Sharing the Harvest
Yesterday, I enjoyed a couple of sweet and tangy Lemon Boy tomatoes from my neighbor’s garden. A few days earlier, I noticed that they had some large, green Big Boys, which looked perfect for frying, so I picked a few, and in anticipation of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance‘s upcoming pie baking contest, I also grabbed several of their ripe peaches. I take food from their backyard often.
Actually, we have created our own little CSA. Initially by default, and now with a more concerted effort, we have begun growing various fruits and vegetables and sharing our harvest. We have been neighbors for nearly 10 years and have been steadily increasing the amount of space that we devote to gardening each year.
Currently, they are growing various heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, hot peppers, cucumbers, squash, and melons, while we are growing San Marzano tomatoes, numerous herbs, strawberries, onions, Swiss chard, eggplant, and sweet peppers. We are also sharing peaches, pears, plums, and grapes from our mature trees and vines. As the seasons change, we will continue to alternate and grow various crops to increase the variety available to each of us. We are considering planting companion apple trees, such as Gala and Granny Smith, this autumn.
With rising food prices and limited access to land in metro areas, sharing backyards makes great sense. By sharing backyard space, neighbors can develop stronger bonds, cultivate a deeper appreciation for their land and the environment, develop better eating habits, and have increased access to a variety of fresh, local, and seasonal foods at a reduced price.
If sharing garden space with your neighbor sounds like a good idea, here are a few considerations:
1. Legal Issues: Before commencing a garden share project, review the rules of the governing bodies in your area, such as the deed restrictions of your homeowners’ association, to make sure you remain within the guidelines.
2. Safety and Privacy: Discuss who can enter the garden, when the garden can be accessed, what areas of the garden can be accessed, how the garden will be secured, and how to contact each other in the event of an emergency.
3. Tools: Discuss what tools are needed, if tools will be shared, and where the tools will be stored.
4. Soil: Discuss the types of soil and amendments that can be used and how soil expenses will be allocated.
5. Seeds and Transplants: Discuss what will be grown, who will grow what, and how expenses will be allocated.
6. Water: Discuss who will do the watering and when.
7. Harvesting: Discuss who will do the harvesting and how the harvest will be allocated.