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BELMONT – Do you have land you do not use? Are you a gardener looking for additional growing space? Especially in rural Western New York, limited access to land should not be a concern for residents looking to grow their own food. Cornell Cooperative Extension Allegany County is looking to connect these two distinct groups of residents in a new pilot match-making program. Think “blind dating,” but for gardening space. This creative land use idea is called yard-sharing and helps support free and low-cost access to local nutritious food in communities around the world. 

Yard-sharing is an arrangement where a landowner allows a gardener access to land, typically a front or back yard, to grow food. This is an informal, one-to-one relationship, but numerous web-based applications exist to facilitate matchmaking. In this case, the local Cooperative Extension office will help collect the information from both land-seeking gardeners and landowners with a surplus of land. The extension will accept applications with the ideal deadline of May 15, and then continue to match interested parties on a rolling basis. Neighbors will be connected based on proximity and other preferences. After connections are made, extension agents will provide sample garden sharing agreement templates, educational materials, and support as needed to facilitate lasting partnerships.

Limited land access is an issue in both urban (villages) and rural areas of the county. All Allegany County residents are invited to participate in this free program. As more residents that engage in this sharing-model, Cornell Cooperative Extension Allegany County can find more suitable pairs. Please contact Jeremy Baier at or at 585-268-7644 extension 14 to find your yard-sharing match for the summer of 2021. 

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