Friday, July 10, 2009

Sharing Yards: Another way to Garden

Every summer for the last five years, the neighbors around my block have an alley party complete with moonbounce for the kids and potluck and grills for the adults. Since we've had so much fun at the summer party, we've even begun having a fall party. Held in October, the fall party has face-painting and homemade scarecrows for halloween. These get-togethers have forged wonderful friendships.

At last year's fall party, Scott and I started talking with an elderly neighbor about gardening. She was delighted to hear about what we were doing with our yards. Being nearly 80 and living alone, this neighbor did not have the ability to maintain a vegetable garden. Scott and I asked if we could establish one in her yard, and she immediately said yes.

This spring Scott and I built a few raised beds in our neighbor's yard. Two 4-by-4 beds and one 4-by-8. The 4-by-8 bed has a variety of heirloom tomatoes. One of the 4-by-4 beds has poblano and green bell peppers as well as tomatoes. The other 4-by-4 bed will have arugula. In fact, the first green pepper we picked recently we gave to our neighbor. She was delighted at how we have worked with her in her yard to produce fresh food.

Scott and I care for these plants as if they were ours, but we enjoy the sense of community that this joint effort has created. We have met our neighbors' daughter and grand-daughter, we spend time talking with her when we are watering or weeding, or just checking in, and we feel a stronger bond to our neighbor--and, by extension, our neighborhood.

If you are interested in gardening on more land than you have in your yard, consider asking a neighbor if you can share their space. You may be surprised at how readily they may say 'yes.' Many people have the space to garden but can't garden themselves due to time or physical limitations. Many others have the time or ability but not the space. The Rodgers Forge Farm Initiative encourages others in our neighborhood to seek ways to garden together across our small spaces. We will have a stronger, more closely bonded community if we do.

If anyone has space or time to offer and need help connecting with others on a collaborative garden, please contact us at

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