Yardsharing is Catching On!

The time is certainly ripe for yardsharing and produce swaps – growing numbers of people are seeking out ways to connect with local food and with their neighbors, and the media is taking note. Right after posting our own run-down of yardsharing resources here on the Slow Food PDX blog, the Oregonian ran an article on local garden collectives the very next day! Given the lengthy waiting lists for plots in the city’s community garden program, many Portlanders are informally partnering with their neighbors to till their yards and harvest their produce. Aside from mentions of the Tin Shed Cafe’s Urban Farm Collective, the Veggie Trader website, and Yardsharing.org, the Oregonian article also profiled a few individual Portlanders who are sharing their resources with their immediate neighborhoods. A short video clip with the article features one well-spoken gardener who explains the benefits of her .

Today in the New York Times, the consistently excellent Kim Severson spotlighted the modern gleaners and produce traders emerging around the country. It’s a practice with a long heritage, but one that has benefitted from the social networks of the internet:

Supporters of this movement hold two basic principles. One, it’s a shame to let fruit go to waste. And two, neighborhood fruit tastes best when it’s free.

“There have always been people harvesting fallen fruit,” Ms. Wadud said, “but there’s a whole new counterculture about gathering and eating public fruit. This tremendous resource is growing everywhere if people just start looking around.”

Severson shares the stories of an Oakland fruit forager, a Los Angeles actress who created a neighborhood co-operative, and a chef who admits to covetously sneaking ingredients from yards on the way to her restaurant. Excitingly, the article also acknowledges the great work being done by Katy Kolker of our very own Portland Fruit Tree Project. As she humorously explains the amazing urban food resources all around us, Kolker perfectly captures the hopeful spirit that yardsharing and produce gleaning represent:

“A family can only really eat 20 pounds of fresh apples or so before they cry uncle,” Ms. Kolker said. “A fruit tree is really made for sharing with your neighborhood.”

To watch a short profile of Kolker and her Fruit Tree Project, check out this clip from the great, locally-produced webcast series, Cooking Up a Story:

Thanks for sharing