
  5. ^ The Sharing Solution by Emily Doskow, Janelle Orsi pp. 259-262 (Nolo, 2009)
  6. ^ 'Sharecropper contract' binds landowner, gardener by Cathy Locke. Colorado Springs Gazette. June 1, 2009.
  7. ^ "Sample agreements: Pro forma templates" Landshare, UK
  8. ^ Grassroots garden sharing scheme blooms (The Bath Chronicle). May 27, 2009.
  9. ^ What’s mine is yours: Sharing land to help grow a more sustainable future by Steph Newman. 1 Million Women. April 04, 2016.
  10. ^ Soil Surfer is a new initiative to help make a positive environmental, social and economic impact on cities and neighborhoods by enabling urban farmers easy access to local grow space.
  11. ^ Saving the planet, one block, one small project at a time by Mary Rothschild. Seattle Times. August 10, 2009.
  12. ^ Urban Garden Share has listings for Seattle, Wa, Whatcom Co, Wa, Bellingham, Wa, Louisville, Ky, Atlanta, Ga, Boise, Id, Santa Cruz, Ca, and Sonoma County, Ca, as of 30 September 2014
  13. ^ Harrison, Linda. "Garden sharing: growing your own vegetables on someone else's patch". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  14. ^ Garden sharing scheme to fight credit crunch. (Lincolnshire Echo). March 21, 2009.
  15. ^ Landshare, in conjunction with public-service broadcaster Channel 4.
  16. ^ "Preter son Jardin". Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Transition Town Totnes Garden Share Project is part of the Transition Towns initiative in Totnes, Devon, England.
  18. ^ Transition: gearing up for the great power-down by Luke Leitch. TimesOnline (The Times). November 17, 2008.
  19. ^ Garden scheme to grow food (video) BBC News. Monday, 13 October 2008.
  20. ^ Berry, Michael (August 12, 2009). "Local food advocates seek Aoraki links". The Timaru Herald. Retrieved September 30, 2011. 

External links[edit]