Backyard gardening for sustainable nutrition and food security


Throughout the year SCI volunteers organise many projects focusing on gardening and growing food. Through these projects we are able to help people looking to improve their diets and involve lots of community members and volunteers in the process!

The project «Backyard gardening for sustainable nutrition and food security» of SURCOD Malawi (Sustainable Rural Community Development) was supported by GAIA MicroGrants last year. Organizers of the project aim to support rural communities in becoming self-sustained through the creation of year-round backyard gardens thanks to which their meals can be balanced and include vegetables. 


This initiative started with the observation that food insecurity is one of the issues related to climate change in many local communities. In Malawi usually the dry season starts from May until November. And due to climate change issues, the rainy season has shifted to December and even January. Nsanje district is one of the disaster prone areas, therefore the project was organised there during the dry season when communities become food insecure due to either floods or drought.  


Eighty farmers from 10 Villages in Nsanje district joined the activities. Indirectly, the project has managed to reach out to five more villages, bringing together a total number of 370 farmers. The communities have harvested and enjoyed vegetables which have improved their diet and some have even economically benefited. Most families worked hard in watering their gardens due to the strong sun which appeared to be a threat during the period. However, most of the farmers managed to harvest vegetables, especially those that live close to water sources.


Participants learned about the use of compost manure, neem pest control method (using leaves of that tree to keep plants safe was a novelty to all participants!) and new garden models like “Keyhole” and “Sack” gardens. The farmers used plastic bottles as cans to water the gardens and the didn’t have to buy any watering canes.


Obviously, the project proved to the communities that they don’t have to buy expensive equipment to grow their own food, but instead they can make good use of the available resources to maximise their potential. During an evaluation successful farmers were happy because their meals included vegetables which they did not have to buy anymore. They also appreciated the new knowledge and how they will continue to use it, especially during the rainy season when the weather will be more friendly to their new gardens.


Written by GAIA Microgrants team


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