‘Yard-sharing’ seeks to turn lawns into gardens

April 27, 2012
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In an effort to turn Jamaica Plain’s underused lawns into gardens, the JP New Economy Transition (JP NET) is supporting a new program called “yard-sharing.”

The mechanics are simple: those with underused yards and lawns welcome green-thumbed neighbors to create gardens for them. The costs and the yard’s yield are split between them. JP NET just matches up yard partners.

“What’s the point of a lawn in full sun? It could be a wonderful vegetable garden,” yard-sharer Andrée Zaleska said. “There’s always people out there looking for gardening space. Gardening is very trendy right now and it’s a great passion for people.”

“Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition is all about neighbors coming up with ideas and running with them, so we are excited to be supporting this throughout JP,” said JP NET spokesperson Orion Kriegman. “Yard sharing is good because neighbors meet each other, and gardeners make great neighbors. Gardeners are invested in their communities.”

A small trial program is underway at JP’s Green House on Bourne Street, owned by Zaleska. It has been so successful that she is now working on partnering neighbors all over JP, as part of JP NET’s initiative.

When Kelly Cannon moved into her apartment in a triple-decker with a tiny yard, the avid gardener applied for space—still not available— at a community garden. Meanwhile, she’s been working in Zaleska’s yard. They’re both very happy with the arrangement.

“[Cannon] loves to garden, but her yard has a lot of shade. She and her kid come over and garden in our plot,” Zaleska said. “The underlying passion here is to get urban land into use. There’s a lot of underused urban land. And it gets people connected.”

“I get to grow the things I like and someone with the yard gets to have their yard grown, without having to do all the work,” Cannon said. “Plus, after planning gardens in a number of rentals I’ve since moved from, gardening in someone’s yard, even after I’ve moved on, that work that I put in will stay with someone I know, respect, and who will keep it going and appreciate it.”

People interested in finding a yard partner can sign up on JP NET’s website. Zaleska tries to find matches within a week, she said.

“The best partners are people who can walk to each other’s houses,” she said. “And there’s a lot of good info on how to work small plots out there now.”

Applications are available at jptransition.org/jp-yard-sharing.