Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

Transition Culture has moved

I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

16 Oct 2008

The Totnes Garden Share Scheme on the BBC

Here in Totnes, one of the projects we are involved in that is really motoring along, and is also generating a lot of interest, is the Garden Share scheme.  The idea is simple.  There are many older or busier people who have gardens they struggle to look after but which they like to see being used productively, and there are many younger and more able people who would like to grow food, but have no access to land.  In effect, Garden Share acts as a dating agency, matching the two together. 

In recent weeks it has generated a lot of press coverage, including a visit from Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall to film a part of his latest series, and a very good piece on BBC News, which you can see here (unfortunately the BBC don’t enable the embedding of their videos elsewhere).  To begin with we had more gardens than gardeners, prompting fears that perhaps more people talked about wanting to garden than were actually willing to get the fork out and get on with it.  In recent weeks however, this has flipped, and now more and more gardeners are coming forward.  Rather than waiting for allotments to be forthcoming, Garden Share is a great way of unlocking land for growers, especially when it is accompanied by the gardening training we are currently runnning.  Garden Share is run by TTT with support from South Devon Community Supported Farming.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Graham Burnett
16 Oct 7:14pm

Hi Rob, we are trialling a ‘garden share’ project here in Westcliff, synchronistically (is that a real word??) the idea came up for discussion at a Transition Town Westcliff meeting after a member expressed their frustrations at having been on the local allotment waiting list for over a year just at the same time as my mum announced she was intending to get the garden in her shared household paved over as nbody can be bothered to look after it! So far all is working out well and we intend to post more on our blog soon (in the meantime theres some pics on our flickr site here ), however before ‘going live’ and announcing this project too far and wide we wanted to cautiously explore the subject, and what appears to be the potential for legal and ethical minefields (or have I just worked for Social Services for too long???), eg sitautions where less scrupulous persons might take advantage of the scheme in order to prey upon vulnerable older people, or, on the other side of the coin, the garden-provider might get a nice free garden make-over before telling the gardener “thanks very much but i don’t want you round any more”. I’d be interested in finding out how Totness are addressing such concerns, esp regarding questions such as contracts and who is accountable if things DO go tits-up…

Sorry if I sound negative or like some kind of doom-sayer, I’m not, I really want the project to be a success, but as a permaculturist I learned its better to make your mistakes on paper (or ear of others experiences at least) before making a ‘type 1 error’, especially if the project moves beyond relatively small circles where principles of trust can operate well to something that is more mainstream and percieved as a realistic and wider alternative to allotment waiting lists.

Graham Burnett
16 Oct 7:22pm

Jason Cole
16 Oct 10:57pm

Great stuff!

17 Oct 4:50pm

I recall similiar schemes in York and Kent in the late 70’s.

With reference to Graham’s concerns, one elderly garden owner gave his gardener notice to quit after he looked out of the upstairs window and identified the crop growing at the bottom of the garden. It was not hemp and the attitude was much stricter then.

However, I think that when the new ISA rules come in, it will be a lot easier to accept people because they will have a life-long tranfersable clearance to be on contact with vulnerable people.

On a brighter note, are you aware of this project?

nadia hillman
20 Oct 2:23pm

graham i think your concerns are founded and i too have plans to add this sort of relationship building into what GROFUN already does in Bristol around collective growing and sharing of food. accessibility can also be an issue with this.
rob, is there someone we can talk to or e mail with these queries or will there be a ‘how to’ guide written some time in the future?

hoon seong teo
20 Oct 9:31pm

There is something very similar that’s been established in Portland Oregon. It’s quite a success. I think the urban sharecroppers there run it as a viable buisness, though.

[…] a garden share scheme in Farnham. You may already know that this scheme was launched in Totnes, reported recently on the BBC, and is coming soon to your television screens via Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River […]

28 Oct 1:47pm

Graham, I suggest you talk to Lou, who works at the Transition Town Totnes office, and who also co-ordinates the Garden Share project.

Either email her on, or call her on 01803 867 358. I am sure she can outline the procedures they went through to avoid many of the concerns you outline.

7 Nov 10:34am

is there a garden share scheme any where in somerset as i have a vegetable patch which i would supply seeds etc to anyone who would maintain it for me who could also take the surplus produce

30 Jan 9:18am

I too would love to find someone who could make better use of my vegetable patch than I am currently able to do. Does anyone know of any garden share schemes covering Leeds?

Julie Roberts
26 Feb 8:05am

What a brilliant idea!

Is there one in Staffordshire???????

27 Feb 1:09pm

hi Angi,

I would love an allotment, but having previously experienced that it’s a lot of work if you’re working full-time, I was reluctant to put myself on the long waiting list for my local patch.

Where in Leeds do you live? I’d love to grow some veg, etc if you are willing to let me, and would probably know other people willing to pitch in.

2 Mar 12:56pm

Hi Cass,

Thanks for your interest.

I’m in North (East-ish)Leeds. I’m not sure how we might contact each other to discuss this further. (Am loathe to post contact details here, for obvious reasons). Do you have any ideas?


6 Mar 9:39am

Hi Angi,

do you use Facebook or LinkedIn? I’m listed on both (although can’t access Facebook at work, which is where I am now!).

FB = Cass Oliver
LinkedIn = Cassandra Oliver

If not, reply again here and we’ll think of something!


6 Mar 9:45am

Hi Cass,

I’m afraid not (as yet)! 🙁


6 Mar 10:12am

try me on this instead (once you’ve emailed, I’ll see if I can delete the post)