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Where Can I Garden?

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I’m a big fan of John Michael Greer’s blog, The Archdruid Report.  It’s a peak oil blog, in which he encourages everyone to do some vegetable gardening.  One of the comments on the blog was from someone who said that they rented an apartment and therefore had no land on which to garden.

Which reminded me of Carol Deppe’s comment in The Resilient Gardener, “Owning good gardening land is a great joy… I hope to own some myself one of these days.”  This is from a woman who is known as a master vegetable grower and plant breeder and yet for most of her career never owned any land.  Instead, she rented land or arranged a work-share agreement with someone who did own land.

Oftentimes, farmers, especially retired farmers, are willing to lease their land for a reasonable fee in order to retain the favorable tax rates on agricultural land.  If you live near good farmland, check into this option.

Another possibility is finding a neighbor who used to garden, but no longer has the time or energy to do so.  Offer to do all of the work of planting a garden in return for the owner letting you use her property and then split the harvest.

In both cases, you’ll want to write up a simple agreement where both parties promise not to sue each other.

There are two properties in my neighborhood with double lots that I gaze on longingly whenever I walk past them.  The double lot means lots of sunny space, which is at a premium in the city.  One of these days, I’m going to knock on the door and ask whether they’d like to be able to walk outside and pick a juicy ripe tomato from their garden!

As I mentioned last month, I’ve expanded my garden to the front yard, where there’s more sun.  So far, I haven’t been hounded by the vegetable police.  If a code enforcement officer gives me trouble, I plan to insist that it’s an ornamental garden that happens to have a few edible plants and then cite the examples of dandelion greens and rose hips.  I always interplant flowers and vegetables to make this argument more plausible (and because I like flowers).

If you’re wondering why anyone would care where you plant vegetables, you may be surprised someday to discover that your town or neighborhood association prohibits vegetable gardens in the front yard.  Some towns or neighborhood associations are more enlightened than others.  I’m still waiting to see in which category Schenectady falls.

The most familiar option, if you find yourself without gardening space, is a community garden.  Check around to see whether your town has a community garden or check Capital District Community Gardens’ website (http://www.cdcg.org/).  Even if they don’t have an open plot now, you may be able to get on the waiting list.

Community gardens kehoe

And if there isn’t a community garden nearby, think about starting one.  I helped start a community garden at my synagogue last year, which was a great experience- but more about that next month!

In the meantime, be creative when thinking about gardening.  There are a lot of possibilities out there!

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