Who wouldn’t want to eat fresh, organic, local food that’s free?
Simon Chauvette and Tejaswinee Jhunjhunwala discuss Landshare, an initiative originating in the UK that connects people to land, giving everyone the opportunity to grow food.
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 people who wouldn’t otherwise have it. However, despite the phenomenal rate at which community gardens are springing up around the city, a lot of their waiting lists are as long as a few years!
On the other side of the fence, most homeowners in the city have a yard, lawn or an extra piece of land that they’re not using fully, and thus have some room to share. A lot of these landowners would love to use their space to grow organic food, but don’t have the time or expertise to do it.
Some helpers might be willing to share their knowledge through mentoring, while other enthusiastic gardeners might just want to learn more about gardening.
Enter Landshare Canada – a free web platform that matches the needs of growers to the yields of 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 can have a tremendous impact on the total water consumption and waste production, while greatly enhancing 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), adopted 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 user-friendly interface allows members to set up groups and find helpful organizations like horticultural societies and related local businesses. Members can create their own blog for sharing pictures, information and ideas. The forums and how-to guides make it even easier for beginners to get their hands dirty, and the template agreements 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.