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

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 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 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.

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’.


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