FARMERS’ KRAAL: The economic potential of community gardening

Community gardens have become a model of sustainable small-scale agriculture in the country and have shown many benefits.

These gardens could become a great source of income for the rural community, and also improve the country’s overall food security.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food security is based on four pillars, namely food availability, food access, utilization and stability of supply.

These four pillars combined show that food security has two main components, which are the ability to be self-sufficient in food production through own production; and accessibility to markets and the ability to buy food. Thus, self-sufficiency in food production can be enhanced through community gardening. Community gardens are places where people come together to grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. To do this, they rent individual or shared plots within the community garden.

In many parts of the country, community gardens are run by churches, neighborhood associations, nonprofits, community agencies, clubs, private landowners, and municipalities…pretty much anyone .

Investments in community gardens could mobilize local communities and create jobs. Villagers – especially women – are encouraged to work on demarcated spaces to grow their own crops.

These gardens can become spaces for community exchanges and knowledge sharing. Well-established community gardens could provide formal training where students learn agricultural production, pest management, business management and rural entrepreneurship.

Most of the farmers in these gardens are women, as they hold the traditional role of growing subsistence crops in many rural contexts. Thus, women can contribute more to their household budget and therefore become more involved in family decisions.

Community gardens have a great impact at the community level, especially in small villages. They become a business hotspot, catching locals’ attention and encouraging young people to take hoes.

By attracting a young workforce, these gardens help to avoid rural exodus and migration to urban centers, while offering life opportunities to new generations.

These gardens provide local communities with access to diverse and affordable food. Almost all food is organic, as are compost and pesticides. Overall, the nutrition of children and adults is thus improved.

Low-income households in developing countries often suffer from poor health due to poor diet and hunger. These households often consume nutrient-poor staple diets. These basic diets can be rectified through home vegetable production (gardening).

Gardening can directly increase the availability, accessibility and use of nutritious foods through the provision of a diverse range of fresh foods. Home gardening activities can be carried out in community gardens with virtually no economic resources, using locally available planting material, green manure and indigenous pest control methods, making it a form of sustainable agriculture. .

Community gardening is an age-old tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation and throughout history gardening has proven to be a reliable source of food for the poor.

Shared cultures have greatly contributed to the development of local communities. Increased income has transformational benefits for the whole community.

After initial investments, community gardens tend to grow on their own in settings like rural Namibia. With or without external support, producers establish formal or informal associations to manage problems as they arise. Profits are reinvested for maintenance, and to develop the gardens.

Gardening indeed contributes to the food security of community gardeners. However, for garden sustainability to be improved, community gardeners need to adopt a wide range of traditional and commercial vegetables that they can grow throughout the year.

Some traditional vegetables are well accustomed to seasonal variations, and by growing these types of traditional vegetables, people can also increase the availability of nutrient-dense vegetables for their households.

Rural communities must embrace projects such as community gardens and use them as avenues to other economic opportunities – the sky is the limit.
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2021-05-03 Charles Tjatindi

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