A unique and viable approach to establishing local food self-reliance and building stronger communities.

Overview and Benefits of the Sharing Gardens

The Sharing Garden is a unique community-garden model. Instead of many separate plots that are rented by individuals, the garden is one large plot, shared by all. All materials and labor are donated. Share-givers (volunteers) typically come one to two times per week (at scheduled times) to help in all aspects of farming from planting, through harvest. The food we grow is shared amongst those who have contributed in some way as well as with others who are in need in our community (through food pantries and other charities.) In 2018, as a fund-raiser for the Gardens, we started a CSA (community supported agriculture).

Amy and Cindy sort donated pots and trays.

Our project encourages community in a tangible way. Growing food together helps build relationships. The  Gardens have become a hub for distributing surplus building materials, garden equipment and supplies, canning jars, seeds and 'starts' and other related materials. Neighbors bring us their excess (or invite us to come pick it up) and we distribute it to those in need.  

Llyn preparing tomatoes for dehydrating.
The Sharing Gardens also has a strong educational component: share-givers learn about organic gardening, creating habitat for pollinators and other beneficial wildlife, saving “heirloom” seeds, pruning and other food-growing skills. We have also offered classes in cooking from scratch, using ingredients from the garden and encourage our share-givers and blog-readers to learn about canning and other food-storage techniques.
Every year we have been able to provide local food-pantries with a bounty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables from the Garden's surplus. We have given away  thousands of surplus 'starts' grown in our green-house to other sharing-type gardens, and food-pantry customers. We save over 85% of our own seed which is shared through seed-swaps, and to those who will use it for non-commercial growing.
OSU students re-potting 'starts'
In recent years we have partnered with Oregon State University's "service-learning" projects. Over the school year we host 50-60 students, for four-hours each (in groups of 4-6). These students help with all aspects of our project and learn about organic gardening, sustainable living and experience the joys of being in service to the community -- while receiving college credit.
Apples gleaned from our neighbors.
Currently our project gleans fruit from neighbors' trees and provides a drop-off site for gardeners/farmers to drop-off their surplus. This is then distributed to those in need. Since purchasing the land that hosts the Sharing Gardens (2014), we have planted dozens of fruit and nut trees and berry-bushes. As these mature, we are significantly adding to the quantities of fresh, organic produce we can share in our community.

We have a strong commitment to providing habitat to birds, small-mammals, insects and reptiles. Our style of gardening provides food and shelter for many of these critters who's habitats' are shrinking due to humans' lifestyles habits.

There are many benefits to growing food in the sharing model.

You can:

Grow the maximum amount of food: Sharing Gardens use the garden space more efficiently. Since we grow all the food together (instead of separate plots) there are fewer pathways between garden rows and all of the same kind of plants can be grown together making harvests more efficient too.
Delicata squash on harvest-day.
Water more efficiently: Plants can be grouped together with similar watering requirements.
Manage weeds and pests more easily: In a typical community garden setting, pesticide or herbicide applications in one plot can lead to a mass exodus of the offending bugs or weeds into adjacent plots. This can lead to a mini “arms race” between garden plots to bolster plants against pests. In a Sharing Garden, if pests/weeds appear, they can be managed selectively without the need for ever-accelerating methods of eradication.
Cindy, Rook and John have a "weeding party".
Save pure seeds: Many plants will cross with their neighbors, or hybridize. This means that, in a typical community garden neighboring gardeners would need to coordinate so their seed-stock doesn't cross with neighbors. In a Sharing Garden, you can plan your crops to keep strains from crossing and save enough seed to last for a few years. In years that you're not saving seed, it doesn't matter if you plant varieties that might 'cross' in neighboring rows.
Kidney beans grown for food and next year's seed.
Build community: Though some community gardens have regular work parties and social gatherings, the emphasis is on each gardener doing his own thing. In a Sharing Garden, the focus is on cooperation and sharing a common goal. Having a meaningful shared purpose builds great camaraderie.
Children enjoy eating the food they helped grow and harvest!
Share knowledge: Sharing Gardens become a place where gardeners can share their experience with each other. Participants are also learning about food preservation, gleaning and other ways of increasing local food security.
Participants learn about food-preservation.
Live more lightly on the planet: An additional benefit of this style of gardening is that we use salvaged material whenever possible. This keeps these materials out of burn-piles and the land-fill while providing new life for tools, leaves, grass clippings and building supplies. By encouraging people to share their surplus we build a tangible sense of community and networks of relationship that can be drawn from in times of crisis.
Ken and Chris create tomato-cages out of old fencing material.
Help local wildlife: Each of our gardens is designed to create habitat for pollinators and other beneficial wildlife as we believe it is important to "share" the earth beyond our human family.
A Sharing Garden creates a healthy environment for humans and non-humans alike!
We are pleased to see that other communities around the U.S. are beginning to adopt the Sharing Gardens model. It's an idea with so many benefits and very few "down sides". 

The Sharing Gardens is a registered charitable and tax-exempt organization. We exist entirely through donations. If you have benefited from our project or site please consider making a donation through PayPal (a receipt will automatically be provided for your tax records).

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