In 2019, students from University of California, Berkeley and MMU teamed with RCRA to conduct research on the nutritional and welfare benefits of vegetable gardening in Kasese District, conducting surveys, an innovative card sorting game, a nutritional recall survey, key informant interviews and case stories with 50 randomly selected households. Details of the study were published in the African Journal for Agriculture, Food, Nutrition and Development. The findings and recommendations from this study led to 1,000 Women’s Gardens for Health and Nutrition, in-line with the goal of RCRA to center its support for vulnerable families in Kasese District around sustainable livelihoods, women’s empowerment, and meeting family nutritional and health needs.
All along the way, women gardeners are supported and trained by the lead project coordinator and agronomist, with two part-time assistants, and the facilitative support of the RCRA Executive Director and the Senior Technical Advisor. She recently completed an intensive horticulture course from Wageningen University. In addition to individual visits to distribute inputs (e.g. seeds, watering cans, liquid neem) and support establishing and monitoring the vegetable nurseries and gardens, she conducts group trainings on such key topics as: raised beds, composting and mulching, and pest and disease management.
Families are shown harvesting their garden crops for home consumption and sale such as the cabbages, tomatoes, Eggplants and pumpkins seen in the photos below, as well as year-round dodo and sukuma wiki. In September- October of 2022, we will begin conducting short surveys to learn systematically about changes in family vegetable consumption, especially among children and pregnant and lactating mothers, as well as income generated from garden sales, and uses of the money. We will then have a better handle on the full range of health and welfare gains for gardening families, including improved knowledge, self-confidence, and opportunities for peer socialization. Men are joining women in some of the trainings and garden work, which bodes well for sustained participation by women and reduced domestic tensions arising from lack of money and food insecurity in the household.
Looking Forward: Phase 3 and Beyond
A Growing Team
Testimonials from Gardeners and their Families
I am from Kyabarungira Sub-County, Kasese District.I look after six children in my house. How I came to know about the 1,000 Women’s Gardens, it was in March 2021, through Doreen.
She came and told us how to plant seeds on raised beds, which I have already learned and I thank her very much. I have learned another skill through her that is plant spacing, when I am planting my seedlings, I use a proper space, and we have also learned how to manage our plants.
Through trainings, we have also improved on planting vegetables in our kitchen gardens. So, we have reduced on buying vegetables from the market. We are hoping to get seeds after the harvest, so we dry our seeds ready to plant for the next season.
I’m a younger mother age 17 from Hima sub-county, Kasese District. I dropped out of school getting pregnant and I was in senior 3. Now I have a baby age 2 years.
I came to know about 1,000 Women’s Gardens through Doreen and extension workers of RCRA. I have learned good agronomic practices….planting on raised beds, proper spacing, and how to maintain a nursery bed.
I have also learned that through kitchen gardening one can learn how to reduce expenditures on vegetables. Through trainings, and with the help of the extension workers I’m hoping to harvest plenty and sell the surplus. This will help me get some money to care and cater for my young baby. I have learned to socialize and share with other young mothers; indeed, we share and get solutions to our challenges…especially on how to care for our children. For this, I thank RCRA for their mobilization.
I live in Maliba sub-county. I have 19 years and I’m having two children. In order to take care of my children, I sometimes I go in people’s farms and dig for them to make money and buy them food.
The little money that I earn is not enough to take care of me and my children, since their father cannot, and my parents cannot either. In July 2021, Doreen, and extension workers with RCRA, came to our village to encourage the young mothers to go for kitchen gardening, so when they came to me, I looked into it and saw it was a good program for me. From kitchen gardening I am hoping that I will be able to get food for my children, and the surplus I will take to the market and sell to buy medication for my children, clothing, and other basic needs.
Also, I am hoping that the money I may earn from the community garden might pay fees to learn a simple skill like tailoring which will help to raise my children in the years ahead.
I am from Maliba sub-country. My family is one of the beneficiaries of the 1,000 Gardens program that we got to know through my wife. Before the program of kitchen gardening, in our household, I used to have violence with my wife because of not fulfilling the domestic needs of the family. But after the garden, we have enough food in the locality to eat. After the training from the extension workers, we no longer need to buy vegetables from the market like tomatoes, cabbages, sukuma wiki. Because of climate change that is a big problem within our area these days, I have planted mango, avocado and orange trees, and looking for mulches to mulch the gardens, and plant on raised beds, and tried to mix organic manure into the compost for the vegetables. I’ve come to realize that working together as a family, the man and the woman in the kitchen gardening, is very important, it reduces fighting in families, and helps with raising up children who will take an example from us.
Through my wife we are one of the beneficiaries of RCRA under 1,000 Women’s Gardens for Better Health and Nutrition. Through this program, I have learned a lot. It has added on my feeding, helped reduce our expenditures on food, and the surplus we sell and get some money. …We have also got some agricultural inputs like watering cans, seeds and hand sprayers. So, on the training I have already got from the extension workers of RCRA I feel like it has helped us a lot. In these activities of kitchen gardens, I as the leader of the family have done a lot in helping the woman ….especially in the activities that are heavy like making raised beds, planting fruit trees, bananas, even mulching, even watering these kitchen gardens. All these activities we are doing are conserving the environment and curbing climate change. I am appreciating the extension workers who are training us. We have seriously improved our livelihood especially on feeding and nutrition.”