We were excited to launch the Young Agrarians U-Map in 2013 as a “one-stop” resource to new farmers to help them find everything from training and jobs, to business planning resources, to suppliers and market opportunities. When we launched the B.C. Land Matching Program in 2016, we upgraded our U-Map so that farmland owners and farmers seeking land could list their detailed visions and needs – anyone across Canada can use the land listings to list or find land.
Now, in the wake of COVID-19, we’re seeing a huge growth in people’s desire to grow food for themselves and their families. (And while we think COVID-19 sucks, we think gardening is awesome – after all, it’s a gateway to farming!) Not everyone with green dreams is lucky enough to have access to garden space – but our U-Map can help. We’ve just added a brand new “Garden Share” section to the U-Map where people can list their available outdoor space online, and interested local gardeners can get in touch.
If you’ve got a garden or lawn area that you’d like to make available to someone in your community, the YA U-Map Garden Share option is the perfect place to list it! Benefits to you can include a share of the produce, enjoying seeing your land producing food, reduced yard maintenance, and new friendships.
HOW IT WORKS
For homeowners wanting to post your Garden Share opportunity:
- Visit the U-Map and click “Submit a Listing” at the bottom right of the screen.
- You’ll be asked to create an account – we recommend this option to make it easier for you to manage your listing.
- On the next screen, select the “Garden Share” option under LAND. The “Garden Share” option is intended specifically for homeowners wanting to share their green space with someone gardening to produce food for themselves and their family. If you have a land opportunity that would be suitable for someone running a farm business, whether urban or rural, please use the “Land Listing” option – and reach out to a land matcher via email@example.com.
- Next, you’ll be asked to choose a title for your listing, and provide a description. Please share any details you think will be relevant, such as the size of the area available, what kind of sun exposure the area gets, current state, such as whether it’s a lawn or already cultivated, and any other info.
- The final step is adding your location so that people local to you can find your opportunity. If you enter your address, the map pin will show the exact location – if you’d rather keep your address hidden, you can choose to enter just your city. In this case, it would be a good idea to mention the neighbourhood in your description and indicate that you’ll provide more location info if people contact you directly. Most gardeners are looking for something close by to their homes. You can also choose to make your contact information, such as email and phone number, public, or to use the U-Map Messaging Service to mask your contact info.
- You can also add a photo to your listing, which is a great way to give potential gardeners a visual understanding of what you’re offering.
- You’ll get a confirmation email when you submit your listing, and another email once our team approves your listing.
For gardeners wanting to find a Garden Share opportunity:
- Visit the U-Map and select “Land” then click “Garden Share” from the dropdown menu.
- From there, you’ll be taken to the map and you’ll see available Garden Share listings in your area.
- Browse the listings, reading descriptions to ensure the details would be a match for your needs.
- Then, use the U-Map Messaging Service to contact the person offering the Garden Share. Please include info about yourself and your vision/needs for your garden project in your message.
- If the person offering the Garden Share is interested, they’ll reply to you and you can start a conversation!
*Please note: Young Agrarians is NOT able to vet Garden Share opportunities, or potential gardeners. Our U-Map has a messaging service similar to craigslist, where potential gardeners can send an email to you while masking both their contact info and yours. Both parties should take steps to vet Garden Share connections, ensure it will be a good fit, and have detailed communication about the expectations and responsibilities on both sides.
Some topics to discuss are:
- Term: How long will the garden space be available? One year? A trial basis and then a longer term commitment?
- Access: When is the property accessible to the gardener? What areas are off limits? Does the homeowner have pets or children? How will the garden be protected from damage?
- Tools: Can the gardener use the homeowner’s gardening tools? Vice versa? Where will tools be stored?
- Upkeep: What expectations does the homeowner have about maintaining the yard? What do both parties understand words like “tidy” and “well-kept” to mean? If the gardener has photos of previous gardens, that will be a big help!
- Produce sharing: What benefits does the homeowner get? How will produce be split? Who is responsible for harvesting? Are there particular crops the homeowner would be especially keen to see planted?
- Water: Is there a water source? Are there any conditions or cost to use the water?
Garden care: What happens if the gardener can’t make it to the property for a period of time? Can they send someone else to water, or would the homeowner take that on?
- Communication: How will you communicate with each other? How will you work together to solve interpersonal conflict or logistical problems that arise?
Written Agreement: Documenting your agreement, even in a simple letter, is a great idea to ensure you’re on the same page – and that you can stay on the same page!
- The Young Agrarians Land Access Guide has a checklist with many more questions designed for farm leases – while they won’t all apply to Garden Shares, check out the guide and get some ideas!
***Food production is an essential service, even – and especially – during times like these. That said, many governments are asking people to stay home unless necessary and to observe social/physical distancing. Please observe physical distancing measures currently in place for COVID-19. If you are currently looking for garden share arrangements, we strongly recommend that the parties talk by phone to outline how you will maintain physical distancing and appropriate sanitizing procedures before any property visits happen, or before starting the garden project.***
The B.C. Land Matching Program connects farmland owners with farmers who are starting or growing their farm businesses, and helps parties develop agreements. If you’re in B.C. and are seeking land for a farm business, or have farmland to offer to someone running a farm business, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in land matching in Alberta, please contact email@example.com.
There are tons of local organizations working to support home growers and community food systems both urban and rural. Lots of them are on the U-Map or listed on our Network page – be sure to check out what’s happening in your area. From online workshops to virtual tours to seed and seedling sharing, there’s an amazing food community sending up shoots!
All photos by Sara Dent