Living in the New York City area, it’s nearly impossible to have a garden, or even a space to grow small things like herbs, due to a lack of space.
Living just outside of the city, I am lucky to have friends who not only have backyard space, but also allow me to use it for my gardening pleasures. I like to grow vegetables because I believe home-grown tastes the best, because my parents have had gardens my whole life, and because I get great joy out of watching something start from a teeeeny tiny seed and then growing into a mega plant that produces something I can eat. It’s something I enjoy doing, but it’s really just another hobby I have added to my already long list of things I like to do.
But what if my life depended on the ability to garden?
In the Gulu district of Uganda, IIRR is working with local farmers to build backyard farms to improve nutrition among families, retain water, increase family incomes, and curb disease.
IIRR is facilitating trainings so farmers can learn how to build and maintain kitchen gardens, as well as how to sell surplus vegetables at local markets. The farmers also learn how to integrate technologies that can retain water for use in the off-season, which can be used for irrigation systems and help in composting.
The local kids also help in the kitchen gardens by weeding, harvesting, and monitoring, which can then help them gain important skills to avoid unemployment later down the road.
I grow things because it’s fun, but I know that elsewhere in the world, even more good can come from a simple backyard garden.