Low Input Gardening: Growing Positively (3)
Dear Peter and Colleagues,
Below is further information on our Low Input Gardening (LIG)
project in response to your e-mail that I hope you find useful.
Re. effectiveness and evaluation of the LIG programme, the LIG
results are obvious on the ground but also hard to measure be-
cause of all of the factors involved. A garden could fail one
month because the water gets turned off or the householder gets
sick, then a couple of months later it could be thriving again,
so continuity is difficult.
It is clear from the interviews conducted that all of the house-
holders taking part feel that the programme is benefiting them.
So far 250 baseline interviews have been conducted, though only
116 have been analysed. The responses so far show:
Benefits of LIG Total % Number
Improved diet 58 64
Saved money 72 79
Generated income 32 35
Reduced inputs 64 70
Saved labour 16 18
Saved water 29 32
Improved soil 36 40
Given me something positive
to occupy myself 40 44
Given me something
to share with my family 49 54
Given me something
to share with my community 53 58
Disadvantages of the LIG programme Total %
Stigma/ labelling by the community 35 38
Jealousy or suspicion from others 38 42
Increased labour compared
to conventional growing 18 20
Lack of information on methods 38 42
In terms of sustainability there is one group in particular,
"New Dawn of Hope" in Harare, which is used as the benchmark.
They started without any external input and only asked for
training in LIG once their garden was already thriving. With
minimal external technical assistance they have expanded to five
schools, two community centres and 46 households. Now they are
running a child-feeding programme where they feed 200+ vulner-
able children, 3 times per week with donated food and vegetables
from their LIG garden. They give nutrition information to their
home-based care clients and also grow seedlings to help their
clients set up gardens at their homes.
The success of the LIG programme hinges on the enthusiasm of the
volunteers who are meant to be disseminating information and
helping householders to develop their own gardens. Why are the
New Dawn volunteers more motivated than some others? This is
what needs to be investigated. It also varies according to sub-
The question is: How does one motivate volunteers and how does
one motivate community members? Herbs are a motivator. Even
though there is little scientific evidence to show that they
work, they clearly provide effective placebos and help people
feel that they are able to ease some of the symptoms of the ill-
ness. The nutrition training helps because most people genuinely
don't know that a healthy diet can boost the immune system. How-
ever a far bigger motivating factor is income from the sale of
vegetables. Giving people information about marketing, process-
ing and packaging has been very popular on the training courses.
Also when people see how their gardens can become productive
with minimal inputs they realise how much money they can save
and that motivates as well.
The LIG starter packs containing seeds and information have been
a huge boost to the programme but how do we avoid householders
becoming dependent on donated seed? Giving people information
about how to save their own seed really has helped and many
householders and community gardens have seed banks.
Giving tools and T-shirts as rewards has been identified as a
popular way of motivating. To date, tools have been given to be
shared amongst a number of households and schools, rather than
to individuals. Our LIG Technical Advisor feels that if we can
get the newsletter out to more people they will feel that they
are part of a "LIG movement" which is city-wide and country-
wide. She has been helping volunteers in Highfield, Harare to
get into groups with OVCs and other vulnerable people. The idea
is to form committees and approach schools or community centres
with proposals to ask them if they can use land. They will then
divide up the land - allotment style - they are shown how to
keep proper records of their garden activities, inputs and out-
puts and have registers of who works for how long in the garden
so that produce can be distributed fairly when it is harvested.
These groups are also more powerful because they can approach
the city council as a body and be recognised!
and allowed to cultivate in designated areas. They can also
have access to the regulations governing urban cultivation.
The Technical Advisor feels that there is a critical limit of
numbers of gardens that have to be established and we have now
crossed over that threshold (with over 40 community/school gar-
dens benefiting over 800 people and almost 800 household gar-
dens) so that we are getting closer to the aim of sustainabil-
If anyone wants samples of the indicator questionnaire forms
that have been used for the LIG programme, please let me know.
As for the documents on the website, their absence was brought
to my notice by several people shortly after I sent out the e-
mail and since then I have discovered some problems with the
files. I am in the process of sorting this out and hope to have
them on the website soon. Apologies for this.
Knowledge Management Advisor
John Snow International - Europe
66 South Lambeth Road
Vauxhall, London, SW8 1RL