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close this bookFood from Dryland Gardens - An Ecological, Nutritional, and Social Approach to Small Scale Household Food Production (CPFE, 1991)
close this folderHow to use this book
close this folder1. Introduction
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View the document1.1 Some definitions
View the document1.2 The purpose of this book
View the document1.3 The organization of this book

1.1 Some definitions

We have written this book to encourage gardens to improve nutrition, income, and self-sufficiency in rural and urban communities in the drylands of the Third World.

In the drylands, lack of water limits plant growth for at least several months of the year (Figure 1.2). Drylands include the deserts and savannas as well as the subhumid regions where there is a long dry season, including west, east and southern Africa, southern Europe, north Africa and southwest Asia, south Asia, southwestern North America, northeastern Brazil and western South America, and most of Australia.

In this book Third World does not refer to a geographic region but to a situation where communities are not in control of their own resources, and are often exploited by outside markets, organizations, or governments on which they are dependent. Third World people are relatively poor, unhealthy, and malnourished compared with most people in the wealthier industrial world, and the majority of people in drylands live in the Third World. The Third World includes not only the majority of the population in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but also many communities within the rich industrialized nations of Europe, the USA, Canada, Japan, and Australia. We use the terms “Third World” and “industrial world” instead of “developing” and “developed” because these last two imply a single cultural and socioeconomic path toward a goal the industrialized countries have attained and to which the Third World must aspire.

A household is a group of people who regularly work and eat together. Gardens, like the ones just described, have been a part of household food production systems around the world for hundreds and thousands of years. They continue to be an important part of households’ production and consumption strategies into the 1990s. Gardens can be identified primarily by their function, rather than their form, location, size or the types of crops grown. Whether controlled by the household or by an individual in the household, household gardens are secondary sources of food and income, while field production, animal husbandry, wage labor, professional services, or trading are the major sources of support.

The value of household gardens lies not only in what they can do but in how they can do it. Improving nutritional and economic conditions is the goal of many “development” efforts. However, it is rare to find those goals pursued in ways that support local participation and control and equity, while striving for sustainable use of resources. Garden projects are no exception. Many garden projects are based on the promotion of an industrial garden model, rather than on the indigenous gardens which people in local communities are already growing (Part I). We use the term indigenous to describe locally developed knowledge, practices, and resources including crop varieties and gardens.