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Kitchen Gardens - do they work?

This question was posted the Infant and young child feeding interventions forum area and has 9 replies.

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Alison Donnelly

Normal user

15 Apr 2011, 07:16

Kitchen gardens are often mentioned as an intervention to improve household food security. Has there been any documentation on their impact on the quality of complementary feeding? If coupled with strong community mobilization on IYCF, can they have an impact?

Dr Basil Kransdorff - e'Pap Technologies -

CEO - e'Pap Technologies

Normal user

15 Apr 2011, 15:07

I think the question is important because it raises an issue that I would like to comment on. I would also be interested in seeing any research or documentation on the issue. It is my belief that the so called "kitchen garden" which are now promoted as a way of creating "food security" is flawed in terms of the proposed expectation - food security. I want to challenge anybody who has a "door sized: garden to prove to me that such a small gardens can in anyway contribute to food security. It is rather like asking a person to compete with commercial farmers who are much more effecient in making tons of food on vast tracks of land. I think if the wrong expectation or objective is created around the objective of a home food garden, I cannot see how a "kitchen sized garden" can in anyway provide food securrity. I think the objective and purpose of "kitchen gardens" should change to one of a "kitchen garden" creating an expectation and objective of creating "nutrition" security. Every micro nutrient produced and eaten from an effective home grown food garden are going to be worth bottles and bottles of expensive non absorbable micronutrients purchased from a pharmacy. There is a a concept that says - a poor person living in a "nutrient replete state" can live with dignity and health and with a quality of life that would be the envy of people who are living with so called "full stomachs" using sterile food security which by the way is now common practice across the globe for rich and poor. A poor person living with a full stomach of sterile food will live in a daily nightmare as is shown across most poor communities struggling to survive. We should start creating two distinct new concepts - one should be around food security which is more about "stomach filling" and the other should be around "nutrition security" which should be about nutrient density, quality of food and acheiving an objective of "nutrient repleteness". How we address these two very different needs should then become the debate and the objective. Only then will the so called "kitchen garden" start to become a sensible approach to helping poor folk survive in a world that has made them dependent on "big business" that is not and cannot address the daily bodies nutrition needs to keep them functional as human beings.

Asa Lelei

World Vision Kenya

Normal user

15 Apr 2011, 20:21

I strongly believe that kitchen garden is the most effective and sustainable way of a successful IYCF. There has been documentation of kitchen garden initiated in mother support group which to me should be IYCF support group in that men are to be involved in the IYCF because they play a core role in household leadership. However, there is need to beef up the monitoring and evaluation of kitchen garden to ensure they yield the desirable results. Kitchen garden form one of the social gathering at the community level and this will enhance exchange of ideas on IYCF. Kitchen garden documentation should be incorporated with other nutritional intervention and reporting especially with the MoH reporting tools.

Casie Tesfai

Normal user

16 Apr 2011, 12:55

Hi Alison, Good question and I would also like to see some published findings on this matter. What I've often come across are gardening programmes with the aim to prevent acute malnutrition. But as acute malnutrition affects children under 2 most commonly, then I often wonder why we feel 'expanding' the already mostly plant based diet in resource poor settings will do this. And as Dewey points out, a plant-based diet alone is not sufficient to meet the micronutrient requirments of children under 2.

Anonymous 361

Sen. Adv. FNS Concern Worldwide

Normal user

18 Apr 2011, 09:27

Some good reading material on kitchen gardening and its impact on nutrition: 1.) Homestead food production- an effective integrated approach to improve food security among the vulnerable char dwellers in northern Bangladesh; Helen Keller International, Homestead Food Production Program, Bulletin No. 4, December2006 2.) From Agriculture to Nutrition: Pathways, Synergies, and outcomes; World Bank, 2007

Marie McGrath


Frequent user

18 Apr 2011, 09:47

Dear All There is a good field article in issue 40 of Field Exchange ( that describes multi-storey gardening in refugee camps in Ethiopia. This combined gardening with poultry farming, and describes achievements and challenges. See p35 to 37. Regards, Marie

Rogers Wanyama

Nutrition Specialist

Normal user

18 Apr 2011, 10:05

Hi Look at the link below Regards Rogers

Anonymous 118

Nutrition Advisor

Normal user

18 Apr 2011, 17:23

Here is some literature on this topic from the IYCN project that seems useful:


Forum Moderator, ENN

Forum moderator

22 Apr 2011, 14:20

From Alex Mokori: Hi, This is a very interesting area to explore further because home/kitchen/backyard gardens have been applied for decades as means of diversifying diets. However, there is limited evaluation of their contribution to improved IYCF. Usually, programs only inputs to the women and never encompass active nutrition education. I had a privilege to lead a USAID/East Africa funded ROADS project for PLHIV in Busia, Kenya and Busia, Uganda from 2007 to 2008. Although it did not mainly focus on IYCF, it provided insights on role of agricultural technologies for enhancing nutrition and livelihoods. Such a multi-faceted strategy could be applied to promote dietary diversity. The report can be downloaded from

ken hargesheimer

gardens/mini-farms network

Normal user

3 Oct 2014, 20:17

yes, they will work if you use organic, no-till gardening with bucket drip irrigation to grow during the dry season. I have info I will send.

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