Land Share

If what’s on television is any indicator The Brits are clearly more progressive than us when it comes to gardening. Here in North America broadcasters like HGTV are still fumbling around in the dark trying to figure out the “garden” in Home and Garden, often deciding to just forgo the garden part entirely. Apparently, garden equals slabs of expensive stone pavers, a fancy seating area with loads of pillows that can’t be left outside or they’ll be moldy and gross before lunch, with some kind of no-work coniferous bush slapped in here and there.

Meanwhile, over in the UK they are making some relevant garden programming that people like me can actually almost, sort-of relate to. A few months back I was asked who I looked up to in British gardening and the first person that jumped to mind is Charlie Dimmock. I know she thinks too much has been made of the fact that she often didn’t wear a bra on Ground Force, but, HELLO, that would NEVER be allowed on TV here. It is a big deal! And a woman getting down and dirty in the rain and mud with the guys. Another big deal. It shouldn’t be, because after all, women go bra-less and work as hard as men in home gardens everywhere, everyday, all of the time. Sadly, this is not the reality North American television presents us with. Nope, instead we are force-fed a gaggle of women gardeners with perfect teeth who look like they smell fresher than roses, and are somehow able to maintain pristine French tip manicures while hosting a garden show.


Further case in point: this spin-off project, LandShare, from a food program called River Cottage. Landshare doesn’t seem to be working quite yet but will eventually hook up would-be gardeners looking for space to grow with people who have surplus space that they are willing to share. Because, OH MY GOD, there are people who want to grow but don’t have the space to do it in. Who knew?

We need something like this here. When you get on that please put me on the list as a grower looking for space.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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27 thoughts on “Land Share

  1. This is a very nice idea. I did some googling and found a link to a US/Canadian garden sharing site ( from a comment in a Huffington Post article on LandShare and LandFit (

    They only seem to cover a few places so far (Victoria, Vancouver, Portland, DC, Nanaimo, Cleveland), but it’s a start, no? I bet they could use help getting the word out.

  2. Ha! I, too, always wondered about the manicured “gardener”. Don’t forget their cute outfits and awesome hair. I sure don’t look like that.

    When it comes to television shows of the gardening variety – I tune into the Public Broadcasting Stations and subscribe to some podcasts where viewers have their mail/questions answered.

  3. Yes! It drives me crazy that there are no good, actual, gardening programs here! Right about the time I discovered Manic Organic, they seemingly pulled the plug. Here in ATL we have Walter Reeves, who is great and I love the regional tips, but his radio show is on Saturday morning and no podcast is recorded. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t gardeners most likely out in the GARDEN Saturday mornings and not hanging out with the AM radio? His TV show is on public tv here, but it has a shorter season than tomatoes in Alaska.

    Maybe we should start a campaign to the so-called “home and GARDEN” channels so they know we’d actually like to see some people get dirty?!

  4. Jen, I have one of those solar/crank-up radios that I take out in the garden with me, especially in late summer when Da Bears are playing…

    Gayla, I’d be happy for more programming on relevant stuff, like growing and keeping FOOD, not how to spend what I make in a year on some custom backyard edifice that I’ll never have time to enjoy because I’m too busy earning the green to pay for it anyway… HGTV is a huge disappointment.

  5. For one minute there, I was nearly disappointed with this post, until you mentioned those French manicures, sigh of relief! It isn’t just me after all!
    I actually am looking for somebody to share my land with but haven’t found anybody yet. It almost feels like looking for a room mate at this point but I am adamant that I will accomplish this goal this year.

  6. I too was looking for the “G” in HGTV. I finally found it. I have insomnia really bad and discovered it’s on every day at 4:00 AM. So who’s up at that hour besides me? I use to love that channel but not anymore. Would rather look at pictures online during the winter when I can’t be out gardening.

  7. Yup also the allotments have a 2-3 year waiting list in the UK!
    Happy to say I’ve got my parents back into wanting a veggie garden this year, now they just need the snow to thaw!

  8. I whole-heartedly agree! Those California garden makeovers are so rediculous. I want to see real gardens. Local would be nice too. We used to have a good local weekly garden show, but it got cancelled. By the way, just today I gardened bra-less. Don’t tell.

  9. This (great, timely) idea of shared growing spaces pops up more and more on blogs throughout. I’m a garden designer-landscaper-writer-photographer based in Vancouver, BC, and I have been succesfully using other people’s yards (plus a large toolshed!) for close to one year, and to no fee. My third one is being negotiated; I do have a basic written agreement with the owners. How did I find them? I plastered busy streets with a simple ad, adding those little ‘tearable’ tabs at the base. It was almost easy. I grow ornementals and hopefully veggies this year. I’m in!

  10. Gayla,
    I watch so much British television that I talk with a British accent inside my head!!! I loved the River cottage shows – I thought I was the only one! (He’s got a great children’s cookbook that carries on with the River Cottage theme.) I also loved the Jamie at home series on Food Network. At least we were able to see gratuitous shots of the garden in between the cooking segments! But you’re absolutely right about HGTV – I never really took notice before…too busy watching BBC Canada!

  11. You know Gayla, this lack of garden in HGTV is not a anomaly, I’ve noticed other channels are, in my opinion, loosing their focus. This includes, Food Network and the likes of TLC. When programs start relying on Sandra Dee wannabes, reality shows to find the next “start” (get real, those worthy of being the stars are out getting dirty and learning not talking about it in a 30 minute segment) and for going those that have years of expertise for someone who can eat on less than $40 a day (no offense, but I can do that too without enlisting the aid of a restaurant at every meal).

    Now that I do like the show Gardening by the Yard on HGTV. The host is honest and up front about it being a show he’s not going to get dirty, but he does off the cameras. He’s honest about what he does and doesn’t do in his yard (like tend the massive lawn. He’s an advocate of native, but makes no bones about his love for some exotics. He’s got some good information to hand out. It’s not perfect, but it’s closer than most any other I’ve seen there.

    Jen, Manic Organic is one of my favorites. I find the short series occassionally aired on Discovery Channel I think it is here in America occasionally and record it every time. The lack of a continues series is probably has more to do with the producer was the gardener himself, Antony John. With a large track of land to see to, I’m sure he’s got more important matters tend to than shooting and reshooting the perfect 30 minute segment. None-theless, I do love his shows.

    You might look to see if you can find some “At Home with Jamie Oliver”. Yeah he’s a chef and I did see this on FoodTV, but he’s got a massive garden. Yeah, yeah, he’s got a gardener to help him tend, but this is a man that is known for being rustic and messy. So while his focus is cooking, he goes straight from his garden to his kitchen, do help tend the gardens, grows organically, talks about his garden and has some very good dishes in the end.

    I like the idea of landshare. However, I can’t even find any community gardens down here. Or when I do, they are usually in it jaded into thinking they can make “millions” and lock the gates after a few short months. I guess they miss the boat on what a community garden is all about.

    Oh well, I can keep looking.

  12. I need to investigate this Landshare thing…I have acres of land that are basically at my disposal here in Jacksonville and have no idea how to start on it as a beginner…

  13. There’s actually a local ground here working on a land share program for our area since there’s a LOT of houses with a lot of land, but of course, everybody doesn’t feel like cultivating that much land.

    I’ll be really interested to see how it progresses, I do believe it’s their first year actually trying to start it.

    Unfortunately of course I can’t find any information on the net about it around me to share a link with you, but if I come across something online (that isn’t in the local paper with no website) I’ll pass it along to you. I thought about signing up myself but it seemed greedy since I actually have a third of an acre to myself that I get to garden while there are people around here without that much who really want the space.

  14. I haven’t been by for a visit in weeks…but found it exciting that we are a little bit on the same wavelength (I posted about landshare — as in please someone set that up here- a few days ago too. My husband and I both have little crushes on Hugh FW. So we are always eager to know what he is up to.
    Anyway, I have lots of land…plenty of room for my garden and some others…if anyone is interested…I am in Harvard, MA…find me via my blog.

  15. Hiya Gayla
    We brits also have a new lady on the gardening block – Alys Folwer. She has messed up my chances of being a gardening type on the telly caled Alice (she got there first!) – but non the less not a manicure in sight and she encourages skip raiding. A woman after my own heart!

    Love your work Lady G, may your sprouts be bountiful!
    X Alice Green

  16. Here in San Francisco we have a decent show called “Henry’s Garden.” Henry’s a local who doesn’t have a green thumb, but loves to garden anyway, so he keeps it funny. Henry’s even gotten into orchids a bit, so occasionally I get to see info about care of orchids on TV. But I agree that HGTV is distinctly lacking, with the sole exception of Gardening by the Yard.

  17. Just discovered your blog. Good (or bad?) to see I have a place to commiserate this lack of TV programming. Thanks, Gayla, for providing a wealth of information here.

  18. For the Anglophile gardeners amongst you, why not try out Gardeners’ Question Time (GQT) – a radio show that you can listen to online at – it might not have huge regional significance to you, but it is what I listen to when I want to feel at peace with the world! They may or may not wear bras, but it’s awfully difficult to tell on radio…

  19. Okay…I was greatly disappointed when Manic Organic just fell off the face of the earth…And completely agree with the “Barbie gardens” shows on HGTV. Thank you all so much for the shows…im gonna try to tivo em…Hopefully I will have something to watch till I can stick something in the ground. Again, Thanks!!!

  20. For those of you interested in Landshare, the website is only in a first phase of taking registrations. But the next phase, which will allow people to actually start to access land and would-be growers, will be coming in the next few weeks.

  21. I’m missing Recreating Eden (Vision TV) for my gardening therapy fix. Anybody know what happened to it?

  22. I’m an American transplant to the UK and there’s a great programme here called ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’. I am sorry for my homeland that we don’t seem to have anything like it. I think it is partly down to the fact that while we have more farmland in the USA it’s mostly agri-businesses who occupy it, while in the UK there are lots of hard-core gardeners making the most of plots most folks Stateside would consider, erm, bijou at best.

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