General Technical Documents are resources made available through ECHOcommunity.org that are not currently part of an ECHO periodical publication such as ECHO Development Notes or ECHO Technical Notes. These resources may or may not be published by ECHO, but have been made available to the ECHOcommunity as online, sharable resources.
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By Abdoulaye Seck
The Microgardening technology is mainly based on 1 or 0.5 m2 wood tables and therefore, can be installed everywhere. Land is an issue in peri-urban/urban and even in some rural areas. The technology can be installed everywhere in household compounds (even in terraces and balconies) to replace land. In addition, the reduced area of the tables (a few m2 ) is compensated by the high yield expected. Other materials can also be used (recuperated tyres, pipes, etc.). This is a crucial advantage in built-up areas where already limited space is under rising pressure as urban and periurban populations continue to grow. This can also sometimes be an issue in rural areas where farmers (particularly women) have not yet secured ownership rights over the land they cultivate, and so remain reluctant to invest in inputs and plant crops whilst there remains a risk of their land being taken away from them.
The purpose of this resource is to suggest several key considerations for beginning a small garden project. This information is meant to be a guideline to better assist you in the organization and implementation of particular elements crucial to making a garden project successful. While each element may initially require a significant time commitment, we believe that approaching these considerations thoroughly and creatively from the beginning will contribute positively to the sustainability of the project.
This resource generously provided for publication by Global Service Corps.
Over the last two years keyhole gardens have been promoted in different communities throughout different programmes in African countries. They are popular and productive across vastly different environments and cultures.
Essentially the keyhole gardens consist of a ring of stones (in other countries bamboo or bricks are also used) about 2m in diameter, and about 1m high. At the centre of there is a stick, wire or bamboo structure that contains organic wastes. This is about 1.5 m high, with the soil sloping a pyramid fashion from the edge of retain wall up to the core. Fresh waste and water is poured into this core on a regular. Moisture and nutrients then seep down from this core into the surrounding soil. Access to the core is provided by a small path way, giving the plot an appearance of a keyhole when view from above.
Additional interesting designs
In every region of the world it is necessary to find or develop appropriate techniques for agriculture. A large part of the surface of the world is arid, characterized as too dry for conventional rain fed agriculture. Yet, millions of people live in such regions, and if current trends in population increase continue, there will soon be millions more. These people must eat, and the wisest course for them is to produce their own food. Yet, the techniques are so varied that only a very large volume would cover the entire subject. This publication is only a primer, an introduction to appropriate techniques. More extensive treatments are mentioned in the bibliography. In many cases the most suitable techniques for a particular region may be those already developed by the local inhabitants. In some cases it will be difficult to improve on local techniques, but at times even simple and inexpensive innovations may be almost revolutionary. This technical note suggests that one must begin to improve local agriculture in arid zones by learning what is already there. Then both techniques and plants that may be useful in specific situations are suggested.
With support from USAID’s Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (Hort CRSP), Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization’s Asia Impact Center (ECHO Asia), Maejo University, Thailand, and the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) initiated efforts in 2010 to begin strengthening indigenous informal seed systems in northern Thailand and Cambodia. Their project was premised on several well-established facts:
- Informal seed systems, such as farmer-to-farmer exchanges and farmer self-saved seed, are critical components of resource-poor farming systems in Southeast Asia.
- A rich diversity of underutilized species function within these systems, particularly among the hilltribe communities of northern Thailand and Khmer farmers of Cambodia.
- Current efforts to conserve, improve, and disseminate local species are inadequate, and the indigenous knowledge surrounding this local seed system is threatened, and/or eroding.
- To optimize these informal seed systems we need to better understand their characteristics and improve local stakeholder capacity, and access to information, technology and high quality seed.
An ECHO developed resource.
In the present global climate of food shortages and price increases in food and fuel, it is more important than ever that communities improve local, sustainable food production. This handbook is a preliminary resource to introduce to you methods and concepts in tropical agriculture, and to assist you in conducting further research. Also be sure to look through the Resources section of this booklet for further research and assistance.
A community seed bank can compare favourably with its High-Tech cousin.
Geoffrey Wheeler, Center for Vocational Building Technology
Appropriate Construction Technologies for God's People, their Animals and Grain There are many appropriate building technologies available. How environmental friendly are they? Earthquake resistant? Typhoon resistant? How can we introduce new materials to a traditional construction culture? Why would we want to produce our own materials? How can we make production accessible to women? In what cases does it make sense to use a new technology? We'll consider interlocking compressed earth blocks, micro concrete roofing tiles, rice husk ash cement, bamboo and more.
1. Efficient recycling of clean vegetable residues.
2. Feed and multiply earthworms to populate a garden area of up to 1000 sq. ft. (32’ X 32’).
3. Protect young worms from animal predators.
4. Worm numbers per bed increased 25 fold, over 6 months at ECHO in N. Fort Meyers, FL.
5. Improved conditions, year around, for efficient composting.
6. Enhances the management of permanently located, no till, organic, raised beds.
7. Worm tunnels improve soil aeration, moisture conditions, plant root development and nutrient cycling.
8. Highly favors beneficial microbial, soil health.
9. Improved and better balanced soil fertility.
10. With some three years of use, on poor sandy soil, the Brannen’s report improved soil quality and higher vegetable yields and quality.