For years, projects like Fallen Fruit and the Urban Farm Collective have been making it easier for people to access the excess produce and gardening space in their neighborhoods. A new project called Shared Earth brings the concept to a wider market, using the latest peer-to-peer technology to connect gardeners with unused lawns and gardens in their region. Founder Adam Dell describes it this way:
“We’re like a dating site—we don’t tell the two parties where to eat, we just connect them… Gardening is not something you just do for a weekend, you do it every weekend for many years. The relationship is based on trust.”
The site allows both gardeners and homeowners to create a profile, showing whether they are in need of land or tools, or have land or tools they’re willing to offer. After making initial contact, the two parties can communicate with each other through a messaging app to work out a deal. Although the site offers a template for agreements, members can decide for themselves how to allocate gardening time and expenses and distribute the produce.
Shared Earth is run by Sustainable America, a “non-profit organization with the mission to make America’s food and fuel systems more efficient and resilient.” With over 4.5 million acres of backyards sitting underused in the U.S., the site hopes to make a real difference in the community gardening movement. Since the site offers a range of lot sizes, it’s perfect for people who want more space to garden but don’t want to buy land or start a CSA of their own.
Shared Earth is ideal for casual gardeners who just want to grow some veggies, but the site hopes to facilitate more extensive projects too. There are millions more acres of land available in vacant and commercial lots around the country:
“Shared Earth is … set up to accommodate larger projects like hydroponic gardeners looking for warehouse space and landowners looking for professional farmers to tend their land. Need someone to take care of your backyard chicken flock? You might find the right fit.”