Home gardens have occupied our imagination for centuries. In the United States we have come to regard them as vital to maintaining healthy families. In Europe, home gardens have long been the center of social life. In fact, “home garden” is a term referring to both an actual place where gardens are grown and to a specific niche which home gardeners inhabit. Through a thorough literature review, this essay first presents an overview of basic meanings and characteristics of home gardens, and then offers a broad review of these economic, social, and environmental impacts to communities in different socio-economic settings.
The second half of this paper addresses four themes concerning home gardens in developing countries. I review the meaning and use of technical markers and measures, how local knowledge and experiences can be harnessed to create better household food supplies, and the potential impact of international trade on local agriculture. I close with suggestions for the extension of the discussion beyond agriculture to include other areas such as marketing, public health, education, communications, and communications technology.
Gardening Other Then Tradition
The first theme that I will discuss concerns the use and implementation of technical means to distinguish gardens from traditional gardening. Technical means refer to such things as state of the art irrigation systems, superior soil conditioner, fertilizers, pest control, hoses, pumps, tractors, generators, and pesticides. I shall note that there is often a certain tension between what people in developed nations consider “technical” and in other nations and developing nations consider “artistic”. The tension is best illustrated by the way that some Western gardeners distinguish themselves from “gardeners”.
Gardeners spend a lot of time experimenting with flowers and plants, soil types, light conditions, drainage, mulching, planting techniques and pest control. This can be an important factor in making your garden a better place to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs, but it is by no means a prerequisite.
International Trade Impact
The second theme I will discuss is the impact of international trade on local agriculture. Since the advent of large-scale trans-national corporate farming in the 1970’s, farmers all over the world have been forced to conform to what international agricultural markets dictate they must grow, where they must grow, how they must grow, and with whom they must export their produce to.
These practices impact directly on the quality and market price of local produce. For this reason, home gardens have become increasingly important in the fight against trans-national corporate farming. They allow you to produce food without being tethered to the land by cultural and geographical factors.
My third theme is related to urbanization and globalization. As cities continue to spread out and become crowded, the variety and quality of the foods grown becomes even more limited. The result is that urbanites suffer from nutrient deficiencies that lead to obesity and disease. While the root causes of this problem are manifold, solutions are also necessary because urban environments limit the kinds of crops that can be grown and the types of food that can be consumed. Home gardens offer an easy way to provide healthy, organic food from diverse, sustainable sources.
Theme Related To Human Habitat
My fourth theme is related to human habitat and how it relates to the quality of life. As agricultural land becomes more difficult to cultivate, human habitats expand. The result is less green space and a shrinking community around the farms. This problem is made worse by the fact that many people in urban areas are stuck in apartments or condominiums that lack much outdoor space. They therefore cannot enjoy the benefits of a lush home garden.
This article is just a tiny slice of the hundreds of topics on home gardens I could write about. I have been writing about them for over three decades. My aim is to help you find ways to transform your backyard into a personal playground and laboratory– a place where you and your children can do your own research and develop important skills.
I want you to feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself, so I hope my writing helps you make that happen. I invite you to visit my website to find out more about me and home gardens.