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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

1.3 The organization of this book

Part I, Gardens as a Development Strategy, summarizes the basic principles of nutrition and economics as they apply to gardens in the Third World, the evidence that household gardens are a viable development strategy, and ways of assessing whether gardens are appropriate in a given situation.

Chapter 2 reviews the special nutritional needs of women and children, and the effects of work, illness, and seasonality on nutrition in drylands. The function, requirements, and dietary sources of specific nutrients are discussed, but the emphasis is on the important effects that the combination of foods in household meals can have on the total nutritional value of the diet, and on the primary goal of assuring adequate energy intakes. Gardens have the potential to improve overall dietary diversity and contribute critical nutrients such as vitamin A, iron, and energy, often when other sources are not available.

Gardens can improve household well-being by providing income and savings. Chapter 3 discusses the need to understand gardeners’ economic decision making, including concepts of production efficiency, economic rationality, and control over resources. Storage and processing techniques and organizing into cooperatives are discussed as ways of reducing the risks involved in marketing garden produce. Women’s roles in production and marketing must be explicitly considered so that they are not excluded from the economic benefits of gardens.

In Chapter 4 the essential role of assessment, monitoring, and evaluation in garden projects is reviewed. Community control of the assessment process, representativeness, understanding existing gardens, and some specific techniques, such as interviewing, are discussed.

Part II, Garden Management, covers the basic principles, indigenous practices, and specific suggestions for managing plants, soils, water, pests, and diseases in dryland gardens. The emphasis is on managing the whole garden as an ecological system, and on the garden as only one of many household activities. This means that the use of resources in specific garden management strategies must be balanced against the potential use of those resources in other garden and household activities. The goal is not maximizing production, but maximizing household and community well-being.

Chapter 5 discusses the basic principles of plant biology in relationship to heat, drought, salinity, and seasonality. Sexual reproduction and growing plants from seeds is the topic of Chapter 6, which includes many specific suggestions for planting seeds under dryland conditions and diagnosing planting problems. Vegetative propagation by cuttings, tubers, bulbs, offsets, suckers, grafting, and layering are discussed in Chapter 7. Chapter 8 covers a wide range of practices for maintaining healthy and productive dryland gardens: nursery bed and container planting, transplanting, plant interactions, weed management, pruning, and trellising.

Chapter 9 on soils emphasizes the importance of reducing wind and water erosion, and of maintaining adequate soil organic matter to ensure fertility and water-holding capacity. The movement of water in soils, and the relationship of soil, water, and garden yield are discussed in Chapter 10 as the basis for specific techniques to improve water management. Chapter 11 describes sources of water for the garden and various indigenous and other techniques for capturing this water through rainwater harvesting, floodwater gardening, and hand-dug wells. Chapter 12 discusses water-lifting and the application of water to the garden through surface irrigation, root zone irrigation, and sprinkler irrigation. It also addresses ways to avoid salinity and waterlogging.

Chapter 13 advocates an ecological approach for dealing with pests and diseases in which total garden management rather than the use of toxic pesticides is the most efficient, self-sufficient, and ecologically sustainable strategy. It includes four tables with accompanying figures for diagnosing and managing garden problems.

Part III, Garden Harvest, covers harvesting and using garden produce, including seed saving for future planting. Chapter 14 discusses the value of local control of folk crop varieties for genetic diversity, sustainability, and self-sufficiency, and methods for seed saving and storage. Indigenous and other techniques for harvesting, cooking, drying, sprouting, malting, fermenting, and storing garden produce to increase its contribution to diets throughout the year are the topic of Chapter 15. Weaning foods are one of the most important dietary contributions gardens can make. Chapter 16 describes how many garden foods can be processed to provide nutrient- and energy-rich weaning foods, often in quantities and at times when other food sources are not sufficient.

Part IV, Resources, contains a glossary (Chapter 17), a list of all garden crop species mentioned in the text with their scientific names and a list of important garden crop families (Chapter 18), an annotated list of resource organizations (Chapter 19), and a list of references cited in the text (Chapter 20), the most useful of which are annotated. An index is also included.