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Trees in Home Gardens: Making the Most of an Age-Old Practice to Improve Food Security and Nutrition

Photo: Eskil Mattsson

Trees in Home Gardens: Making the Most of an Age-Old Practice to Improve Food Security and Nutrition

This brief explores the value of an agroforestry approach to home gardens, incorporating multiple layers of trees, shrubs and crops, in the context of nutrition and food security. The brief has been produced through a collaboration between Focali and SIANI around the theme “Forests, Landscapes and Food Security”.

Home gardens have been vital to human societies for thousands of years: from clusters of beneficial trees and shrubs planted on forest edges in pre-historic times, to the lush edible gardens grown traditionally in many tropical regions, to the tiny, densely planted backyards that dot cities worldwide. 
 
Home gardens play an important role in food security and nutrition, especially when food supplies are inadequate or unreliable. In urban areas, fresh produce may be costly and hard to find, and in rural areas, much of the agricultural land is devoted to staple-crop monocultures: maize, rice, soy, etc. – which are crucial, but not enough for a complete diet. Home gardens help fill the nutritional gaps. 
 
Recognizing these benefits, many have sought to promote home gardening as part of efforts to improve food security and nutrition, strengthen livelihoods, and increase poor communities’ resilience to a wide range of shocks, including climate change impacts. This brief seeks to contribute to those efforts, focusing on the value of planting multi-layered gardens with trees, shrubs and crops. It examines the challenges and opportunities in taking such an approach in a development context, with drawing on case studies in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Burkina Faso, and identifies areas for further research and policy analysis. 
 
Download the brief (PDF, 2.2MB); or a low-res version (PDF, 851kb – for very slow connections) 
 

About the brief: 

This brief was produced through a collaboration between Focali and SIANI around the theme “Forests, Landscapes and Food Security”. The views presented are solely the authors’.
 
This brief was written by Marion Davis, of the Stockholm Environment Institute, with contributions from Ekaterina Bessonova of the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI), Eskil Mattsson and Matilda Palm, of Focali and Chalmers University of Technology, and Jenny Friman and Maria Ölund of Focali and the University of Gothenburg.
 

Related material: 

The Focali researcher and co-author of this brief Eskil Mattsson will travel to Delhi 10-14 of February to attend the World Congress on Agroforestry, WCA. At the congress he will present his research from Sri Lanka about the agroforestry system "Homegardens". Read more about his research in his blog "Sri Lankan homegardens: Lush beauty, food security and carbon capture in compact packages" submitted in the WCA blog competition.

 

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