Diverse strategies are required to address the problem of food production and food security. The choice of possible approaches pivots on the current social, political, and economic conditions and resources available to design and implement the interference.
Home gardens are a time-tested local strategy that is widely approved and practiced in various circumstances by local communities with limited resources and institutional support (Galhena, Freed and Maredia, 2013). It is evident from the literature that home gardens are a part of the agriculture and food production systems in many developing countries and are generally used as a remedy to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in the face of a global food crisis (Welch et al., 2000). Sri Lankan home gardens have been reported to produce 60 percent of leafy vegetables and 20 percent of all vegetables consumed by the household (Hoogerbrugge and Fresco, 1993).
Diet-related chronic diseases had been responsible for 18.3 percent of total mortality and 16.7 percent of hospital expenditure in Sri Lanka, while lack of dietary diversity is becoming the major cause. Nutritionists have identified dietary diversity as a key component of high quality diets (Marasinghe, Edirisinghe and Lokuge, 2015). Where home gardening plays a crucial role in generating dietary diversity. A study of home gardens in Cuba reveals that they were used as an approach to increase resilience and ensure food security in the face of economic crisis and political isolation (Buchmann, 2009).
Globally, home gardens have been recognized as an important supplemental source contributing to food and nutritional security and livelihoods. They provide both economic and social benefits that are essential to the nutritional welfare and security of the household. These gardens, with their diversified agricultural crops and trees, fulfill the basic needs of the local population. In addition, the multistoried arrangements of plants and relatively high species diversities prevent the environmental degradation that is commonly associated with monocultures (Nair and Sreedharan, 1986). Thus, these home gardens provide economic benefits while remaining ecologically sound and biologically sustainable.
“Home gardens have been defined “a small scale supplementary food production system by and for household members that mimic the natural multi-layered eco-system.” (Hoogerbrugge and Fresco, 1993). There are several types of home gardening such as forest gardening, kitchen garden, dry zone home gardens.
More recently, Weerahewa et al., (2012), while providing a detailed description of home gardens, defined it as a complex sustainable land use system that combines multiple farming components, such as annual and perennial crops, livestock and occasionally fish, of the homestead and provides environmental facilities, household needs, and employment and income generation opportunities to the households.