Monday, March 29, 2010

Twin Cities Sharing Yards and Resources at

Are you a Twin Cities gardener looking for a space to garden?
Do you have space in your yard that could be used for a garden?
Did you make too much compost? Do you have extra mulch?
Do you have gardening tools that you could share?

Yards to Gardens ( is a new website designed to connect eager gardeners with available space. The website was launched in July, 2009. This year, fueled by the unprecedented growth of interest in home and community gardening, Yards to Gardens is reaching critical mass in the Twin Cities, MN and beginning to catch on in other US cities.

"It's a simple concept," states Jesse Eustis, Y2G co-founder and local Minneapolis gardener. "Say you have some extra space in your yard but no time for gardening, you can go to the website and in just a few seconds you can post your yard as a resource for someone to garden. Or say you'd like to be gardening in your neighborhood but you don't have a yard, just go to the website and see if there are any available yards in your area, or post yourself as a gardener."

As of March 18th, Yards to Gardens has launched an expanded version of their website which includes new listing categories. In addition to 'Yard' and 'Gardener', you can now post and search for 'Organic Matter' (compost, mulch, wood chips, etc.) and 'Tools & Stuff'. These new categories make Y2G a resource for sharing and finding all things gardening-related.

The problem is a lack of space for gardening in urban areas. The National Gardening Association estimated a rise in the number of new gardens to seven million in 2009, an increase of 19% over the previous year. Here in the Twin Cities there are over 240 community gardens; however most are already full this season and the waiting lists continue to grow. Gardening Matters, a Twin Cities-based organization that supports community gardens, has partnered with Yards to Gardens to help deal with the rise in demand. This year they have begun referring individuals to the new Y2G website to find space.

The Yards to Gardens website, created by three Minneapolis gardening enthusiasts, grew out of the observation that while our food system ships food an average of 1500 miles from the farm to fork, at the same time we use the vast majority of our cultivatable urban land to grow grass. "If you consider this and the fact that many urban would-be-gardeners can't find space to garden, it's just a matter of connecting the dots," exclaimed Eustis.

Last year the City of Minneapolis also stepped in to support Yards to Gardens, awarding Y2G a Climate Change micro-grant as part of the City's effort to help local neighborhoods and organizations fund creative ways to engage residents in fighting global warming. Y2G may pursue other grant and sponsorship opportunities, but for the time being it is a labor of love. Jonas Goslow, Y2G co-founder and also a Guthrie Theater actor states, "We've invested a lot into this, not just for the love of gardening but because of the way this tool can help build community relationships."

Over the coming year, the Yards to Gardens team plans to promote the site by building partnerships with related organizations, gov't agencies and businesses. Other additions to the website are likely, such as a category for sharing fruit and vegetable surplus. Goslow explains, "Our eventual goal is to have other US cities use Yards to Gardens as a resource for neighbors to connect and share with one another through the act of gardening."

Jesse Eustis
2319 1st Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

[where: Sustainable Food, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota]

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