The Secret of Backyard Gardens

Maman feels happy about the income she's making with her garden's produce.

What’s the secret of successful backyard gardens?

It’s all about the gardeners.  A gardener who is committed to working the land with wisdom and understands the growing process can nurture plants to grow. With patience and care, the garden will produce nutritious foods every year.

Gardens fit well into this year’s United Nations’ theme for World Food Day (WFD) on October 16, which is “sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition.”

Food systems like backyard gardens produce a variety of nutritious food in bulk  for feeding families, sharing with neighbors and selling in marketplaces for income. Year after year, gardeners learn how to manage and grow crops for increased produce.

The Beauty of Backyard Gardens

Backyard gardens are important to Food for the Hungry (FH) for combating malnutrition, increasing income and building community.  FH staff trains and encourages families to transform untamed plots of land near their homes into productive gardens that give life-saving vegetables. It’s a sustainable project that gives food year after year.

But you’ve got to get people to believe in the value of it. People like Maman Kichochi Makuu from the Democratic Republic of the Congo didn’t see the value of creating a backyard garden.

At age 35, she had seven children to feed. She had a small fish business and thought FH’s garden teachings couldn’t help her.

A few months after FH’s training, her small fish business closed due to increased operational costs. Then her children got expelled from school, because she couldn’t pay classroom fees. Maman’s children were out of school for almost four months, when Maman decided to do something about it.

Giving Gardens Another Try

Dembo Katombe, FH Staff, presented the concept of backyard gardens again to a group of women, including Maman. FH provided training and the seeds for the gardens.

Maman planted cabbages and tomatoes on 1.8 acres of land on the Rugo River’s bank. The crops grew well, but floods destroyed them. She felt hopeless.

Dembo encouraged Maman not to give up. He showed her how she had done well, and needed to try again. So she looked for different land, and found 2.5 acres near her home. She planted only tomatoes. The plants grew up strong.

Her first harvest sold for $19 (USD). This was enough to pay for all of her children’s school fees. But she knew she’d need more money for next year, so she kept her garden growing.

She harvested approximately 50 lbs of tomatoes every two weeks and made $76 (USD) a month. She shared extra produce with other families. Now, during peak harvest times, she earns $113 (USD) a month.

Plans to Grow More

With the help of FH, she plans to expand her garden to grow more tomatoes, onions, eggplant and amaranths. In the rainy season, she’s decided to grow rice. Maman’s garden is growing bigger and better each year. And Maman is earning more and more money for her family.

This is just one example of how your partnership with Food for the Hungry changes lives…not only for the moment, but for years to come.  In celebration of World Food Day on October 16, give a family seeds to plant a garden for a sustainable food supply!



About Renee Targos

Renee is a former journalist and editor for national arts and business publications. As a writer for Food for the Hungry, Renee explores and reports on the work and relationships of partners, FH staff and impoverished communities.

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