Hooking Up

Posted Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 at 1:41 pm

One of the big hurdles for an apartment gardener is finding a plot to plant in.

True, a lot can be done with containers, and I’m going to start that project in full in the New Year.  However, a container garden on a concrete patio just isn’t the same as having a real patch of earth to smell, dig and roll around in.

Last year, I signed up for one of the 117 spaces in the three community gardens run by the City of Santa Monica.  The average wait time is five years.

That’s 20 seasons! Hopefully by then this blog will be called Evangeline’s Palatial Farms.

Luckily, there’s a new idea that’s recently sprouted up to address the high demand and low supply of public gardening spaces.  It’s called garden sharing.

Locally there are two programs, Growfriend.org and Santa Monica’s Garden Sharing Registry, that seek to create a “patch made in heaven” by pairing desperate, bio-love seeking gardeners with the lonely, unused yards of homeowners.

Filling out my profile for Growfriend.org, run by the L.A. Community Garden Council, brought me right back to my days of internet dating.  Set up as a social networking site, Growfriend seeks to create “robust gardens” by making lasting garden-sharing partnerships.

I spent about 10 minutes answering all kinds of questions about my intentions and experiences, trying to make myself as attractive as possible.  Was I dependable, knowledgeable, emotionally and psychologically available to devote myself to a long-term relationship?

I couldn’t help but think of Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire. Here I was trying to sound as appealing as I could to a potential garden patch.

I even uploaded a photo of myself gazing adoringly upon a squash.

With my profile done, I was able to access a map that detailed the gardeners and land holders in my neighborhood.  I could then email my profile off and hopefully find my ideal gardening partner.

So far, I’m still gardenlorn.

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The Garden Sharing Registry, launched in September, is run by the Community and Cultural Services Department of Santa Monica.  Registration is done the old fashioned way: download a form and mail it in.  So far, they’ve only had one successful match, but the program is still young.


On a nationwide level, Hyperlocavore is another social network launched in January that is organizes yard-sharing as a way of promoting  locally grown produce.

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Garden sharing is brilliant idea that will help people go beyond the lawn, create edible landscapes and bring neighborhoods together. It’s a concept I hope America will fall in love with.