The Application of a Home Garden Livelihood Model to Allotment Gardens

The home garden model is based on the assumption that home gardening is a process that forms part of the household livelihood strategy. Household livelihood security is defined as adequate and sustainable access to income and resources to meet basic needs (including adequate access to food, potable water, health facilities, educational opportunities, housing, time for community participation and social integration).

The model implies that the household decision to get involved in gardening depends on factors such as the existence of a supportive general environment, access to land and water resources, and the availability of specific assets (seeds, knowledge, work and time). The model also identifies household vulnerability factors that either stimulate or inhibit household involvement in subsistence food production. The risk of livelihood failure determines the level of vulnerability of a household to income, food, health and nutritional insecurity

If we apply the home garden model to allotment gardens, it is evident, that the two systems are similar regarding access to resources, assets, activities and outcomes. However, the arena of decision-making becomes more complex. Essentially, we need to “nest” the individual family as a decision maker within the allotment association as the decision broker. The “black box” in the lower part of the model, which represents the decision making process (e.g. on what to grow, when to grow, where to grow, etc.), thus, should appear as a nested pentagram. In practice the entire decision-making process becomes more transparent and probably more standardized in the case of allotment gardens because individual family decisions are now directly guided and influenced by the association in a more public forum. Assets and activities can be better shared in allotment gardens and the transcendent outcomes are eventually more visible, mainly regarding community empowerment, social peace and status, and economic power. In this sense we do not consider individual parcels in allotment gardens as independent farming systems in the way that home gardens are.