Platform connects garden owners with would-be vegetable growers

In London, finding a space to grow food is almost as hard as finding an affordable place to live. Allotments — those small rented gardens not attached to a home — have long waiting lists that only grew longer as people sought out green spaces during lockdowns. Which is why Belfast native Conor Gallagher decided to tap into another source: homeowners willing to rent out (part of) their garden.

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Like an Airbnb for vegetable patches, London-based AllotMe makes it easier for the average person to access space for growing their own fruit and vegetables. Homeowners set a fee of at least GBP 5 per month, of which AllotMe takes a small cut. As Gallagher pointed out in an interview with BBC Radio Ulster, similar initiatives were launched in the past but fizzled out because they lacked funding to scale up and meet demand, and to keep a platform running.

Meanwhile, in South Los Angeles, Crop Swap LA is taking a different approach to growing food in private gardens. The social enterprise opened its first microfarm in April, and has plans to add many more. Each will grow enough vegetables to feed 50 families who subscribe to a USD 36/week box. As reported by Fast Company, the plan is to use front yards in LA neighborhoods without easy access to large supermarkets. In return, homeowners will receive a share of produce and profits.

Both concepts are straightforward, yet tap into powerful trends as consumers seek out local food and a more sustainable lifestyle, embrace gardening as a promoter of mental and physical health, and readily share resources with strangers.

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