Despite what the temperatures suggest, spring is not far away. And for those of us who like to muck around in the dirt, that means it's time to think about gardening. According to what I’ve been reading more and more Americans are getting interested in devoting time and ground to grow food- 7 million more households in 2009 than in 2008 says a poll by the National Gardening Association. Confirming the trend an article in USA Today last week reported a double digit increase in sales for the country’s largest seed retailers.
Economic pressures and the need many are feeling to cut costs are a big part of what’s spurring the desire to plant things that will go from soil to plate. Coupled with the health and environmental benefits of eating fresh, locally grown food rather than stuff transported from thousands of miles away- and what could be more local than your own backyard- it’s an idea with no downside. There’s serious talk at my house about roto-tilling most of our lawn to turn it into a little piece of urban farmland.
But not everyone has the place, time, or physical ability to grow tomatoes and zucchini. Some visionary folks in our community want to help. Peter McDermott of Entrepreneurs for Sustainability and the founder of a social networking site for people interested in building a viable, enduring regional food system, has created a matchmaking service that connects people with a plot of unused land and those who are willing and able to make it productive. At www.localfoodcleveland.org/landshare you can post “space to share” or “looking for space listings” and click on map to find out where gardening opportunities are located. The terms of the arrangement - whether money changes hands or bounty is shared by land owner and grower, and other practical details- are totally up to the participants. There’s not much activity there- yet because the venture is brand new and word is just starting to spread. But it’s a very exciting idea with huge potential. Check it out and tell everyone you know to do the same.