Landsharing

Goodlifer: Landsharing

“Share your passion. Share your produce. That’s what Landshare is all about,” says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, founder of Landshare, a British website that connects landowners with people wanting space to grow vegetables. It’s a bit like online dating mixed with Craigslist, in a farm setting. This idea is not new, similar initiatives have been started in many places. A while back, we wrote about Stacey Murphy, whose BK Farmyards is trying to do the same thing locally in Brooklyn, NY. SharedEarth.com is an American website that is doing the same thing. What is notable, however, is how these initiatives are sprouting up all over the world. Sharing land and coming together for the sake of producing healthy food is a highly current pastime.

At its core, the landshare movement is about creating a sense of community and sharing.

At its core, the landshare movement is about creating a sense of community and sharing.

Plowing the ground to prepare the Woolacombe plots shown in the top photo.

Plowing the ground to prepare the Woolacombe plots shown in the top photo.

Maybe it started with us all learning, through films like Food, Inc. and people like Jamie Oliver, how truly messed up our current food system is? Maybe the evolution was simply inevitable?

The land is meant to bring us bounty, and it seems that for some time now we have wasted its capacity on cultivating things like lawns which are, if you think about it, utterly useless. Artist Fritz Haeg has been taking on front lawns, one by one, His book Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn chronicles his journey of lawn-transformation, from Europe all the way to middle America. I saw him speak on a food panel at radio channel WNYC here in New York a while ago, and he said something that really stuck with me (I am quoting from memory).

Landshare plots come in all different shapes and sizes — something could grow anywhere.

Landshare plots come in all different shapes and sizes — something could grow anywhere.

Landshare plots come in all different shapes and sizes — something could grow anywhere.

Front lawns are the ultimate signs of submission — they are all the same and pose no threat whatsoever to the uniformity of the neighborhood. Once people start utilizing the land in front of their houses, that becomes a whole different story. Are they crazy? Are they growing marijuana? Are they communists? If I had a front lawn (I happen to live in a second floor apartment with no outdoor space except an illicit garden on the fire escape), I would tear up the lawn and plant more food than I could ever eat, if only to mess with the neighbors.

One landsharer's vision for his garden design, posted on landshare.net.

One landsharer’s vision for his garden design, posted on landshare.net.

Landsharing connects those that have land, on the countryside as well as the city, but lack the interest in cultivating it with those who are landless but have a strong urge to, for one reason or the other, grow vegetables. The grower gives the landowner a share of the produce from the land and it’s a win-win for all. Or, to quote bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell: “Whoa! Shared Earth is a great idea.”

One of the landshare plots, before it was cleared to give room for a bountiful garden.

One of the landshare plots, before it was cleared to give room for a bountiful garden.

To be proudly displayed in a newly planted garden near you?

To be proudly displayed in a newly planted garden near you?

Shared Earth has to date facilitated the sharing of 33,971,830 square feet on land, and Landshare has 47,622 members so far. Whether you have the gift of land or are blessed with a green thumb, it’s time to join the landsharing revolution.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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  1. I love that this is becoming a worldwide phenomenon; i remember when i was growing up in the UK, right after the war; god that ages me doesn’t it, anyway, there were all these little shared victory gardens in every town…brilliant that this idea is back in style.

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