ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Over the last two decades, the importance of conserving genetic resources has received increasing attention. In this context the role of home gardens as repositories of biological diversity has been acknowledged but still a comprehensive, interdisciplinary investigation of their agro-biodiversity is lacking. Home gardens, whether found in rural or urban areas, are characterized by a structural complexity and multifunctionality which enables the provision of different benefits to ecosystems and people. Studies carried out in various countries demonstrate that high levels of inter- and intra-specific plant genetic diversity, especially in terms of traditional crop varieties and landraces, are preserved in home gardens. Families engage in food production for subsistence or small-scale marketing and the variety of crops and wild plants provides nutritional benefits. At the same time, home gardens are important social and cultural spaces where knowledge related to agricultural practices is transmitted and through which households may improve their income and livelihoods. The present article summarizes available literature on the biological and cultural significance of agro-biodiversity in home gardens. It discusses future constraints and opportunities in home garden research, in the prospect of defining and promoting their role in conservation of agricultural biodiversity and cultural heritage. KeywordsHome gardens-Agro-ecosystems-In situ conservation-Agro-biodiversity-Landraces
Content may be subject to copyright.
Home gardens: neglected hotspots of agro-biodiversity
and cultural diversity
Gea Galluzzi
Pablo Eyzaguirre
Valeria Negri
Received: 13 January 2010 / Accepted: 6 September 2010
Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
Abstract Over the last two decades, the importance of conserving genetic resources has
received increasing attention. In this context the role of home gardens as repositories of
biological diversity has been acknowledged but still a comprehensive, interdisciplinary
investigation of their agro-biodiversity is lacking. Home gardens, whether found in rural or
urban areas, are characterized by a structural complexity and multifunctionality which
enables the provision of different benefits to ecosystems and people. Studies carried out in
various countries demonstrate that high levels of inter- and intra-specific plant genetic
diversity, especially in terms of traditional crop varieties and landraces, are preserved in
home gardens. Families engage in food production for subsistence or small-scale mar-
keting and the variety of crops and wild plants provides nutritional benefits. At the same
time, home gardens are important social and cultural spaces where knowledge related to
agricultural practices is transmitted and through which households may improve their
income and livelihoods. The present article summarizes available literature on the bio-
logical and cultural significance of agro-biodiversity in home gardens. It discusses future
constraints and opportunities in home garden research, in the prospect of defining and
promoting their role in conservation of agricultural biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Keywords Home gardens Agro-ecosystems In situ conservation Agro-biodiversity
G. Galluzzi (&)
Bioversity International, Office of the Americas, c/o CIAT, km 17 Recta Cali- Palmira, Cali, Colombia
P. Eyzaguirre
Bioversity International, Via dei Tre Denari 472a, 00057 Maccarese, Rome, Italy
V. Negri
Department of Applied Biology, University of Perugia, Borgo XX Giugno 74, 06121 Perugia, Italy
Biodivers Conserv
DOI 10.1007/s10531-010-9919-5
Conservation of agro-biodiversity
While it is commonly acknowledged that the diversity of life forms in the natural world
is being depleted under increasing human pressure on the Earth’s ecosystems, there is
much less awareness that agro-biodiversity is under similar threats. Agro-biodiversity is a
subset of natural biodiversity which includes the plant genetic resources used for food and
agriculture (cultivars, landraces, ecotypes, weedy races and wild relatives) (Negri et al.
2009). Maintenance of genetic variation within agricultural crops provides a broad range
of essential goods and services which support ecosystem functioning, resilience and pro-
ductivity (Tilman 1999, 2000), and for this reason it has become a core principle of
sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology (Altieri and Merrick 1987; Paoletti 2001;
Le Coeur et al. 2002; Marshall and Moonen 2002). Agro-biodiversity also provides farmers
and breeders with raw material for continuously selecting and adapting crops to changing
environmental conditions or to the needs of a growing human population (IPGRI 1993).
This continuous process of experimentation leads to an exceptionally strong connection
between agro-biodiversity and people, cultures, and landscapes.
The growing concern around the loss of agro-biodiversity in the last decades has fuelled
global efforts to improve conservation actions through a number of international docu-
ments and agreements. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD 1992) intends to halt
the current loss of plant and crop diversity while contributing to poverty reduction and
sustainable development. The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC 2002) aims
by 2010 to conserve ‘70% of the genetic diversity of crops and other major socio-
economically valuable plant species’’, while maintaining the ‘associated indigenous and
local knowledge’’. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and
Agriculture (ITPGRFA 2001) specifically focuses on the ‘‘conservation and sustainable use
of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the
benefits arising out of their use’’. It requires contracting parties to ‘‘promote or support []
farmers’ and local communities’ efforts to manage and conserve on-farm their plant
genetic resources’’.
In ex situ conservation through gene banks or botanical gardens, the removal of species
from their natural ecological and evolutionary context results in a ‘static’’ conservation in
which evolutionary and adaptive potential are frozen. Only a third of the species conserved
in gene banks are landraces or primitive cultivars while minor, underutilized species and
wild relatives are under-represented (Hammer et al. 2004). On the contrary, a major portion
of agro-biodiversity thrives in complex agro-ecosystems which are most often managed by
small farmers worldwide. On farm conservation in their fields and gardens is a ‘dynamic’
solution which ensures the continuous adaptation of species and landraces within their
changing environment and relies upon both human and biological components of the
In this context, this study focuses on in situ conservation of agro-biodiversity in those
small but highly diversified ecological niches generally known as home gardens. These
complex microenvironments (for average sizes see Table 1), traditionally integrated within
a larger surrounding ecosystem (Gliessman 1990a; Eyzaguirre and Linares 2004) have
been described as sustainable and diversified niches shaped by a close interaction between
nature and human cultures: ‘[A] village with its home gardens is not merely a dwelling-
place but also an important agro-ecosystem. It is an integrated unit in which the solar
Biodivers Conserv
energy is channelled through the plants to animals and man, and matter is cycled and
recycled’ (Soemarwoto et al. 1975).
The study of home gardens as distinct ecological and cultural entities was initiated in
the tropics of South East Asia about 25 years ago (Soemarwoto et al. 1975; Stoler 1975;
Sommers 1978). Since then, research has concentrated mostly on developing countries and
has rarely focused on assessing home gardens’ importance as repositories of crop genetic
diversity. This gap in research is critical particularly when considering the data reviewed in
this study, which instead point out that home gardens are crucial reservoirs of agro-
biodiversity—at inter- and intra-specific levels—within diversified environmental and
cultural contexts (Eyzaguirre and Watson 2001; Guarino and Hoogendijk 2004).
Focusing on plants, this study aims to review the available literature on home gardens’
agro-biodiversity and to highlight their relevance in cultural and socio-economic terms.
Challenges and opportunities for improved research, monitoring and management of
Table 1 Descriptive data on home gardens from studies in different countries
Country(region) N. home
Average no.
Predominant plant use Source
Austria, Osttirol
196 116 10 Mostly ornamentals, followed
by spices, pickles and fruit
and Vogl
Dai Prefecture)
10 199 18 Mostly edible plants (Yongneng
et al. 2006)
Ghana N/A 3750 45 Cereals, legumes and other
edibles, spices and medicinal
plants, ornamentals
et al. 2001)
Guatemala 47 90–2500 6 Food and ornamentals, fodder
(Leiva et al.
Hungary 323 571 18 Mostly fruit trees, followed by
horticultural and fodder spp.
(Birol et al.
India (North East,
Barak Valley)
50 3000 23.5 Mostly fruits and medicinal
(Das and Das
Nepal 134 418 33 Vegetables, followed by fruit
and fodder
et al. 2006)
Papua New
700 817 N/A Vegetables and other edible
(Vasey 1985)
Peru (Nuevo
24 2944 16.3 Fruits, followed by other food
and medicinal plants
(Coomes and
Ban 2004)
Russia 712 2550 N/A Potatoes and vegetables and
small livestock
(Seeth et al.
South Africa 63 4000 12 Fruits, morogos (wild
spinaches), other edible
(High and
Venezuela 150 6000 16 Mostly edible species (Quiroz et al.
Vietnam 120 1045 45 Mostly medicinal, followed by
vegetable and fruit crops
(Trinh LN
et al. 2001)
Biodivers Conserv
within-garden agro-biodiversity are identified and recent trends in policy and society which
may affect its conservation within home garden systems are also discussed.
Biological features
Complexity and multi-functionality
Home gardens occur in regions with either high and low human population densities and
are always located in proximity of human dwellings, often delimited from their sur-
roundings by hedges, fences or other barriers. The more or less sharp separation, coupled
with repeated tending from the household create specialized edaphic, microclimatic and
biotic conditions which make home gardens markedly different from the surrounding
landscape (Guarino and Hoogendijk 2004). Countryside home gardens contribute to the
functioning and sustainability of the larger agricultural ecosystem (Engels 2001), providing
services such as pollination, refuge for micro- and macro-fauna and allowing for gene-flow
between plant populations inside and out of the garden. The increasingly important urban
gardens, which are no longer connected to larger agro-ecosystems, contribute to improving
air quality, reducing CO
emissions and temperatures, providing citizens with livelihood
opportunities as well as social and recreational activities (Van Veenhuizen 2006; Viljoen
et al. 2009).
Defining an average size for home gardens is context-dependent; different agroeco-
logical and socio-economic conditions determine significant variations across agro-
ecosystems (see Table 1). In general, where home gardens represent a niche within larger
farming systems, their size is to some degree proportional to the size of the overall farm
(Guarino and Hoogendijk 2004). Gardens in cities, which do not have an immediate
connection with larger fields, are a more fragmented resource (Gaston et al. 2005) whose
size largely depends on the competition for land from buildings and infrastructural
development (Nin
ez 1984; Vasey 1985; Linares 1996).
Traditional home gardens typically have a multilayered arrangement, resembling an
agro-forestry system, which brings different plant species together in a temporal and/or
spatial succession; this stratified and dynamic architecture, more than the identity of single
species, has been shown to make a home garden a sustainable and resilient ecosystem
(Smith et al. 2006) in which differentiated root structures utilize nutrients from various soil
levels and both ground and aerial space are efficiently utilized (Eyzaguirre and Linares
2004). Control of soil erosion and soil fertility are often maximized by the presence of
trees, with fallen leaves providing natural mulching and the accumulation of humus. A
generally reduced application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides protects natural habitats
for wild flora and fauna (Daniels and Kirkpatrick 2006) and maintains high micro-
organism diversity (Birol et al. 2005a).
Inter-specific genetic diversity
Home gardens’ specific relevance for conservation purposes resides in their capacity to
represent agro-biodiversity at multiple levels (Hodgkin 2001) over small spaces. By har-
bouring species with different life cycles and domestication status—wild, semi-domesti-
cated and domesticated—which require diversified cultivation practices and serve multiple
purposes (food, fodder, medicine, fuel and fibre, ritual, or ornamental), home gardens
become living storehouses for a variety of end-products. Studies carried out in home
Biodivers Conserv
gardens of various regions have recorded notable richness of species and varieties
(Tables 1 and 2).
In terms of composition, high diversity of species with an immediate use in the
homestead is the most prominent feature of home gardens (Hoogerbrugge and Fresco
1993). Predominance of fruit trees is common, particularly when these are crucial for the
diet of household members in terms of vitamins and fibres (Mitchell and Hanstad 2004);
other edible species, wild or domesticated, are the next most represented category
(Table 2).
Home gardens are often utilized as testing plots for new crops, as nurseries for plantlets
later destined for planting in open fields and as sites for domestication of weedy forms
(Kulpa and Hanelt 1981; Leiva et al. 2001), which may also be used directly within the
household (Table 3). Minor or ‘relic’ crops never or no longer cultivated in larger
commercial fields have been found in carefully surveyed home gardens: this is the case for
lima bean in Cuba, sponge gourd in Nepal (Hodgkin 2001), Lavatera arborea L. in the
small island of Linosa off coast from Sicily (Hammer et al. 1997) and Camelina sativa
Crantz, Raphanus sativus L. var. oleiformis, Panicum miliaceum L. in Poland (Kulpa and
Hanelt 1981; Nowosielka and Podyma 2001).
Intra-specific plant genetic diversity
The predominant subsistence orientation of garden cultivation and the consequent greater
flexibility in farming practices encourages the introduction and maintenance of wild
species (Guijt et al. 1995), indigenous crops (Juma 1989) and traditional varieties
(Negri 2003; Negri and Polegri 2009). This results in significant intra-specific diversity
(Eyzaguirre and Linares 2004) which not only increases a species’ chance for adaptation
and survival over time (Soule
1987; Nunney and Campbell 1993), but also provides crucial
material for breeding (Tanksley and McCouch 1997; Feuillet et al. 2008) and for estab-
lishing, complementing or restoring germplasm collections (Castin
eiras et al. 2007).
The presence of crop wild relatives in particular allows gene exchange with the crops
themselves: natural crosses between domesticated forms and their wild or weedy relatives
still consistently occur in or around home gardens (Hammer et al. 1999) and wild germ-
plasm has often been utilized by farmers to create and improve crops, by experimenting in
back-yard gardens (Hughes et al. 2007).
Landraces in home gardens are grown either in isolation or in combination with modern
cultivars from the seed market (Table 4). Landraces are highly variable, culturally selected
populations which lack ‘formal’ crop improvement. They carry specific adaptation to the
environmental conditions where they belong and are closely associated with the people
who developed and grow them (Negri et al. 2009). A landrace’s high genetic diversity is a
defence against pests, diseases and environmental changes and makes landraces more
suitable than commercial varieties for non-industrial agricultural systems (Negri 2005).
Trees are usually found in low numbers in each garden, mostly because of their greater
demand for space: 40% of autochthonous fruit tree varieties surveyed in central Italy are
found as single individuals in single gardens (Pavia et al. 2009). This means the overall
intra-specific diversity of fruit tree species is captured by considering a series of home
gardens, each with a low number of individuals, in a given area. For other crops numbers
are different (Table 2): Italian home gardens maintain many landraces of common bean,
spp., (Hammer et al. 1986; Negri 2003), an average of 10 native potato varieties
per household have been reported in the Andean region (Brush et al. 1992), up to 10
cassava varieties are kept in Javanese gardens (Soemarwoto et al. 1975).
Biodivers Conserv
Table 2 Different garden crops surveyed in a variety of regions and number of local types within each
genus or species (landraces for most crops and individuals for fruit trees)
Genus or species N. types (landraces or
Cuba Phaseolus lunatus L. 59 (Castin
eiras et al.
Guatemala Capsicum spp. 34 (Guzma
n et al.
Pouteria sapota (Jacq.) H.E.Moore &
5 (Leiva et al. 2001)
Italy/Latium Castanea sativa Mill. 3 (Pavia et al. 2009)
Corylus avellana L. 4
Malus domestica Baumg. 38
Prunus armeniaca L. 3
Prunus avium (L.) L. 21
Prunus cerasifera Ehrh. 8
Prunus cerasus L. 4
Prunus persica (L.) Batsch 11
Pyrus communis L. 29
Punica granatum L. 3
Vitis vinifera L. 4
Italy/Carnia Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Nyman 2 (Laghetti et al.
Zea mays L. 2
Italy/Veneto Allium sativum L. 2 (Laghetti et al.
Asparagus officinalis L. 10
Castanea sativa L. 7
Juglans regia L. 2
Phaseolus spp. 4
Pisum sativum L. 3
Prunus avium (L.) L. 6
Solanum tuberosum L. 10
Italy/Sicily Alliums spp. 8 (Hammer et al.
Avena spp. 7
Beta vulgaris L. 5
Brassica spp. (including wild
Capsicum annuum L. 2
Chicorium spp. 13
Cicer arietinum L. 7
Cucurbita spp. 8
Cucumis melo
L. 4
Eruca sativa Hill 2
Foeniculum vulgare Hill 2
Hedysarum coronarium L. 2
Hordeum vulgare L. 8
Lactuca sativa L. 7
Lagenaria siceraria Standl. 7
Biodivers Conserv
Generally, numbers and identities of local cultivars and variation in morphological
characteristics within crop populations are the starting point for any assessment of the
amount of genetic diversity; measures of richness, evenness and divergence and direct
measurements of genetic variation with molecular markers contribute to a more accurate
picture. Only in rare cases have molecular measures been applied to garden-size crop pop-
ulations, although some interesting results do exist. Species richness and abundance mea-
sured in upland and lowland Mexican gardens revealed diversity indexes (Shannon-Weiner)
of 3.84 and 2.43, respectively, (Gliessman 1990a), comparable to those recorded in Costa
Rica—3.55 (Gliessman 1990b)—and India—2.44 (Eyzaguirre and Linares 2004). Molecular
analyses detected substantial diversity among landraces of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum
L.), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata cv. gr. Unguiculata (L.) Walp.), celery
(Apium graveolens L.), common and runner bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L. and P. coccineus
L.) in Italian small holdings (Negri and Tosti 2002; Tosti and Negri 2005; Tiranti and Negri
2007; Mazzucato et al. 2008; Negri et al. 2010). The high intra-specific diversity measured at
sub-population level—between landraces from different holdings—was correlated to
gardeners’ preferences and practices as well as to the small variations in ecological and
agronomic conditions. Similarly high intra-specific diversification was detected among
landraces of Lagenaria siceraria Standl. (Morimoto et al. 2006) in Kenya, mostly due to the
effect of human selection and generations of inbreeding. In the Alta Verapaz region of
Guatemala, the diversity found in populations of Capsicum spp. from home gardens was
comparable to that of samples preserved in the local gene bank, with home garden popu-
lations being richer in rare alleles and infrequent genetic variants (Guzma
n et al. 2005). This
point suggests the opportunity of using within-garden conservation of crop and tree genetic
diversity as an effective complementary measure to ex situ strategies.
Cultural and socio-economic features and their relation with plant diversity
The contribution of cultural and socioeconomic factors in generating and maintaining crop
diversity in home gardens has received little attention (Perales and Brush 2005); yet human
Table 2 continued
Country/region Genus or species N. types (landraces or individuals) Source
Lathyrus sativus L. 3
Lens culinaris Medik. 4
Lycopersicon esculentum P. Miller 4
Ocimum basilicum L. 3
Phaseolus vulgaris L. 12
Pisum sativum L. 3
Spinacia oleracea L. 2
Trigonella foenum-graecum L. 2
Triticum spp. 9
Vicia faba L. 18
Vicia sativa L. 6
Wild grasses 8
Zea mays L. 5
Scientific names follow the Index Kewensis (IK)
Biodivers Conserv
Table 3 Examples of wild or weedy species found in home gardens
Family Species Use Source
Asteracee Taraxacum officinale [Weber] Food (Vogl-Lukasser and
Vogl 2004)
Asteracee Achillea millefolium L. Medicinal
Brassicaceae Capsella bursa-pastoris Medik. Medicinal
Chenopodiaceae Chenopodium bonus-henricus
Hippocastanaceae Billia (Aesculus) Columbiana
Hedge plant
Lamiaceae Mentha arvensis L. ssp.
Spice, drink
Malvaceae Malva neglecta Wallr. Medicinal
Papaveraceae Chelidonium majus L. Medicinal
Plantaginaceae Plantago lanceolata L. Medicinal
Urticaceae Urtica dioica L. Food
Verbenaceae Duranta mutisii L.f. Hedge plant
Colombia Bignoniaceae Tecoma mollis L. Hedge plant (Mu
ller et al. 1989)
Cunoniaceae Weinmannia tomentosa L.f. Hedge plant
Gramineae Oplismenus burmannii
Soil erosion
Gramineae Panicum laxum Sw. Soil erosion
Gramineae Panicum trichoides Sw. Soil erosion
Moraceae Ficus pandurata Hort. Sand. Shade tree
Piperaceae Peperomia subspathulata
Rosaceae Hesperomeles goudotiana
(Decne.) Killip
Hedge plant
Cuba Bignoniaceae Jacaranda coerulea Auct. Shade tree (Esquivel et al. 1992)
Casuarinaceae Casuarina stricta Miq. Wind break
Compositae Eupatorium ageratifolium DC. Magic plant
Compositae Iva cheiranthifolia Kunth Medicinal
Compositae Spilanthes clava
DC. Spice,
Erythroxylceae Erythroxylum longipes
O. E. Schulz
Magic plant
Myrsinaceae Ardisia acuminata Willd. Living fences
Sapindaceae Harpullia arborea Radlk. Shade tree
Guatemala Boraginaceae Cordia dentata Vahl Food, living
(Leiva et al. 2001)
Clethraceae Clethra suaveolens Turcz. Construction
Combretaceae Bucida macrostachya Standl. Timber, fuel
Compositae Neurolaena lobata R.Br. Medicinal
Compositae Vernonia mollis Kunth Fuel
Biodivers Conserv
Table 3 continued
Family Species Use Source
Cucurbitaceae Parasicyos Dieterle spp. Soil erosion
Melastomataceae Miconia calvescens DC. Religious
Meliaceae Cedrela Mexicana M. Roem. Timber
Myrtaceae Pimenta dioica (L.) Merr. Shade
Ulmaceae Trema micrantha Blume Rope,
Boraginaceae Borago officinalis L. Food (Hammer et al.
Capparaceae Weedy Capparis spinosa, rupestris
Sibth. et Sm.
Chenopodiaceae Beta vulgaris subsp. Maritime L. Food
Compositae Cichorium intybus var. glabratum
Compositae Cichorium pumilum Jacq. Food
Compositae Lactuca saligna L. Food
Compositae Lactuca serriola L. Food
Compositae Lactuca virosa L. Food
Lamiaceae Origanum vulgare subsp. viride
Willd. ex Benth.
Lamiaceae Wild and weedy Rosmarinum
officinalis L.
Leguminosae Lupinus albus L. Food
Leguminosae Pisum sativum convar. speciousm
Linaceae Linum usitatissimum subsp.
angustifolium Huds.
Rutaceae Wild and weedy Ruta chalepensis
Umbrelliferae Weedy Apium graveolens L. Food
Umbrelliferae Wild Daucus carota L. Medicinal
Umbrelliferae Foeniculum vulgare subsp.
piperitum C.Presl
Mali Anacardiaceae Lannea microcarpa Engl. & Krause Food, dying (Kassogue et al.
Apocynaceae Saba senegalensis (A.DC.) Pichon Food, medicinal
Rhamnaceae Zizyphus Mauritania Lam. Food, medicinal,
Sapoteceae Butyrospermum parkii Kotschy Food, medicinal
Nepal Anacardiaceae Spondias pinnata Kurz Fuel wood (Shrestha et al.
Capparaceae Crateva unilocularis
Cruciferae Nasturtium officinale L. Food
Biodivers Conserv
cultures have profound influence on the diversity of the eco-systems they belong to
(Schneider 2004; Eyzaguirre 2006) and it is often people’s cultural and economic values
which explain differences even among neighbouring fields and gardens.
By spending work and leisure time in home gardens, families and communities turn
them into culturally constructed spaces (Eyzaguirre and Linares 2004) where ethnobo-
tanical knowledge is actively preserved. Customs, traditions and aesthetic preferences
are instrumental in determining the overall aspect of the garden (Birol et al. 2005a;
Smith et al. 2006): different crops or varieties are maintained because of the significance
of each in a family’s traditions or preferences—Italian gardeners insist that one has
a better taste than another or is more suited for preparing a certain time-honoured recipe
(Portis et al. 2004; Sordi et al. 2008)—or because they fulfil aesthetic requirements.
Preference for landraces also resides in their greater adaptation to the specific envi-
ronmental conditions and their capacity to guarantee stable yields also in unfavourable
years or under limiting agronomic conditions (Negri 2003; Andonov and Ivanovska
2004); a landrace’s lack of uniformity itself can be advantageous for household pro-
duction, for example by allowing a longer harvesting season if ripening is prolonged in
time (Negri 2009).
In high income societies, the majority of those involved in gardening activities (Negri
2003; Vogl-Lukasser and Vogl 2004) are elderly household members, who often remain
faithful to landraces they have inherited from prior generations; the average age of gar-
deners recorded in central Italy for instance varies between 58.9 and 70.0 years (Sordi et al.
Women are often the custodians of seeds and knowledge which they transmit to the
following generation: matrilineal transmission of home garden agro-biodiversity is
reported for potato in the Andean region (Brush 2000), for tomato in southern Italy (Silveri
2007) and for beans in northern Italy (Tonutti 2008). Introduction of and experimentation
with new species in gardens are usually an exclusive task for women and sometimes
children (Maundu 1987; Kassogue et al. 1990; Vogl-Lukasser and Vogl 2004).
The diversified, year-round supply of products from gardens is often crucial for
subsistence among the poorest and most marginalized groups in developing countries.
It can provide important opportunities for small-scale marketing (Miura et al. 2003;
Birol et al. 2005b) while the garden’s physical space itself allows development of other
Table 3 continued
Country/region Family Species Use Source
Liliaceae Aloe barbadensis Mill. Medicinal
Lorantaceae Viscum L. spp. Medicinal
Moraceae Ficus cunia Burch.-Ham. ex Roxb. Fodder
Myrtaceae Eugenia jambolana Lam. Fruit
Phytolaccaceae Phytolacca acinosa Roxb. Food
Rutaceae Xanthoxylum armatum DC. Spice
Rutaceae Aegle marmelos Corre
a Religious
Sapotacee Pouteria viridis (Pittier) Cronq. Food
Styracaceae Thysanolaena maxima Kuntze Forage
Urticaceae Boehmeria rugulosa Wedd. Fuel wood
Scientific names follow the Index Kewensis (IK)
Biodivers Conserv
Table 4 Measures of diversity for single crops grown in home gardens in different countries. More than one landrace is grown in single home gardens (home garden landrace
richness is always greater than 1) and community-level richness indicates that communities harbour a large number of landraces (from Jarvis 2008)
(Cl = 1;
In = 2,
Po = 3,
Out = 4)
(staple = 1;
staple = 2)
Crop Country Community Tot. crop area
in community
No. of
Proportion of
HGs growing
Area of
vars/HG (m
2 2 Bean Hungary De
nya 3 2 40 36 15.2 1.6 0.28 12 0.85 0.67
2 2 Bean Hungary
4 3 64 58 17.28 1.4 0.17 13 0.77 0.78
2 2 Bean Hungary Szatma
12 3 81 74 48.6 1.8 0.16 20 0.55 0.71
2 2 Beans Peru Aguaytia
390 1 97 31 2813 1.12 0.06 3.01 0.32 0.81
2 2 Beans Peru Ucayali
312 0 100 36 2800 1.19 0.08 4 0.26 0.71
2 2 Beans Peru Pichis-
160 0 100 16 3400 1.31 0.13 3 0.28 0.52
2 2 Finger
Nepal Bara 8 0 100 18 420 1.06 0.03 6 0.75 0.96
2 2 Finger
Nepal Kaski 200 0 100 146 2000 1.72 0.26 24 0.68 0.62
HG home garden; vars varieties; Cl clonal; In inbreeding; Po partially outcrossing; Oc outcrossing
Biodivers Conserv
income-generating activities such as handicraft production or blacksmithing (Mitchell and
Hanstad 2004).
Households’ socio-economic status and patterns are often reflected in the genetic
diversity of garden crops and plants, although the exact nature of the relationship is highly
variable. Significant correlation between household income and species richness indices
has been proven in China (Yongneng et al. 2006). In Nepal poor households facing more
restricted access to land manage less agro-biodiversity than relatively better off households
(Adhikari et al. 2004), confirming the idea that farmers with less rights on the land are less
willing to make long term investments and the diversity they maintain is likely to be lower
(Arnold 1987). In Eastern Europe’s transition economies, as infrastructures and market
access develop and off-farm employment opportunities increase, people tend to rely less on
their own produce and gardens’ composition and diversity are gradually simplified, with
a predominance of perennials, ornamentals and low-maintenance species (Birol et al.
2005a). Nevertheless, development of niche markets may reverse this trend and revitalize
cultivation of traditional crops or varieties, which may be commercialized as traditional
specialties and provide income opportunities to gardeners (Vasey 1985; Hoogerbrugge and
Fresco 1993; Marsh 1998; Sordi et al. 2008; Polegri and Negri 2010). More frequently
though, garden crops are maintained in cultivation because of personal affection and
commitment of single gardeners, resulting in maintenance of a greater portion of intra-
specific diversity than a market exposure permits. Indeed, on any market, consumers’
request for uniformity or competition with cheaper commercial varieties determines some
extent of standardization in the crop populations and a decrease of intra-specific and intra-
varietal diversity, as described for Sechium edule Sw. in Guatemala and for ‘Cuneo’
pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and other crops (Azurdia et al. 2001; Bravi et al. 2002;
Portis et al. 2004) in Italy.
Factors affecting the conservation of biodiversity in home gardens
In determining how home gardens can best contribute to conservation of agro-biodiversity,
all factors affecting its distribution within and across gardens, its evolution and resilience
over time need to be understood. For such purpose, one of the urgent issues facing research
on garden-based conservation is the definition of the minimum size of conservation units
which are needed to conserve viable populations of the target species. Once established,
these conservation units can be used to monitor evolutionary changes in the genetic
diversity they harbour, for example, by using molecular markers for measures of drift,
selection and gene-flow. Such information is crucial to ensure long-term conservation of
any crop (Tosti and Negri 2005; Tiranti and Negri 2007) as well as of the many associated
wild species (Goddard et al. 2009).
A home garden will seldom host more than a few hundred plants (indeed, most often it
will contain only a few individuals) even of the most important crops (Hodgkin 2001) and
the population size is highly variable depending on the species. Because of such variation
in terms of inter- and intra-specific diversity, scientists generally agree that a representative
conservation unit should include not one but a number of gardens in multiple agro-
ecological zones, thus capturing a significant representation of the overall diversity for any
given species (Brown and Marshall 1995). In planning conservation measures, the genetic
structure of home garden populations, particularly of crop landraces, should be taken into
account. Landraces in a given area often consist of a series of sub-populations distributed
across a number of gardens. Each subset interacts with others and this interaction
Biodivers Conserv
contributes to shaping the overall diversity of the landrace (Louette 2000; Tosti and Negri
2005; Tiranti and Negri 2007; Negri et al. 2010). These small-scale evolutionary processes
are influenced both by natural (breeding systems, pollination mechanisms, mutation rates)
and human factors such as introduction or displacement of varieties (Brush 2004), selection
and seed exchange.
Selection is possibly the factor that most profoundly influences the evolution of agro-
biodiversity, hence its conservation, due to its effects on population structure (Brush 2004).
Farmers’ selection is a dynamic practice which depends on many variables such as the
fields’ size, the crop, the market’s demand and may easily change depending on oppor-
tunities: farmers in Mexico seek to maintain certain traits of their maize landraces because
of traditional preferences (Louette and Smale 2000), whereas immigrants’ in Germany
select for novel traits which will adapt their native crops to the colder growing conditions
(Gladis 2001). On the small scale of the home garden, the extent and the effect of selection
are not fully understood. Nevertheless, the examples above suggest that it will not be
necessarily aimed at obtaining near identical genotypes, as occurs within breeding pro-
grammes of industrial seed producers. Seed movement and gene-flow add up to the effects
of selection in modifying garden crop diversity. More divergence may exist between
neighbouring home gardens whose owners do not exchange germplasm than between more
distant home gardens whose owners share their seeds (Guarino and Hoogendijk 2004).
Gene-flow involving wild relatives, landraces and modern varieties is facilitated by the
limited spatial separation of individuals grown in gardens. Gradual introduction of novel
variation from wild to domesticated forms of Beta (Hammer et al. 1986), Brassica (Perrino
and Hammer 1985) and Pyrus (Hammer et al. 1986) has been observed in gardens of
southern Italy.
The future of garden-based conservation and research
Changes occurring under increasing demographic and economic pressures fuel concern for
the future of traditional home gardens and the genetic reservoir they contain. The global
trend toward large-scale agriculture determines a gradual simplification of the agricultural
systems and landscapes in which crops are produced and an erosion of the sophisticated
knowledge associated to farming practices (Anderson 1993; Birol et al. 2005a).
Replacement of rural areas once used for the production of services (home gardens,
wooded areas, living fences, pastures) by monocultures has caused a depletion of local
species, primitive varieties and wild relatives (Negri 2005). Studies of species richness in
home gardens in Rupandehi and Gulmi in Western Nepal over 10–15 years recorded the
disappearance of as many as 20 crop species and declared another 11 under threat of
extinction, mainly because of changes in land use patterns and inaccessibility of local seed
(Sunwar et al. 2006). Already in the nineties, genetic erosion in landraces of garden and
small-farm crops was measured as 72.4% in Albania (between collecting missions of 1941
and 1993) and 72.8% (between 1950 and 1980) in southern Italy (Hammer et al. 1996).
‘Modern’ varieties which replace local landraces in large scale industrialized agri-
culture represent undeniable advances in breeding, offering higher yields under intensive
growing conditions with optimal availability of water and other inputs. But in many
agricultural contexts where such conditions are not met, for geographical or technical
reasons, they still perform poorly compared to adapted landraces (Ceccarelli 1996). The
latter, if they are retained at all, survive in low numbers in family farms and home gardens
and there is concern that their potential is not fully realised (Newton et al. 2010).
Biodivers Conserv
Nevertheless, there are newly emerging positive trends in home gardening, which
encourage people to maintain biodiversity in rural or urban gardens. In developing
countries, the nutritional value of local, neglected horticultural species has been assessed
and their cultivation in family gardens promoted to guarantee the intake of vitamins and
micro-nutrients (Odhav et al. 2007) aiding in the control of HIV infections and other
diseases (Callens and Gallagher 2003). Establishment of food producing gardens, often
based on local seed systems and traditional crops, in areas of explosive urbanization is
becoming an important tool for making cities more sustainable while also providing
marginal sectors of the population with working opportunities, healthier food and rein-
forcing their cultural identity (Van Veenhuizen 2006; Seck 2009).
In high-income countries the growing demand for healthier lifestyles and closer con-
nection with nature has driven a renewed interest towards sustainable agricultural systems
and ‘traditional’ food products, capable of connecting consumers to the natural and
cultural heritage of a community or a geographical region. Founded in Italy, the now
world-renowned Slow Food movement is fostering a growing social and cultural awareness
that actively promotes local, traditional foods based on local agro-biodiversity resources
and produced by small-scale farming communities. In Italy, regional governing bodies
have set up subsidies to encourage the cultivation of landraces among networks of ‘cus-
todians’’ who have preserved them so far, often in their home gardens. In other cases, local
landraces still found in home gardens have been granted official protection through
inclusion of their products in the list of specialties of the region, as was the case for the
Italian ‘Fagiolina’ bean, Vigna unguiculata (Sordi et al. 2008; Negri 2009; Polegri and
Negri 2010). Many urban citizens of the developed world have taken up some form of self-
production of food in their terraces, roofs, gardens or courtyards as well as in communal
areas shared among neighbours (Bhatt and Farah 2009; Bradley 2009). In various coun-
tries, municipalities (or other institutions such as The National Trust in the UK) assign
unused public urban space to the local population or to specific groups, most often pen-
sioners (Tei et al. 2009) or school children. Associations and NGOs play a leading role in
promoting garden agro-biodiversity by carrying out general educational activities or
actively supporting cultivation and exchange of heirloom varieties (see Table 5 for an
overview). The UK-based charity Garden Organic, with its Heritage Seed Library, coor-
dinates a number of volunteer ‘seed guardians’’, who contribute to the reproduction,
conservation and exchange of seeds from heirloom varieties.
Grassroots organizations are increasingly involved in political processes and decisions
affecting the survival of small-scale agricultural systems and their biodiversity, to an extent
that they have been instrumental in fuelling changes in European regulations and Inter-
national agreements on agricultural genetic resources. In response to long-lasting pressures
from this ‘informal’ sector, the EU recently established a separate regulation system for
seed production and marketing of ‘conservation varieties’ (EC 2008). Traditional crops
and local varieties selected and reproduced in small farms and gardens were formerly
excluded from commercialization because of their lack of distinctiveness, uniformity and
stability. The recent change in EU regulations legalized exchange and marketing of
‘traditional’’ seed and this may reduce the risk of genetic erosion, offering greater chances
for the survival of agro-biodiversity and of the small-scale production systems which
sustain it.
In 2007 a workshop organized by the On-farm Conservation Task Force of the Euro-
pean Cooperative Program on Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR) brought together rep-
resentatives from different sectors—scientists, extension agents, members of farmers’
groups, NGOs, associations—to discuss new avenues for home garden research and
Biodivers Conserv
conservation in Europe and to foster greater inter-sectoral collaboration on home garden
issues beyond the borders of developing countries. Participants agreed on the opportunity
and importance of clearly defining home gardens’ role in conservation of crop genetic
diversity by gathering more comprehensive and cross-country evidence. The experts rec-
ommended special attention be directed to some key issues, among which home gardens’
composition and patterns of intra-specific genetic diversity, particularly for landraces and
underutilized species; the stability of such diversity and its ability to respond to climate
variations and changing trends in agricultural and social models; the action and impact of
selection, drift and gene flow on the evolution and resilience of gardens’ diversity; the
extent to which the impact of these evolutionary forces in the complex garden micro-
environment is different from their effects on larger populations of other agro-ecosystems;
the indissoluble link between agro-biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Exploring the conservation potential of the many diversified home garden systems
discloses opportunities for interdisciplinary studies involving botanists, ecologists, genet-
icists, anthropologists, and sociologists. An improved understanding of the factors which
encourage or enable diversity within the domain of home gardens would allow conser-
vation scientists and communities to foster and maintain important knowledge and
Table 5 A list of institutions, NGOs, Associations or farmers’ groups actively involved in conservation
of agricultural genetic resources through small-scale farming or gardening
Country Organization Website/Email address
Austria Arche Noah
Australia Seed Savers
Canada Seeds of diversity
France Kokopelli
seau Semences Paysannes/BEDE
Georgia Elkana Biological Farming Association
Germany IG fur Gentechnikfreie Saatgutarbeit
Save Our Seeds
Hungary Ormansag Foundation
Protect the Future (HU)/Re
Italy Consorzio della Fagiolina del Trasimeno
Consorzio della Quarantina
Abruzzo Region
Lazio Region
Toscana Region
Rete Semi Rurali/AIAB
Portugal Colher Para Semear
Spain Red de Semillas/Red Andaluza de Semillas
Switzerland Pro Specie Rara
UK HDRA_The Heritage Seed Library
USA International Seed Saving Institute
Seed Savers Exchange
International Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity
Biodivers Conserv
biological resources while also preserving the wealth of services these multifunctional,
sustainable agro-ecosystems provide to nature and people.
Adhikari A, Singh D, Suwal R et al. (2004) The role of gender in the home garden management and benefit-
sharing from home gardens in different production system of Nepal. In: Gautam R, B. Sthapit, and
Shrestha P (eds) Proceedings of workshop ‘Enhancing the contribution of home garden to on-farm
management of plant genetic resources and to improve the livelihoods of Nepalese farmers: lessons
learned and policy implications’’. Bioversity international and Swiss agency for development and
cooperation (SDC), pp 84–98
Altieri MA, Merrick LC (1987) In situ conservation of crop genetic resources through maintenance of
traditional farming systems. Econ Bot 41:86–96
Anderson EN (1993) Gardens in tropical America and tropical Asia. Bio
tica Nueva Epoca 1:81–102
Andonov S, Ivanovska S (2004) Let’s protect agrobiodiversity. Ministry of Environment and Physical
Planning, Skopje, Macedonia
Arnold JEM (1987) Economic considerations in agroforestry. In: Steppler HA, Nair PKR (eds) Agrofor-
estry: a decade of development. International council for eesearch in agroforestry (ICRAF), Nairobi,
Kenya, pp 173–190
Azurdia C, Leiva M, Ayala H et al (2001) Contribution of home gardens to in situ conservation of plant
genetic resources II. Alta Verapaz case. Working document. IPGRI-USAC, Rome, Italy
Bennett-Lartey SO, Markwei C, Ayernor GS et al. (2001) Contribution of home gardens to in situ con-
servation resources in farming systems in Ghana. A report of home garden surveys in Ghana. In:
Watson JW, and Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Proceedings of the second international home garden workshop.
Bioversity international, Rome, Italy, pp 83–96
Bhatt V, Farah L (2009) Urban design for food-security: thinking globally designing locally. In: Proceedings
of the second international conference on landscape and urban horticulture. Department of agroen-
vironmental science and technology (DiSTA), Faculty of agriculture, University of Bologna, Italy, p 40
Birol E, Bela G, Smale M (2005a) The role of home gardens in promoting multi-functional agriculture in
Hungary. EuroChoices 3:14–21
Birol E, Kontoleon A, Smale M (2005b) Farmer demand for agricultural biodiversity in Hungary’s transition
economy: a choice experiment approach. In: Smale M (ed) Valuing crop biodiversity–on farm genetic
resources and economic change. CABI publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp 119–143
Bradley L (2009) Community gardening: food production in the neighborhood. In: Proceedings of the
second international conference on landscape and Urban horticulture. Department of agroenviron-
mental science and technology (DiSTA), Faculty of agriculture, University of Bologna, Italy, p 39
Bravi R, Negri V, Porfiri O (2002) La salvaguardia della biodiversita
e la produzione delle sementi di specie
ortive. Sementi Elette 4:25–29
Brown AHD, Marshall DR (1995) A basic sampling strategy: theory and practice in collecting plant genetic
diversity technical guidelines. CABI publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp 75–91
Brush S (2000) Ethnoecology, biodiversity and modernization in Andean potato agriculture. In: Minnis P
(ed) Ethnobotany a reader. University of Oklahoma Press, Oklahoma, pp 283–306
Brush S (2004) Farmers’ bounty locating crop diversity in the contemporary world. Yale University Press,
New Haven, Connecticut
Brush S, Taylor E, Bellon M (1992) Technology adoption and biological diversity in Andean potato
agriculture. J Dev Econ 39:365–387
Callens K, Gallagher KD (2003) Incorporating nutrition in farmer field schools food, nutrition and agri-
culture. Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy
eiras L, Guzma
n FA, Duque MC et al (2007) AFLPs and morphological diversity of Phaseolus
lunatus L in Cuban home gardens: approaches to recovering the lost ex situ collection. Biodivers
Conserv 16:2847–2865
CBD (1992) Convention on Biological Diversity. Secretariat of the convention on biological diversity,
United Nations environment program. Available at
Ceccarelli S (1996) Specific adaptation and breeding for marginal conditions. Euphytica 77:205–219
Coomes OT, Ban N (2004) Cultivated plant species diversity in home gardens of an Amazonian peasant
village in northeastern Peru. Econ Bot 58:420–434
Daniels GD, Kirkpatrick JB (2006) Does variation in garden characteristics influence the conservation
of birds in suburbia? Biol Conserv 133:326–335
Biodivers Conserv
Das T, Das AK (2005) Inventorying plant biodiversity in homegardens: a case study in Barak Valley,
Assam, North East India. Curr Sci 89:155–163
EC (2008) Commission Directive 2008/62/EC (20 June 2008) Official Journal of the European Union,
L 162/13
Engels J (2001) Home gardens–a genetic resource perspective. In: Watson JW, Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Pro-
ceedings of the second international home garden workshop. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy,
pp 3–9
Esquivel M, Knuepffer H, Hammer K (1992) Chapter 14. Inventory of the cultivated plants In: Hammer K,
Esquivel M, Knuepffer H (eds) Origin, evolution and diversity of Cuban plant genetic resources,
Gatersleben, Germany, pp 213–454
Eyzaguirre P (2006) Agricultural biodiversity and how human culture is shaping it. In: Cernea M, Kassam A
(eds) Researching the culture in agri-culture. CABI, Wallingford, UK, pp 264–284
Eyzaguirre P, Linares O (2004) Introduction. In: Eyzaguirre P, Linares O (eds) Home gardens and agro-
biodiversity. Smithsonian Books, Washington, pp 1–28
Eyzaguirre P, Watson J (2001) Home gardens and agrobiodiversity: an overview across regions. In:
Watson JW, Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Proceedings of the second international home garden workshop.
Bioversity international, Rome, Italy, pp 10–13
Feuillet C, Langridge P, Waugh R (2008) Cereal breeding takes a walk on the wild side. Trends Genet
Gaston KJ, Warren PH, Thompson K et al (2005) Urban domestic gardens (IV): the extent of the resource
and its associated features. Biodivers Conserv 14:3327–3349
Gladis T (2001) The neglected diversity of immigrant gardens in Germany—examples from Bonn. In:
Proceedings of the second international home garden workshop. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy
Gliessman SR (1990a) Integrating trees into agriculture: the home garden agro-ecosystem as an example of
agro-forestry in the tropics. In: Gliessman SR (ed) Agroecology: researching the ecological basis for
sustainable agriculture. Springer-Verlag, New York, pp 160–168
Gliessman SR (1990b) Understanding the basis for sustainability for agriculture in the tropics: experiences
in Latin America. In: Edwards CA, Lal R, Madden P, Miller RH, House G (eds) Sustainable agri-
cultural systems. St. Lucie Press, Delray Beach, Florida, pp 378–390
Goddard MA, Dougill AJ, Benton TG (2009) Scaling up from gardens: biodiversity conservation in urban
environments. Trends Ecol Evol 25:90–98
GSPC (2002) Global strategy for plant conservation. Secretariat of the convention on biological diversity,
United Nations environment program. Available at
Guarino L, Hoogendijk M (2004) Microenvironments. In: Eyzaguirre P, Linares O (eds) Home gardens and
agrobiodiversity. Smithsonian Books, Washington, pp 31–40
Guijt I, Hinchcliffe F, Menyk M (1995) The hidden harvest: the value of wild resources in agricultural
systems—a summary. International institute for environment and development (IIED). London (UK)
n FA, Ayala H, Azurdia C et al (2005) AFLP assessment of genetic diversity of Capsicum genetic
resources in Guatemala: home gardens as an option for conservation. Crop Sci Soc Am 45:363–370
Hammer K, Cifarelli S, Perrino P (1986) Collection of land-races of cultivated plants in South Italy, 1985.
Kulturpflanze 34:261–273
Hammer K, Knu
pffer H, Xhuveli L et al (1996) Estimating genetic erosion in landraces—two case studies.
Genet Resour Crop Evol 43:329–336
Hammer K, Laghetti G, Perrino P (1997) Proposal to make the island of Linosa/Italy as a centre for on-farm
conservation of plant genetic resources. Genet Resour Crop Evol 44:127–135
Hammer K, Laghetti G, Perrino P (1999) A checklist of the cultivated plants of Ustica (Italy). Genet Resour
Crop Evol 46:95–106
Hammer K, Arrowsmith N, Gladis T (2004) Agrobiodiversity with emphasis on plant genetic resources.
Naturwissenschaften 90:241–250
High C, Shackleton CM (2000) The comparative value of wild and domestic plants in home gardens of a
South African rural village. Agrofor Syst 48:141–156
Hodgkin T (2001) Home gardens and the maintenance of genetic diversity. In: Watson JW, Eyzaguirre PB
(eds) Proceedings of the second international home garden workshop. Bioversity international, Rome,
Italy, pp 14–18
Hoogerbrugge ID, Fresco LO (1993) Homegarden systems: agricultural characteristics and challenges
gatekeeper Series no. 39. International institute for environment and development, London, UK
Hughes CE, Govindarajulu R, Robertson A et al (2007) Serendipitous backyard hybridization and the origin
of crops. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104:14389–14394
IPGRI (1993) Diversity for development: the strategy of the international plant genetic resources institute.
International plant genetic resource institute, Rome, Italy
Biodivers Conserv
ITPGRFA (2001) International treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Food and agri-
culture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy
Juma C (1989) Biological diversity and innovation: conserving and utilizing genetic resources in Kenya.
African centre for technology studies, Nairobi, Kenya
Kassogue A, Dolo J, Ponsioen T (1990) Traditional soil and water conservation in the Dogon plateau Mali.
Dryland networks programme, Paper no. 23, London, IIED
Kulpa W, Hanelt P (1981) Activities regarding collection and evaluation of Polish landraces. Kulturpflanze
Laghetti G, Miceli F, Cifarelli S et al (2004) Collection of crop genetic resources in Italy. Plant Genet
Resour Newsl 152:82–87
Le Coeur D, Baudry J, Burel F et al (2002) Why and how we should study field boundary biodiversity in an
agrarian landscape. Agric Ecosyst Environ 89:23–40
Leiva JM, Azurdia C, Ovando W et al. (2001) Contributions of home gardens to in situ conservation in
traditional farming systems—Guatemalan component. In: Watson JW, and Eyzaguirre PB (eds)
Proceedings of the second international home gardens workshop. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy,
pp 56–72
Linares OF (1996) Cultivating biological and cultural diversity: urban farming in Casamance, Senegal.
Africa 66:104–121
Louette D (2000) Traditional management of seed and genetic diversity: what is a landrace? In: Brush SB
(ed) Genes in the field. IPGRI, Rome/IDRC. Ottawa/Lewis publishers, Boca Raton, Florida,
pp 109–142
Louette D, Smale M (2000) Farmers’ seed selection practices and traditional maize varieties in Cuzalapa,
Mexico. Euphytica 113:25–41
Marsh R (1998) Building on traditional gardening to improve household food security food, nutrition and
agriculture No. 22. Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy
Marshall EJP, Moonen AC (2002) Field margins in northern Europe: their functions and interactions with
agriculture. Agric Ecosyst Environ 89:5–21
Maundu P (1987) The importance of gathered fruits and medicinal plants in Kakyuni and Kathama areas of
Machakos. In: Wachiira KK (ed) Women’s use of off-farm and boundary lands: agroforestry poten-
tials. International Centre of Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), Nairobi, pp 56–60
Mazzucato A, Papa R, Bitocchi E et al (2008) Genetic diversity structure and marker-trait associations
in a collection of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) Italian landraces. Theor Appl Genet 116:657–669
Mitchell R, Hanstad T (2004) Small homegarden plots and sustainable livelihoods for the poor. LSP
Working paper no.11. Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy
Miura S, Osamu K, Susumu W (2003) Home gardening in urban poor communities of the Philippines. Int
J Food Sci Nutr 54:77–88
Morimoto Y, Maundu P, Kawase M et al (2006) RAPD polymorphism of the White-Flowered gourd
(Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl.) landraces and its wild relatives in Kenya. Genet Resour Crop
Evol 53:963–974
ller GK, Bohorquez A, Quintero O et al (1989) Bericht u
ber eine Reise in Kolumbien 1988 Zur
Sammlung pflanzlicher genetischer Ressourcen. Kulturpflanze 37:373–390
Negri V (2003) Landraces in central Italy: where and why they are conserved and perspectives for their on-
farm conservation. Genet Resour Crop Evol 50:871–885
Negri V (2005) Agrobiodiversity conservation in Europe: ethical issues. J Agric Environ Ethics 18:3–25
Negri V (2009) Possible incentives to home garden maintenance: comparing possibilities and raising
awareness among farmers. In: Proceedings of a workshop on crop genetic resources in European home
gardens. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy, pp 72–80
Negri V, Polegri L (2009) Genetic diversity in home gardens in Umbria a cowpea case study. In:
Proceedings of a workshop on crop genetic resources in European home gardens. Bioversity inter-
national, Rome, Italy, pp 55–61
Negri V, Tosti N (2002) Phaseolus genetic diversity maintained on-farm in central Italy. Genet Resour Crop
Evol 49:511–520
Negri V, Maxted N, Vetelainen M (2009) European landrace conservation: an introduction. In: Vetelainen
M, Negri V, Maxted N (eds) Technical Bullettin n. X. European landraces: On-farm conservation,
management and use. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy
Negri V, Castellini G, Tiranti B et al. (2010) Landraces are structured populations and should be maintained
on farm. In: Proceedings of the 18th Eucarpia genetic resources section meeting, in press
Newton AC, Akar T, Baresel JP et al (2010) Cereal landraces for sustainable agriculture. A review. Agron
Sustain Dev 30:237–269
Biodivers Conserv
ez VK (1984) Household gardens: theoretical considerations on an old survival strategy. Report No. 1
Potatoes in food systems research series. International potato research centre
Nowosielka D, Podyma W (2001) Collection missions in the territory of Poland during 1998–1999. In:
Swiecicki W, Naganowska B, Wolko B (eds) Proceedings of the Eucarpia genetic resources section
meeting: broad variation and precise characterisation. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy, pp 67–70
Nunney L, Campbell KA (1993) Assessing minimum viable population size: demography meets population
genetics. Trends Ecol Evol 8:234–239
Odhav B, Beekrum S, Akula U et al (2007) Preliminary assessment of nutritional value of traditional leafy
vegetables in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. J Food Comp Anal 20:430–435
Paoletti M (2001) Biodiversity in agroecosystems and bioindicators of environmental health. In: Shiyomi M,
Koizumi H (eds) Structure and function in agroecosystems design and management advances in
agroecology. CRC press, Boca Raton, Florida, pp 11–44
Pavia R, Barbagiovanni I, Strada GD et al. (2009) Autochthonous fruit tree germplasm at risk of genetic
erosion found in home gardens in the region of Latium (Italy). In: Proceedings of a workshop on crop
genetic resources in European home gardens. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy
Perales HR, Brush SB (2005) Maize diversity and ethnolinguistic diversity in Chiapas, Mexico. Proc Natl
Acad Sci 102:949–954
Perrino P, Hammer K (1985) Collection of landraces of cultivated plants in South Italy 1984. Kulturpflanze
Polegri L, Negri V (2010) Molecular markers for promoting agro-biodiversity conservation: a case study
from Italy. How cowpea landraces were saved from extinction. Genet Resour Crop Evol 57:867–880
Portis E, Acquadro A, Comino C et al (2004) Effect of farmers’ seed selection on genetic variation of
a landrace population of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) grown in North-West Italy. Genet Resour Crop
Evol 51:581–590
Quiroz C, Gutie
rrez M, Rodrı
guez D et al. (2001) Home gardens and in situ conservation of agrobiodi-
versity—Venezuelan component. In: Watson JW, and Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Proceedings of the second
international home garden workshop. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy
Schneider J (2004) Toward an analysis of home garden cultures. On the use of sociocultural variables in
home garden studies. In: Eyzaguirre PB, Linares O (eds) Home gardens and agrobiodiversity.
Smithsonian books, Washington, pp 41–55
Seck M (2009) Io mangio Wolof. SlowFood 43:42–44
Seeth HT, Chachnov S, Surinov A (1998) Russian poverty: muddling through economic transition with
garden plots. World Dev 26:1611–1623
Shrestha P, Gautam R, Rana RB et al (2001) Home gardens in Nepal: status and scope for research and
development. In: Watson JW, Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Proceedings of the second international home
garden workshop. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy, pp 105–118
Silveri D (2007) Regional Government of Abruzzo Region, Italy. Personal communication
Smith RM, Thompson K, Hodgson JG et al (2006) Urban domestic gardens (IX): composition and richness
of the vascular plant flora, and implications for native biodiversity. Biol Conserv 129:312–322
Soemarwoto O, Soemarwoto I, Karyono et al. (1975) The Javanese home garden as an integrated ecosystem.
Proceedings of an International congress on the human environment. Science council of Japan, Kyoto,
Japan: 193-197
Sommers P (1978) Traditional home gardens of selected Philippine households and their potential for
improving human nutrition. Master thesis. University of the Philippines, Los Banos, The Philippines
Sordi M, Polegri L, Negri V (2008) Biodiversita
di interesse agrario nel comprensorio del Lago Trasimeno.
University of Perugia/Trasimeno Lake Regional park, Italy. ISBN: 88-87652-13-9-978-88-87652-13-
0-3736-203987, also available at
ME (1987) Viable Populations for Conservation. Cambridge University press, Cambridge, UK
Stoler A (1975) Garden use and household consumption pattern in a Javanese village PhD thesis. Depart-
ment of anthropology, Columbia University, New York
Sunwar S, Thornstro
m CG, Subedi A et al (2006) Home gardens in western Nepal: opportunities and
challenges for on-farm management of agrobiodiversity. J Biodiver Conserv 15:4211–4238
Tanksley SD, McCouch SR (1997) Seed banks and molecular maps: unlocking genetic potential from the
wild. Science 277:1063–1066
Tei F, Benincasa P, Farneselli M et al. (2009) Allotment gardens for senior citizens in Italy: current status
and technical proposals. Proceedings of the second international conference on landscape and urban
horticulture. Department of agroenvironmental science and technology (DiSTA), Faculty of agricul-
ture, University of Bologna, Italy: 41
Tilman D (1999) Global environmental impacts of agricultural expansion: the need for sustainable and
efficient practices. Proc Natl Acad Sci 96:1857–1861
Biodivers Conserv
Tilman D (2000) Causes, consequences and ethics of biodiversity. Nature 405:208–211
Tiranti B, Negri V (2007) Selective micro-environmental effects play a role in shaping genetic diversity and
structure in a Phaseolus vulgaris L. landrace: implications for on-farm conservation. Molecular
Ecology 16:4942–4955
Tonutti S (2008) Vecchie varieta
: tradizione, passione e cura. In: Miceli F, Costantini E (eds) La biodiversita
coltivata, Storie di persone, piante e agricoltura tradizionale tra Friuli e Carinzia. Editrice Universitaria
Udinese, Udine, Italy, pp 153–163
Tosti N, Negri V (2005) On-going on-farm microevolutionary processes in neighbouring cowpea landraces
revealed by molecular markers. Theor Appl Genet 110:1275–1283
Trinh LN, Hue NN, De NN et al (2001) Role of home gardens in the conservation of plant genetic resources
in Vietnam. In: Watson JW, Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Proceedings of the second international home garden
workshop. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy, pp 97–104
Van Veenhuizen R (2006) Introduction. In: Van Veenhuizen R (ed) Cities farming for the future—urban
agriculture for green and productive cities. RUAF Foundation, International development research
centre (IDRC) and international institute of rural reconstruction (IIRR), The Philippines, pp 1–17
Vasey DE (1985) Household gardens and their niche in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Food Nut
Bulletin 7:37–47
Viljoen A, Bohn K, Tomkins M et al. (2009) Places for people, places for plants: evolving thoughts on
continuous productive urban landscapes. Proceedings of the second international conference on
landscape and urban horticulture. Department of agroenvironmental science and technology (DiSTA),
Faculty of agriculture, University of Bologna, Italy: 38
Vogl-Lukasser B, Vogl C (2004) Ethnobotanical research in homegardens of small farmers in the alpine
region of Osttirol (Austria): an example for bridges built and building bridges. Ethnobotany Res Appl
Yongneng F, Huijun G, Aiguo C et al (2006) Household differentiation and on-farm conservation of
biodiversity by indigenous households in Xishuangbanna, China. Biodivers Conserv 15:2687–2703
Biodivers Conserv
... Winter & McClatchey, 2009) . Then, I use Taíno culture and insight from the pre-colonial Taíno social-environmental system to discuss the shortcomings of food sovereignty, at least in its current conception, and delve into the other aspects of material and social sovereignty (Altieri & Toledo, 2011;Brears, 2018;Buchmann, 2009;Dresang et al., 2005;Galluzzi et al., 2010;Ghisellini et al., 2016;Gürcan, 2014;Holt Giménez & Shattuck, 2011;Méndez et al., 2016) . I build on this to explore what Taíno culture illuminates in regards to how relationships can change culture and build sovereignty, as well as the various sociopolitical barriers to be faced in the charge towards sovereignty for Puerto Rico (Boggs, 2012;Chambers-Letson, 2018;Davis, 2003;Hunt & Holmes, 2015;Kimmerer, 2013;Samudzi & Anderson, 2018;Schenwar et al., 2016;Tuck & Yang, 2012) . ...
... Smith et al., 2016;Ventura & Bailkey, 2017;Williams & Holt-Giménez, 2017) . This can be through establishing homegardens on private lots and communal gardens on public lands and vacant parcels, establishing green roofs and green walls, and a number of other strategies to fit as much foliage, and bioculturally pertinent foliage at that, into otherwise concrete urban centers (Buchmann, 2009;Carpenter & Rosenthal, 2011;Cederlöf, 2016;del Mar López et al., 2001;Freehill-Maye, 2018;Galluzzi et al., 2010;González-Jácome, 2016;Klinenberg, 2016;Pothukuchi & Kaufman, 1999;Ventura & Bailkey, 2017;Williams & Holt-Giménez, 2017) . I also personally advocate for filling our own homes with as much vegetation as possible -in my own apartment, even with its minimal direct sunlight and ripping cross-breeze, I have been able to raise dozens of species of plants, most having a use, whether they be tomatoes and green onion for food, ginger and lemongrass for medicine, or ti leaf and fern for making lei. ...
... That said, cultivating the lands, in urban and rural settings, will require a balancing of meeting human needs and restoring the lands themselves. Although this balancing act is contentious within the literature, there are two key strategies to achieve these goals without one compromising the other: 1) Focusing on maximizing on-site biodiversity would not only promote environmental resilience within the area but also provides spillover benefits for the surrounding environment (Galluzzi et al., 2010;L. A. Garibaldi et al., 2017;González-Jácome, 2016;Jackson et al., 2007;Thrupp, 2000;Wood & Lenné, 1999) . ...
Full-text available
Puerto Rico’s food systems are dangerously precarious, with the islands importing about 90% of its food, a consequence of five centuries of colonialism prioritizing foreign profit over local welfare. Particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, though, there has been a swelling movement towards food sovereignty on the islands, often aligned with overlapping movements towards the resurgence of Taíno identity and culture. Bringing these movements together, this dissertation focuses on Taíno social-environmental systems, using the recorded Taíno language as the primary vantage point in order to understand the dynamics of pre-colonial social-environmental systems on the islands, the cultures that shaped such systems, and how that can guide us to food and material sovereignty on the islands. This dissertation is grounded in a decolonial research methodology, which I develop and provide as a generalized framework such that other researchers can make use of it as well. Delving into Taíno ecolinguistic ontologies – or the worldviews and relations revealed by the nexus between language and the environment – demonstrates a high degree of naming multiplicity in the Taíno lexicon, particularly for plants and animals with which there was greater intimacy in Taíno cultures. Additionally, redundancy was a prominent feature in pre-colonial Taíno bicultural systems, contributing to socioecological resilience, although there were several categories, especially related to spiritual functions, for which certain biota are simply irreplaceable. Although there are numerous critical barriers obstructing food and material sovereignty for Puerto Rico, the lessons gleaned from Taíno culture, particularly Taíno ecolinguistic ontologies and pre-colonial social-environmental systems, indicate several promising opportunities for cultivating sovereignty: research towards decolonization, mass (re)education, land reclamation, land cultivation & restoration, establishing constellations of care, and building a Pan-Caribbean coalition.
... Yet, despite their central and continued importance to feed families and contribute to their livelihoods, and their critical role in conserving important tree genetic resources in the region, home gardens in Central Asia have been thinly documented in the English-language scientific literature. The main scientific reviews of these management systems (e.g., [20,21]) are dated, and do not incorporate studies from this region. Moreover, the literature on home gardens has a privileged focus on cultivated species other than trees (e.g. ...
... Home gardens reflect a close interaction between human cultures and nature. Within these systems, humans carve diversified niches for different plants to grow in small multi-functional and complex structures [21]. The composition and structure of home gardens are dynamic and influenced by the socioeconomic circumstances and cultural background of the households that manage them [23]. ...
Full-text available
Central Asia is an important center of origin for many globally valued fruit and nut tree species. Forest degradation and deforestation are cause for concern for the conservation of these valuable species, now confined to small remnant populations. Home gardens have the important function of sustaining household food consumption and income generation, and can potentially play a critical role in conserving diversity of fruit and nut trees. These systems have been very poorly documented in the scientific literature. This study contributes to filling this gap by describing the diversity of fruit and nut trees in home gardens of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, examining their dynamic flow of planting material and its sources, understanding their future prospects, and looking at significant differences between the three countries. Home gardens show a similar portfolio of the most abundant tree species (apple, apricot, walnut, pear, and plum). Although the diversity of tree species and varieties recorded is significant, small population sizes can limit future possibilities for this diversity to thrive, given the pressure on natural stands and on habitats where the preferred species are found. Furthermore, the selection of species and varieties to be planted in home gardens is increasingly influenced by market opportunities and availability of exotic material. Some of the most abundant tree species recorded are represented largely by exotic varieties (apple, pear), while others (e.g., apricot, walnut, plum) are still mainly characterized by traditional local varieties that are not formally registered. Home gardens continue to play a critical role in rural livelihoods and in national economies, and many rural inhabitants still aspire to maintain them. Thus, home gardens should be integrated in national research and extension systems and closely linked to national conservation efforts. Changes and possible declines in the diversity they host, their health status, and resilience should be carefully monitored.
... Better market access, as well as greater public promotion of homegardens, encourages their adoption, but only in more water-abundant ecologies [12]. According to Galluzzi et al. [13], homegardens, whether in rural or in urban settings, are multifunctional, allowing them to provide a variety of advantages to ecosystems and people. ...
... Farmers' seed and crop management decisions, as well as adjacent modes of living, are shaped by cultural traditions [12]. At the same time, homegardens are important social and cultural sites where agricultural expertise is passed along [13]. Homegardens also have great social and cultural values in several regions of the world [21]. ...
... Better market access, as well as greater public promotion of homegardens, encourages their adoption, but only in more water-abundant ecologies [12]. According to Galluzzi et al. [13], homegardens, whether in rural or in urban settings, are multifunctional, allowing them to provide a variety of advantages to ecosystems and people. ...
... Farmers' seed and crop management decisions, as well as adjacent modes of living, are shaped by cultural traditions [12]. At the same time, homegardens are important social and cultural sites where agricultural expertise is passed along [13]. Homegardens also have great social and cultural values in several regions of the world [21]. ...
Full-text available
Background: Homegardens in Northern Ethiopia received little investigation into the diversity of plants and no study and recording in the Gozamin District. This study was used to fill the gap in how cultural use and cultural importance conserve species diversity in homegardens in the different agroclimatic zones in northwestern Ethiopia. Methods: The study district and 12 kebeles were chosen using multistage and stratified random selection procedures based on traditional agroclimatic zones in the Gozamin District, Northwest Ethiopia, respectively. The number of plots chosen in each homegarden was determined by the homegarden's size, which ranges from 0.015 to 0.5 ha. These data were gathered by putting plots with a distance gradient from home (size: 10 × 10 m each). A semi-structured interview and complete plant inventory were conducted to document the informant's knowledge of plant species. Sørensen's similarity indices and Shannon-Wiener diversity indices were used to compare the similarity of sites and three agroclimatic zones, respectively. Direct matrix ranking, cultural importance (CI), the relative frequency of citation, and cultural value were used in quantitative analysis to compare the most common multipurpose plants. Results: A total of 238 culturally important plant species from 81 families were identified. The Kruskal-Wallis test showed that there was a significant difference among the three agroclimatic zones species diversity (H = 103.4, Hc = 111.2, p < 0.05). Of the total plant species recorded, 59% were reported to be utilized for environmental uses, 35% were food crops, and 35% were medicinal plant species. The same was true for the three agroclimatic zones; food and medicinal uses were the first and second most important use categories, respectively. The similarity index for 64% of the sites investigated was less than 0.5. Cordia africana (FC = 125) was the most culturally significant species with a value of 2.23 on the CI index. Conclusion: Homegardens are multifunctional systems. The presence of different agroclimatic zones, cultural uses, cultural importance, and cultural value of the species are central to conserving plant species in the area. As the size of the garden increases, so does the diversity of species and uses. Our findings suggest that conservation strategies should take into account the links between plant composition and cultural importance.
... The research that has succeeded in identifying the function of the home garden ecologically, such as the home garden as a reservoir of plant diversity (Caballero-Serrano et al., 2016;Chatterjee et al., 2017;Gbedomon et al., 2017), especially traditional food crops (Galluzzi et al., 2010), non-timber forest products (Mohri et al., 2013), shade plants, and ornamental plants (Abebe et al., 2010), increased food diversity and family nutrition (van der Stege et al., 2010;Caballero-Serrano et al., 2019;Thamilini et al., 2019), such as fruit crops, vegetables (Mohri et al., 2013;Ali, et al., 2021), medicinal plants (Abebe et al., 2010), spice plants, and starch-producing plants (Arifin et al., 2012). ...
Full-text available
Pekarangan is a typical Indonesian home garden. This article aimed to look at biophysical conditions of pekarangan between Sundanese migrants and non-migrants. A total of 40 pekarangans in Selajambe and Ciomas Rahayu villages, West Java, were chosen as representative locations for the Sundanese non-migrant population (native Sundanese), and 40 pekarangans in Tegal Yoso and Tanjung Kesuma villages, Lampung, were chosen as representatives of the Sundanese migrant population. Research has been carried out in the period 2019–2021. To measure the biophysical conditions of pekarangans , we analyzed the pekarangan area, pekarangan size, number of species and individual of pekarangan plants, vertical diversity and horizontal diversity of plants, and the relationship between the pekarangan area and number of species and individual plants. The results showed that the difference in conditions of the pekarangan was indicated by the difference in the area and size but not by the diversity of the plants. Both types of pekarangans have the same level of diversity, as indicated by the number of individual plants that are almost the same in number per 100 m ² . In addition, a strong and positive correlation (0.69–0.88) between the area of pekarangan and the number of individual plants indicated that the small to medium size or large pekarangan sizes had almost the same diversity of plants. The difference lied in the type of plant that is cultivated. Migrant pekarangans are dominant in cultivating food crops, while non-migrant pekarangans are dominant in cultivating ornamental plants. The selection of plants that have important and valuable functions can be a solution in maintaining the area of the pekarangan . Choosing plants with a variety of functions can be an option for a small to medium pekarangan size. To improve the biophysical conditions of the pekarangan was also inseparable from the involvement of economic, social, and cultural aspects in the pekarangan .
... Traditionally, consumed plants that have two or more other applications and are relatively easy to grow would possibly attract more attention even from unexperienced gardeners, which would contribute to the broadening of the impact of home gardens for the safeguarding of local plant diversity [80][81][82]. In the current study, single use was mostly a signifier for recent introduction of taxa into the gardens (e.g., ornamental varieties) or of outdated practices such as the preparation of brooms from the herbage of Marrubium peregrinum. ...
Full-text available
Lamiaceae comprises widely distributed medicinal and aromatic plants, many of which are traditionally used in European countries. The current study aimed to document Lamiaceae taxa used in rural Bulgaria (Southeast Europe) and to explore the related local knowledge and cultural practices that influence their utilization for various purposes. Field work included inventory of Lamiaceae diversity in home gardens and semi-structured interviews focused on the cultivation, collection, and utilization practices common among elderly inhabitants of 34 settlements in rural Bulgaria. We report the utilization of 27 Lamiaceae taxa, 9 of which were collected from the wild. Traditional and contemporary ways of utilizing Lamiaceae taxa as culinary and medicinal plants, in herbal teas, as repellents, ritual plants, etc., are presented. Recent knowledge on medicinal properties contributed to the introduction of new taxa in gardens (wild and cultivated), while traditional culinary practices were found to sustain the diversity of local forms (landraces).
... Home gardens, a type of agroforestry system that is rich in tree and plant diversity, have been reported to conserve inter-and intra-specific tree diversity; traditional varieties and landraces of crops and their wild relatives. Besides this, they also conserve endangered medicinal and aromatic plants (Hammer et al., 1999;Galluzzi et al., 2010). Therefore, in times of climate change, tree-based land-use systems can prove a boon for biodiversity conservation to sustain proper functioning of our ecosystems and to ensure food and nutrition security. ...
At present, climate change is a global issue which is impacting the agricultural and livestock productivity negatively. It is causing further expansion of degraded land and leading to mass extinction of species, pollution and serious health issues in human beings. It is time to focus on ecologically and economically viable mitigation and adaptation options for combating climate change. Forests and tree-based land-use systems are viable options owing to their huge capacity to mitigate climate change via storing huge chunks of atmospheric carbon dioxide in their long-lasting biomass and soil carbon pool. Further, their capacity to conserve soil, water and biodiversity, restore degraded land, sustain soil fertility and meet the rising demands of various wood and non-wood products makes them as also their surrounding agro-ecosystems less vulnerable and more resilient to climate change. Therefore, local government, policy makers and research institutions must focus on increasing the area under forest and tree cover by promoting forest conservation; agro-forestry-based land-use practices and raising forest as well as tree plantations on wastelands and community lands under various agro-climatic zones. Involvement of local people is very crucial in achieving the goal of increased forest and tree cover. Thus, they should be involved actively in raising, managing and conserving the forests as well as in maintenance of tree-based land-use systems. Further, payment of ecosystem services should be ensured as an incentive to the people involved.
... Thus, seed dispersal of C. annuum var. glabriusculum may be the most important agent for gene flow, which we expect to be facilitated in the context of small-plot milpa and backyard production systems where associated agrobiodiversity includes trees and shrubs, ideal for bird perching (Perfecto et al., 2009;Galluzzi et al., 2010). ...
Premise: Capsicum annuum (Solanaceae) was originally domesticated in Mexico, where wild (C. annuum var. glabriusculum) and cultivated (C. annuum var. annuum) chile pepper populations (> 60 landraces) are common; additionally wild-resembling individuals (hereafter semiwild) grow spontaneously in anthropogenic environments. Here we analyze the role of elevation and domestication gradients in shaping the genetic diversity in C. annuum from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Methods: We collected samples of 341 individuals from 28 populations, corresponding to wild, semiwild (C. annuum var. glabriusculum) and cultivated C. annuum, and closely related species Capsicum frutescens and C. chinense. From the genetic variation of 10 simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci we assessed the population genetic structure, inbreeding and gene flow through variance distribution analyses, genetic clustering and connectivity estimations. Results: Genetic diversity (HE ) did not differ across domestication levels. However, inbreeding coefficients were higher in semiwild and cultivated chiles than in wild populations. We found evidence for gene flow between wild populations and cultivated landraces along the coast. Genetic structure analysis revealed strong differentiation between most highland and lowland landraces. Conclusions: Gene flow between wild and domesticated populations may be mediated by backyards and small-holder farms, while mating systems may facilitate gene flow between landraces and semiwild populations. Domestication and elevation may overlap in their influence on genetic differentiation. Lowland Gui'ña dani clustered with highland landraces perhaps due to social history of Zapotec peoples. In situ conservation may play an important role in preserving semiwild populations, and private alleles found in landraces. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Cultivation along the riverbank reflects an array of intricate practices, such as successional sowing that allows for continually harvestable crops, and various modes of intercropping. The persistence of local crop cultivars in riverbank areas for home use is reminiscent of the importance of homegardens as reservoirs of diversity (Galluzzi et al. 2010). ...
Full-text available
Agricultural practices in northern Sudan have been changing rapidly but remain little documented. In this paper we aim to investigate changes to crops grown in living memory and their uses through interviews with Nubian farmers on the island of Ernetta. By exploring cultivation and crop processing practices, together with associated material culture and foodstuffs, we also seek to explore how agricultural and food heritage are connected, and to better understand reasons for crop changes. Several cereals and pulses that were previously important subsistence crops are now grown as comparatively minor crops. The replacement of the sagia (waterwheel) by diesel pump irrigation, the introduction of commercial crops, and the reduction of the annual flood have led to fundamentally new cropping patterns within household farms. At the same time, each species has its own narrative and timing of change. Shifts in crops grown are paralleled by transitions in foodways, associated material culture, and land use. The project is timely, as much of the information about past crop uses resides in the memories of elderly farmers. The findings highlight the broader global need to document endangered memories of cropping patterns, traditional ecological and food knowledge, including local terms for foods and crops.
Full-text available
During the COVID-19 pandemic urban gardening became popular across the globe. Leafy vegetables supplement the daily diet and contribute to consumers health. Within the last decade kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica L.) gained popularity in urban gardening. However, shading due to unfavourable cardinal directions may reduce plant growth and accumulation of health-promoting secondary plant metabolites such as polyphenols, carotenoids and glucosinolates in kale. We compared authentic urban gardening conditions for kale grown in all four cardinal directions of a residential building. The overall concentration of carotenoids did benefit from sun exposed growing locations, including indoor cultivation behind UV light filtering glass windows, while concentrations of nutritionally important lutein did not differ among the locations and their altered growth conditions regarding abiotic stressors such as sun exposure, temperature, and water consumption. Total concentration of phenolics profited the most from direct sunlight but is severely reduced behind glass windows. Overall, satisfying growth rates of kale were achieved under all applied conditions, encouraging outdoor urban gardening with kale plants even in shaded locations.
The use of biodiversity as a tool to assess landscape structure, transformation, and fate is a valid component of policies applied to rural, managed, industrial, and urbanized areas to reduce human mismanagement and alleviate pollution (Wilson, 1997). The argument for the importance of biodiversity in directing environmental policy presupposes that animals, plants, and microorganisms and their complex interactions respond to human landscape management and impacts in different ways, with some organisms responding more quickly and definitively than others. It has to be assumed that changes in landscape management influence the biota, and that certain transient or permanent signs remain inside the system of biological communities (Richardson, 1987; Szaro and Johnston, 1996; Jeffrey and Madden, 1991; Paoletti and Pimentel, 1992). This assumption is supported by three recent books summarizing current data on insects as indicators of pollution and environmental change (Harrington and Stork, 1995; Munawar et al., 1995; and Paoletti, 1999). However, much work is needed to directly relate this assumption to the pragmatic problems encountered as attempts are made to improve the living landscape.
While it is commonly acknowledged that the ecosystemic, and the inter- and intra-specific diversity of “natural” life is under threat of being irremediably lost, there is much less awareness that the diversity in agro-ecosystems is also under threat. This paper is focused on the biodiverse agro-ecosystems generated by landraces (LRs), i.e., farmer-developed populations of cultivated species that show among- and within-population diversity and are linked to traditional cultures. The aim of this work is to arouse concern about their loss, to explain how they can be conserved, and to discuss values that support maintaining and/or restoring on-farm agro-biodiversity. Although agriculture has relied on biodiverse agro-ecosystems for millennia, most of them have disappeared or are disappearing due to profound transformations in the socio-economic context. This is discussed with particular reference to the European situation. The positive values of LRs and LR systems that support their conservation are discussed along with possible objections. The conservation of LRs and LR systems can be well justified on ethical grounds. In particular, the complex intertwining of the biological and cultural contexts of LR systems, which continuously creates new adaptive responses to the changing socio-economic and eco-physical processes, is a value that strongly motivates conservation, particularly when the needs of future generations are considered.
Domestic (ȁ8privateȁ9) gardens constitute a substantial proportion of ȁ8green spaceȁ9 in urban areas and hence are of potential significance for the maintenance of biodiversity in such areas. However, the size and nature of this resource and its associated features are poorly known. In this study, we provide the first detailed audit, using domestic gardens in the city of Sheffield as a model study system. Domestic gardens, the mean area of which was 151 m2, cover approximately 33 km2 or 23% of the predominantly urban area of the city. The smaller gardens contribute disproportionately to this total because, although individually they add little, they are large in number. Conversely, the regions of the city with proportionately more garden area contribute most to the total garden area of the city, although such regions are limited in number. Based on the findings of a telephone based survey, 14.4% of dwellings with gardens were estimated to have ponds, 26% to have nest-boxes, 29% to have compost heaps, 48% to hold trees more than 3 m tall, and 14% of dwellings were estimated to be home to one or more cats. Whilst the absolute frequency of these features is low to moderate, by extrapolation they nonetheless yield estimates for domestic gardens in Sheffield of a total of 25,200 ponds, 45,500 nest boxes, 50,750 compost heaps, 360,000 trees, and a population of 52,000 domestic cats. These results are considered in the context of the role of gardens in urban areas as habitats for wildlife and the implications for housing policy.
The diversification of agroecosystems with the incorporation of trees is a practice that has a lengthy history. This is especially true in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world where farmers have long planted trees with other agricultural crops and incorporated animals to help provide for the basic needs of food, wood products, and fodder, and to help conserve and protect their often limited resources (Nair, 1983). In the past decade, particular interest has developed in the many variations of this practice, and with it, an awareness of the unique productive and protective value of trees in agricultural systems (Felker and Bandurski, 1979; McDaniels and Lieberman, 1979; Getahun et al., 1982; Nair, 1983; Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), 1986).
This chapter relates economic development and transition with farmer demand for four components of agricultural biodiversity found on family farms in Hungary using a combination of a stated preference approach and secondary data. Family farms in Hungary are known traditionally as 'home gardens'. Production on these farms is labour-intensive, with few purchased inputs. High levels of crop and variety diversity, and integrated crop and livestock production, are typical of home gardens. It is hypothesized that farmers' demand for home gardens will decrease as Hungary's economic transition proceeds and local, regional and national markets are integrated with European Union (EU) accession. This hypothesis is tested with a choice experiment conducted across 22 settlements in three regions with varying levels of economic development and market integration. Findings indicate that farmers in more economically developed, less isolated settlements will choose to depend less on home gardens for food security and will prefer lower levels of agricultural biodiversity. These results suggest that a vital cultural institution may disappear with EU accession. Data can be used to identify the settlements and farmers who would benefit most by agri-environmental policies that support their maintenance, at least public cost. In some situations, supporting their maintenance is consistent with the multifunctional agriculture approach stated in the EU's reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The findings of this chapter complement those of the revealed preference analysis presented in Chapter 8 and the institutional analysis shown in Chapter 15, conducted in the same sites.
Biological diversity is as crucial in agriculture as it is in nature, and it is equally important to the economic health of both industrial and nonindustrial societies. This book offers a sweeping assessment of crop diversity and the potential for its preservation. Stephen B. Brush develops a framework for investigating biological diversity in agriculture that focuses on the knowledge and practice of farmers, and he shows how this human ecology perspective can be applied to three global issues that affect crop resources. Brush defines the dimensions of crop diversity and outlines the essential questions surrounding it. He describes the techniques used to maintain diversity in major crops of three cradles of agriculture in which he has worked: Potatoes in the Peruvian Andes, maize in Mexico, and wheat in Turkey. Finally, he explores the policy issues surrounding genetic erosion of crop varieties, conservation of crop diversity, and ownership of genetic resources.