• Sitka Global Warming Group, Sitka Local Foods Network offer Sitka garden-matching program

Michelle Putz of the Sitka Global Warming Group staffs the garden match booth at the Let's Grow Sitka event on March 14, 2010

Michelle Putz of the Sitka Global Warming Group staffs the garden match booth at the Let's Grow Sitka event on March 14, 2010

Do you have a planting bed that you don’t have the time or energy to cultivate? Do you wish you could grow some vegetables, but have no place to put them?

Sitka Global Warming Group (SGWG), in conjunction with the Sitka Local Foods Network, is offering a garden-matching program to help people who have garden space get matched up with people who want to plant and tend a garden. This is an effort to increase the amount of food grown and eaten locally. SGWG asks Sitka residents who have garden space to share or residents who need a garden space to contact the group at info@sitkaglobalwarming.org. Provide your name, email address, phone number, size of the spot available or wanted, and the location of either the spot that is available or the address of the person who wants the spot.

So far the garden match program has paired up a couple of gardeners with garden beds, and helped get a few more people gardening at the homes of their friends and families. But the garden match program needs more garden spaces and gardeners. Michelle Putz of SGWG said they need more garden spaces along Halibut Point Road (where they have several available gardeners) and they need more gardeners along Sawmill Creek Road (where they have several available garden spaces).

“Can you (or someone you know) spare a little bit of garden or yard space that could be shared, especially on HPR?” Michelle asked in a recent e-mail. “Do you or someone you know long to get some veggie seeds in, but have nowhere to do it? Please call me ASAP at 747-2708. Would you like to help match people? Call if you’d like to volunteer.”

Michelle said the group is not setting any expectations of either the people who offer garden space or who want a garden space. Sharing of produce will be encouraged, but won’t be an expectation. SGWG also does not know how many participants to expect.

“This is the first year that we will do this,” Michelle said. “We’ve seen plenty of people who want to grow their own food but don’t have space to do it, and we have seen a lot of planting beds and garden spots that go unused during the summer because people are too busy or lack knowledge or experience in growing a garden. This is a great way to match those unused gardens with someone who will make them productive and increase the amount of vegetables being grown in Sitka.”

“Growing food locally has many benefits,” Michelle added. “For our group, the benefit is reducing the miles that food is shipped [thus reducing fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions]. But growing food locally also makes the food cheaper and improves the quality and healthfulness of the vegetables, since they are fresher. Growing food locally also improves our ‘food security,’ making a food shortage less likely in times of high fuel prices or bad weather. And local food tastes really good.”