A kitchen garden is a place in or around the house where vegetables, herbs, and fruits are grown for household consumption and/or commercial purpose. The kitchen garden is not only the area used for growing food for daily use (1), but it is a unique space for family recreational activities. So it plays a key role in food security of poor household and it also helps the family members and neighbors to socialize (2).

Shazadi is one of 2500 women growing vegetables in her backyard since 2012 in porovinces of Sindh and Balochistan of Pakistan (3). Initially, FAO provided inputs including vegetable seeds, basic tools and trained after devastating flooding in 2010 and 2012. Her family lost house, livestock and standing crops during those floods. Though the livelihood of most of the families like her was based on agriculture, but they never practiced backyard gardening. After getting trained and inputs for kitchen

A Woman working in her Kitchen Garden in Sukkur Pakistan (Source)A Woman working in her Kitchen Garden  in Sukkur Pakistan (Source)

gardening she started growing vegetables in her kitchen garden and now she provides healthy and secure food to her family year around. According to another kitchen gardener Nasima, she no  longer need to buy vegetables from the market, and the nutrition of her family have improved significantly (4).

“This is a food war. Every extra row of vegetable in the allotments saves…the battle on the kitchen front cannot be won without the help from the kitchen garden, Isn’t an hour in the garden better than an hour in the queue?”

UK Kitchen Garden Campaign during World War II (Source)

UK food Minister Lord Woolton 1941, endorsed the importance of the kitchen garden during the World War II. Prior to the war, the United Kingdom imported 70% of its food. During the war, German forces cut the UK food supply and had made difficult to get food for people. Following the footsteps of America’s Victory Gardens, people started growing vegetables in their gardens. It encouraged women to contribute to war from their home. They were educated to prepare more nutritious food from their garden through BBC program “From Kitchen Front” and UK population become healthier it had been ever before (5).

Currently, global food system is producing more than need food produced today, yet 815 million (8) of people are facing the under-nutrition, and malnutrition affects. Food security, improved nutrition, and sustainable agriculture are among the leading objectives for achieving Zero Hunger across the globe (9). With the rapid increase in population, safe food production, and secure food supply becoming the serious concern for less developed countries.

Above mentioned examples and current hunger and malnutrition situation has established the importance of kitchen gardens in food security; “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (6). A study (7) explained the significance of kitchen gardens as they secure the food and provides balance nutritious food and it also promotes the sustainable agriculture at small level with sovereignty and dignity.  The kitchen gardens are additional secure food supply most of the year even during the harsh weather.

A recent study (10) was showed that local kitchen gardens produce economical and secure vegetables throughout the year.in Punjab province of Pakistan where Government of Punjab initiated kitchen gardening project in the flood affected district of Bahawalpur. Another study (11) indicated that production of fruits and vegetables in kitchen gardens make easy access of household to vital micro-nutrients. The vegetables and fruits grown in kitchen garden provide the essential micro-nutrients  those are the best mitigation against the hidden hunger that is caused by their deficiency. Micro-nutrients deficiency leads to serious physical and mental health issues that lead to low productivity.The kitchen gardens are known to increase local opportunities to eat better.

The balanced diet is not only the quantity of food but the adequate amount of essential vitamins, minerals, and oils besides protein and carbohydrate. The kitchen garden provides many of the nutrients essential for an adequate diet for a healthy life:

  • Carbohydrate starches derive from root vegetables like potato, sweet potato, taro, banana, cassava and yam
  • Beans, seeds, and nuts are sources of protein and oils come from
  • Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals
Picture1.pngHealth impacts of Vegetables (Source)

Most of the time the diet of the majority of families in developing countries is based on staple crops corn, wheat and rice that contributes to micro-nutrient deficiencies. Such individual cannot use their full potential – mentally, physically or financially. It also contributes to higher death rates from heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency particularly affect (12).

Countries like Pakistan where rural communities are more vulnerable to extreme calamities and lose their livelihoods, kitchen gardening remain the major intervention by the development projects. During the livelihood rehabilitation projects after 2005 South Asian earthquake and 2010 & 2012 flood development organization not only use kitchen gardening for securing the food at household it was also used as a sustainable income generating activity throughout the year (13). After two years (2011-12) of Food Security Project by Concen Worldwide in district of Mansehra of Pakistan, the kitchen garden practices increase to 75% at household level in targeted area. Fresh vegetables and fruits grown in those kitchen garden not only increased the household income by selling them directly in the market, but also by provided food for home use that would otherwise have to purchase.

Finally, kitchen garden is based on traditional practices, local environment and culture; it can be a sustainable source of household food security and micro-nutrient. In addition kitchen garden can be established cost effectively from small to large level. This type of activity empowers the women of developing countries by contributing in food expenses and saving that increase family welfare. Ultimately all benefits contribute towards poverty alleviation