Alley Gardens

by Sadie

I live in a 3rd-floor apartment on a main street in a small town in Pennsylvania. I do not have a yard or any outdoor space so a few years ago, I let a few friends know that I was looking for a space to garden. I have since been able to develop three gardens in my town.

The first garden, which is now in its third year is approximately 10' x 20'. It is located in a "common yard" shared by four houses. I added a small herb garden and raspberries to the common yard last year. I plant and maintain the gardens, by choice, and we all share the produce.

One neighbor waters the garden and stores my garden tools. The others contribute whatever amount of money they feel is equitable to offset my costs. This garden is directly across an alley which is located behind my apartment building so it is very convenient.

This year, I obtained another space from a new homeowner that purchased property that included six raised-beds in a fenced-in area. The former, aging owners hadn't gardened in years and the area was unkempt.

The new owner has no interest in gardening and was planning to remove the beds and fence, and return the area to grass for easier lawn maintenance.

This garden is about 4 blocks from my apartment and directly across an alley located behind my boyfriend's house. One of his neighbors introduced me as an avid gardener looking for more space and the new owner agreed to allow me use of the beds.

I have "free" land and she is getting free maintenance, plus access to locally grown vegetables -it's a win-win situation. I imagine this garden will also become a neighborhood garden and anticipate sharing costs and produce with 4-5 households in that area.

The third garden is a 12' x 4' raised bed in a community garden that was established this year. This garden is also located off of the alley behind my apartment building, but it's about five blocks west of me.

On another note, although I haven't worked out a location for raising hens (yet), I have easy access to free-range eggs. A woman who works in an office located on the first floor of my apartment building raises hens and she brings fresh eggs into the office.

When I need eggs, I just send her an email and walk downstairs to pick them up later that day or the following day.

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