Have a Big Yard? Get Your Own Sharecropper!

Sometimes when I think the Valley is ahead of the game when it comes to local eating and food trends, I get taken aback by a great idea that nobody has brought here yet. I found out about how some people around the country are enjoying their lives as “lazy locavores.”

A story in the Weekend WSJ described a simple yet game-changing idea: sharing your land with a landless person who’s a better gardener than you, like a small-scale sharecropper.  In Seattle, James Lucal met Michaelynn Ryan through a website called Urban Garden Share. She’s a master gardener with a tiny plot of land; he’s a black thumb builder with a large terraced slope five minutes from her house, that gets great light and needed someone with patience to make it bloom.

The two make a great pair, and they share a huge bounty that’s bigger than both households can consume. Talk about win-win! Gardeners like this idea better than community gardens because there is a problem with vegetable poachers and crowded waiting lists.

Another site is called Sharing Backyards, and this BC-based site has programs in Portland OR, Washington, Boise and little Missoula MT. They’re matching up gardeners with landowners and even plan to create a simple contract to avoid hassles.

In LA, even restaurants are doing it. One called Forage used to barter vegetables from local gardeners for coupons good for dining in their restaurant…and when the city forced them to only buy from licensed purveyers, the owners helped the farmers get licensed.