So many tomatoes, so little time. It was a surplus of hourglass-shaped San Marzano tomatoes growing in my backyard, more than my family could eat but less than would merit an all-day canning session, that convinced me to share my garden next growing season.
I got the idea from the community board at my local library. There was a flyer posted by The Stop Community Food Centre, a Toronto-based non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to healthy food for everyone, but particularly those in need.
The flyer promoted a garden-sharing program, called Yes In My Backyard, or YIMBY. The premise: The Stop matches a gardenless-but-keen-to-grow member of the community to a garden owner, they share the harvest and donate any surplus to The Stop. How much or little the garden owner wants to actively garden is up to him or her.
This setup suits me. Though I love to carefully select organic seeds and seedlings from Urban Harvest and the amazing Fiesta Farms nursery each spring, now that I have a small child I have less time to weed and water and to do other tasks that a bountiful vegetable garden endlessly requires. Why not share the duties?
I filled out a questionnaire, and The Stop matched me to a delightful art school student who's itching to start gardening. It's too soon to tell if we'll hit it off garden-wise, but I'm pleased to mentor a beginner gardener and to share homegrown produce with the needy.
How to share your garden
If garden sharing sounds like something you would like to do, here's how to get started and some pointers to keep in mind. Sharing surplus produce with your community isn't a requisite, but it's very much in keeping with the unspoken code of generosity that most backyard vegetable gardeners adhere to. Plus, it just feels good when hard-won peas, tomatoes and peppers go to a good home before they go bad.
- Check Backyardgardens.com to see if there is an existing backyard garden program in your area. Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver, Thunder Bay, Nanaimo and Kingston are just a few of the Canadian communities that have established programs.