May 23, 2007

Making My Backyard a Collective Garden?

Before I approach my housemate w/ this thought, I'll pose it here. I have backyard with sun in San Francisco. Seriously, it's a commodity. Last year Blake (that's my best friend/housemate) and I took all of the sinks, toilets, roofing materials, doors, wood, tile, and such out through our evicted neighbors street access after 2 years of renting this place. So now we REALLY have a backyard. It isn't just a tetanus hazard these days.

But I housesit 10-14 days per month and Blake just ain't the most outdoorsy. So to get the most utility of the space, I'd like to communalize it. Maybe I'm nuts. See this requires me giving a house key to anyone who wants to participate as we have no street access. But it seems like a shame that we're not actively enjoying this space unless we're painting anti-war banners or feeding feral cats. We have 7 fruit trees (which we never knew until we got rid of the dumptruck full of debris). We can't even eat all of the plums, persimons, and pears.

So yeah, free bike parking in my garage for green thumb folks who want to turn the rest of our backyard into a native plant garden! I can score the plants from local native plant gurus, but I need help caring for them since I'm only around half the time. Must be tolerant of feral cats and willing to kill a vibrant cotoneaster.


Steven said...

Since you have sun, why don't you plant a vegetable garden? It doesn't have to be communal. It would be fine for the periods of time you're away. (Maybe you can talk your roommate into doing a little weeding, but even if s/he doesn't want to, it would survive.)

We have a small (about 10x15) front yard garden here in Austin, and it takes some work to get it all established, but there's a long period of time when you just kind of watch it grow. Saves money on groceries, and you can't eat much more local than from your own yard.

nm said...

Do you own or rent?

If you own and trust people to not destroy your house and feel like you can just give anyone a key, go for it.

If you rent, don't even think of it.

I'm all for communal gardens, that is what openspace programs and ppatches are about.


Anonymous said...

Rachael! You don't know me but I've heard about you and the rest of the compactors. I would really like to showcase all of the bay area compactors in my documentary on Thrift Town this July. I think you can help me through interviewing you guys to show the importance of the recycle and reuse way of life. Please email me at!!!

Wendy said...

Hmm?? Maybe instead of planting a communal garden that might require tending, you might consider planting a edible perennial garden. Sounds like you already have a good start with the fruit trees. You could add to that some nut trees, and a few ground cover plants, like berries. Once they're established, most perennials only need a minimum of care.

Anonymous said...

Seems strange to me. I'm from Kansas and we would never let a stranger trapse through our house to care for a communal garden. We have nothing but space, even in our larger cities to allow access to our backyards via alleyways or main streets. Pretty cool and progressive of you to allow others who share your zest for the great outdoors to use your backyard.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Steven's excellent idea: a vegetable garden would be a great use of the space. You could share the fruits (sorry) of your labor with friends who appreciate super-locally grown food.

And, to echo NM's comment: if you rent, an open-door policy exposes you to way, way too many liability issues. Nice idea in the abstract, but best to leave it there.