Hello, Agrarians! I thought I’d take a moment to share Rosemary’s story of trying to find some garden space as a new Bay Area transplant. Stories like these (and they are plentiful!) are how I know we’re on the right track.
When I first moved to the Bay Area, I started looking around for opportunities to start gardening right away. The first thing I found was that the community gardens in easy reach of my place were all on long-term wait lists for available space. I was living at the time in a small shared apartment with a dog yard out back, so I made plans with my roommate to build a pair of raised beds, which was just enough to start growing some tomato plants and a few mixed vegetables. This was a great little space, enough to satisfy me for a few months. But my past experience in spontaneous garden acquisition (another story) gave me lots of optimism about my chances of finding someone to partner with in a larger project, so I started hunting.
I spent some more time scouting local vegetable gardening groups (nonprofits, community gardening and the like), but gradually realized that what I wanted was a significant piece of land to transform myself. By chance, some friends were restructuring their back yard and putting in a few garden beds, so I started helping them with this project. (Eventually, I even moved in with them, the easier to manage the garden.) At the same time, I was scouring Google Maps in search of unused garden spaces and sending out emails to landowners, pitching garden ideas to strangers. I had a few possible hits, but making arrangements that suited all parties was challenging.
Then I had a lucky break: another friend purchased a house with a large backyard. With very little convincing, I convinced him to “give” me about half the space for vegetable production. After only a year and a half in the East Bay, I finally had a sizeable space to work with. It’s been about two years since we started, and what a ride it’s been!… but I have plenty of time to show off what we’ve done with it later.
For the last 6 years, I’ve been putting urban gardens on other peoples’ property (with their consent, naturally). Each opportunity has occurred naturally, as a result of talking with other people who love gardens, but maybe don’t have the time or energy to maintain their own. I know there are a lot of possible gardens out there languishing as lawns for want of the right gardener, but making that match takes a lot of work! I hope that Agrarify will be able to make it easier for aspiring gardeners to find their match and start getting their hands dirty.
Since beginning work on Agrarify, I’ve gotten a hugely positive response from everyone I’ve told about it. It seems like, especially in the Bay Area, everyone is either interested in gardening or knows someone who is — not much of a stretch, considering the fresh food culture we enjoy here. All we have to do is make it easier for people. I’m excited to see where this goes.