[Sharing is] the most universal form of human
economic behavior, distinct from and more
fundamental than reciprocity. . . . Sharing has
probably been the most basic form of economic
distribution in hominid societies for several
hundred thousand years. (Price 1975)

I have recently embarked on a journey to get me closer to my dream of working in sustainable horticulture. As a start I have for many years been trying to grow edibles in my garden and the surrounding area. I have three neighbours gardens – they have been very kind – and a social housing plot that I have dabbled with this summer. Now I am about to embark on an Msc is sustainable horticulture and food production at Schumacher college in Totnes. This will hopefully give me the time and the knowledge I need to understand how we propose to feed ourselves in a nation with a broken agriculture system, growing obesity problem, falling health quality, and a growing disconnection with food production, not to mention a population that is gravitating towards cites – 51% of the global population is now city dwelling, the fist time cities populations have out numbered countryside dwellers – that is increasingly isolated. Lonliness is as damaging to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and has a destructive effect on quality of life – http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/

My hope is that I can couple my growing knowledge with my experience in social and digital media – having worked at Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay and Tesco – and build a digital solution that will connect people with growing space with the people who have time and knowledge to grow edible food. There are solutions out there like http://www.landshare.net, transition towns, the big dig, but one look at the landshare website will tell you that people don’t really do anything with it, they may have logged in and uploaded their thoughts on land, skills or desires, but then nothing! Why is there a lack of continuity and content? If you look at a site like http://www.airbnb.com or look at Rachel Botsman and her views on collaborative consumption.

You’ll start to see the same differences I did. On airbnb, you are required to fulfil a thorough profile linked to an official document – Passport etc – and with lots of other details too. This gives people a sense of who you are. Then once you start using the site you are reviewed, whether you are a host or visitor. This again builds trust. This is exactly what Rachel indicates enables technology to turn us from consumption and ownership society to consumption and sharing – ‘sharing is to ownership what the ipod was to the 8track’ [CD?] -http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/magazine/08Zipcar-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 If only landshare could build their site like this?

Now back to what I really want to do: I feel the big issues with sharing gardens and unused land is a the lack of trust – profiles and reviews will get round this – and then the nuts and bolts of skills, products, materials.

I have asked myself the questions below many times over the last couple of years and if we can iron these out we will have a system that may help people eat better, survive better in harsh times, and socially develop.

  • What issues does growing locally overcome?
  • How do you bring people with land and growers together in a mutually beneficial way?
  • How do you keep growing relationships?
  • How can trust be given from the outset?
  • How do we build trust?
  • What will you grow? Who gets to eat the vegetables?
  • Who will care for the garden when you are away?
  • What happens if the garden is neglected?
  • Where will gardening supplies be stored?
  • Who pays for the water?

On top of these questions we need to embrace new ways of gardening with new edibles – new to the UK and to most gardeners, but of course are nothing new as they have been around far longer than any Human and most animals. The new way of gardening can be bought to magnificent focus by studying Martin Crawfords approach and looking into his agrofostery website.