Not since the days of post-WWII victory gardens have so many people been motivated to supplement their grocery purchases with homegrown food. But this back-to-the-land revival is distinct from it predecessors in one important way: this time, we have the Internet. Tapping the power of networked devices and online mapping, a UK-based effort called Landshare is helping aspiring home gardeners connect with neighbors who have arable ground to spare.
The website, which recently launched, allows you to register as a Grower, Landowner, Land-spotter, or Facilitator (to help gardeners in need of assistance). You will soon be able to use a satellite map to scout the location of available land and find other gardeners in your community. This simple model would clearly be a great one to transfer to other cities and countries, and an excellent tool in places where empty lots lie dormant but the landlords are hard to find.
The initiative, like the best new social networking tools, is open and collaborative, and depends on the participation of the community to get going. I'd love to see an extension project tacked on to help harvest, distribute, and even cook the yields. Single parents, the elderly or disabled, and those holding down multiple jobs could add themselves to the map and receive fresh, locally-produced meals made my neighbors with extra time in the kitchen.
Image courtesy of 24by36