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Urban sharecropping and the lazy locavore


Got some extra green space in your backyard? If you don't want to farm it, someone else might. Several websites connect urban farmers and landowners who are willing to share the harvest.

Got some extra green space in your backyard? If you don't want to farm it, someone else might. Several websites connect urban farmers and landowners who are willing to share the harvest.

Eating local can be both pricey and time consuming. But not for everyone.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a growing number of “lazy locavores” who open up their yards to people who want to grow food and then take a cut of the harvest in return.

The WSJ story features James Lucal of Seattle:

“He not only brings home the local produce, he got a local to grow it for him directly outside his home. And yet he spent almost nothing for this luxury, and lifted not so much as a trowel to make it happen.

Welcome to “urban sharecropping,” the hippest, most hardcore new way to eat local. In the latest twist in the farm-to-table movement, homeowners who lack free time or gardening skills are teaming up with would-be farmers who lack backyards. Around the country, a new crop of match-makers are helping the two groups find each other and make arrangements that enable both sides to share resources and grow their own food.

Mr. Lucal’s tenant farmer Michaelynn Ryan is a mother of two and homeowner in the charming Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford. Though Ms. Ryan is a certified master gardener, the yard of her Craftsman house isn’t up to farming—it’s too small and shaded, Ms. Ryan says.”

The Journal reports numerous benefits to the locavore/sharecropper arrangement, turning “under-used, water-sucking lawns or weed-choked lots” into a local supply of inexpensive, fresh-picked produce.

“Tenant farmers” who are looking for land and “lazy locavores” who have yard space to spare can find match-ups at:

  • http://www.sharingbackyards.com/
  • http://www.urbangardenshare.org/
  • In Portland: http://www.yardsharing.org/

And if you have fruit trees or enjoy harvesting fruit, check out this OPB radio story on the Portland Fruit Tree Project, which allows fruit tree owners to register their trees for harvest by volunteers. Any unwanted fruit goes to a food bank.

Project founder Katy Kolker:

“We’re kind of hitting on a need in the community, both from tree owners who aren’t able to harvest their fruit, and see that fallen fruit is a nuisance as well as just a shame, and hundreds and hundreds of people who want to come out and help harvest with us.”

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