Growing together

It’s the weekend, and spring is on the way, so what better subject for the third post in my series on sharing stuff and working together than growing food?

Growing our own food helps us appreciate where the rest of the food we buy comes from, and connects us again with the earth and with our bodies – especially after an afternoon of digging or weeding! It also makes financial sense. Not everyone has a garden, and allotments are so popular that waiting lists can be years long. But there are other people who have a garden or some land, which they might not be able to manage.

“There’s a long waiting list for allotments, but I’m not doing anything with my garden”

Did you know that there are over 700 people on the waiting list for allotments in Exeter? So, closer to home, the fabulous ECI Harvest Project is running its own Exeter Garden Match. The Harvest team will set up initial introductions and provide ongoing support to growers and owners as needed. It’s Landshare plus the personal touch, giving an extra dimension of connection and trust. [2014 update – the Harvest Project and Garden Match scheme have now closed.]

Landshare connects people who want to grow food with people who have land to share. It’s for people who:

  • want to grow their own fruit and veg but don’t have anywhere to do it;
  • have a spare bit of land they’re prepared to share;
  • can help in some way – from sharing knowledge and lending tools to helping out on the plot itself;
  • support the idea of freeing up more land for growing;
  • are already growing and want to join in the community.

The website has a good map of Land offered, Growers and Helpers. Organisations can have their own area on the site, or you can get together with other members to form groups. [Update: Landshare has been closed too, but there are local schemes such as Dyfi Land Share in Machynlleth and Edinburgh Garden Partners. The Gardenshare scheme in Totnes is no more but the website still offers guidance to starting a local scheme.]

In my next post, some more great community growing projects in and around Exeter…