Gardening against hunger
Small food gardens near the family home have traditionally made an important contribution to family nutrition. Home gardens help provide variety in the diet and supply vital vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and proteins. Good nutrition helps the body to resist disease and help improve family health.
The home garden is the most direct means of supplying families with most of the non-staple foods year-round.
A well-developed home garden contributes significantly to daily food needs. It can supply households with nearly all non-staple foods that are needed, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and root crops as well as spices and herbs, medicines and flowers for ornamental purposes or for sale.
Income from the sale of home garden produce can make a substantial contribution to family’s income, to buy daily essentials and other goods and services. Food items that cannot be produced in the home garden or other family land can be purchased from the sale of other items in the home garden. For example, coconut oil or woven mats from the home garden can be sold to traders or shops and the money used to buy foods that the family cannot grow.
Women are usually key to improving nutrition through home gardens. Pregnant and nursing mothers and young children are more likely to suffer from malnutrition. Women usually prepare, process and store family food supplies.
Planning a home garden. Before planning your home garden, take time to assess local nutritional problems and consider how to solve these. Where lack of protein is a serious problem, home garden projects should include the growing of high-protein crops, such as beans of all kinds, as well as the raising of fish, poultry and small animals.
In situations where deficiencies of iron (anaemia) and calcium are common, cultivate vegetables with high iron and calcium content like fluted pumpkin leaves (Ngu) cabbages, spinach. Where Vitamin A deficiency causes ill health and blindness grow plants such as sweet peppers and carrots which are rich in Vitamin A.
In urban areas, there may be a small area of land outside the home or by the roadside which could be cultivated. Otherwise, herbs, tomatoes, peppers and leafy crops can be grown in tubs made from old tyres or plastic buckets by windows or doors and watered regularly.
Setting up a home garden project: key points for success
Consider carefully how to organize production – in either individual or communal plots and how to coordinate support.
Choose crops well
Crops should be:
Easy to grow, with a short growing cycle or long cropping season.
Adapted to the local climate
Popular, with good flavour
Pest and disease resistant
When choosing suitable vegetables, study the diet of poor families with good health. Also study the diet of older people with more traditional food customs.
When water is scarce, other domestic needs are likely to take priority. Improve the water available to plants Raising chickens for protein and profit iron (anemia) and calcium are common, cultivate vegetables with high iron and calcium content like fluted pumpkin leaves (Ngu) cabbages, spinach. Where Vitamin A deficiency causes ill health and blindness grow plants such as sweet peppers and carrots which are rich in Vitamin A.