H is for homegardens


26 September 2014

Homegardens are a form of mixed farming practiced on small plots of land usually surrounding or close to the home, and typically focused on subsistence food production. They are a popular and common form of urban agriculture and produce more than half of the fruit and vegetables consumed in a number of African cities in Burundi, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique and Zambia.

Some families produce food using car tyres and boxes to produce fruits and vegetables for themselves and for sale. In Dakar, almost 8,000 inner-city households grow tomatoes, lettuces and cucumbers for sale and in Nairobi, 11,000 households produce enough food in ‘sack gardens’ to cover the cost of their rent. In the capital of Cameroon, Yaoundé, around 35% of the residents grow traditional leafy vegetables which provide an important source of additional nutrition.

Most of the urban food growers involved in homegardening are women, since the men usually work on larger commercial operations either in the city or further afield. Homegardens can also be an amazing source of biodiversity. In Ethiopia some homegardens have over 150 plant species, including a range of garden crops (bananas, lemons, coffee) and field crops (cereals, beans, root crops, herbs and spices, nuts and medicinal plants).

Photo: Lettuce grown in urban garden in Dakar, Senegal


About the A-Z of food sovereignty project

The A-Z of Food Sovereignty in Africa shows the positive alternatives to corporate-led agriculture. A new letter was posted each day in the lead up to World Food Day arrived on 16 October 2014.

Africa’s small-scale food producers already know how to produce enough food sustainably to feed themselves but the political and economic rules which govern the food system are set against them. These rules are written by and for multinational companies and political elites, in support of a global food system that benefits them rather than the millions of smallholders and family farmers who produce the food and get little in return.

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