Back in 2010 : success stories of organic family gardening

Photo credit WVC P1000601 – 2007-01

Family garden in a refugee camp in S.W. Algeria

An invitation to 5 billion non-hungry people on earth

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium)


Many people are looking for success stories of organic family gardening or farming in rural and in urban areas.

Don’t search anymore: here is a splendid testimony of the results booked in Argentina, in a number of other South American countries and in Haiti.

Haiti? Isn’t that the country where food aid was so badly needed after the earthquake? Well, read this little story carefully and get aware of the undeniable potentialities of local food production for all these families, since 2005 being enabled to cover some or even most of their food needs thanks to a remarkable programme for self-production of fresh food, already launched in 1990 in Argentina under the name Pro-Huerta.

For me, a breathtaking reading of this interesting publication lies in the sequencing of a number of quotes of the original text.  They are listed below.

School garden in Gambia - Photo credit: Hélène CLYBOUW - 2011_1210december3Gambia20110149
School garden in Gambia – Photo credit: Hélène CLYBOUW – 2011_1210december3Gambia20110149


The original heartwarming article, of which an excerpt was reposted by Michael Levenston on the City Farmer News (New Stories From ‘Urban Agriculture Notes’):

has been published by Jane Regan and Marcela Valente on the IPS-website on Oct. 22, 2010:

Family garden in Guatemala - Photo credit : 2014-12-28 Photo Jay Jackson, Guatemala) - 1979727_10152718304357923_1216222789_n
Family garden in Guatemala – Photo credit : 2014-12-28 Photo Jay Jackson, Guatemala) – 1979727_10152718304357923_1216222789_n (vertical gardening in bottle towers.

Organic Gardens Feeding People from Argentina to Haiti

Here is my selection of quotes:

Neither hurricanes nor floods, nor an earthquake, nor political instability managed to wipe out the organic gardening initiative, called Pro-Huerta (Pro-Garden), Programme d’Autoproduction d’Aliments Frais (“Self-Sufficient Fresh Vegetable Programme”) or “ti jaden òganik” (Creole for “small organic garden”), underway in Haiti since 2005.

The aim of the programme is to promote organic gardens in both cities and rural areas.

After the earthquake, some families had their own garden production to fall back on and cover some of their food needs.

Some families told us they were glad they didn’t have to stand in line all the time to suffer the humiliation of asking for food.

Emerged in 1990, the programme has now in Argentina 630,000 gardens and farms distributed in 3,500 urban and rural settings. The model has also been replicated in other countries of the region, including Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Venezuela.

There are all sorts of initiatives all over the region, which either replicate the model or take some elements from it, and there’s also an international course to provide training in other countries.

The Haitian experience has been particularly successful because a great deal has been achieved without considerable inputs or efforts.

With a 100-metre garden a family can grow enough food to cover its needs, but a space half that size is also good. And community or church plots can be used too.

These organic gardens are also sprouting in schools, prisons, community soup kitchens and senior citizen groups.

Food is mostly grown for personal consumption, but trade networks have also emerged. This is agro-ecological production: no chemicals are used, pest control is done naturally and the soil is allowed to recover through crop rotation.

In Haiti, where some 2.4 million of the country’s nine million people are considered “food insecure” and half the food consumed in the country is imported, these small gardens are making a difference.

Pro-Huerta is probably the most successful example of South-South cooperation.

Families in Haiti have been trained to produce their own seeds, good seeds. This is an important step towards assuring food security and food sovereignty.

Seeds are a flashpoint issue in Haiti. Following the earthquake, the agro-industrial giant Monsanto donated four million dollars worth of hybrid maize and vegetable seeds to the government, sparking outcries and protests, including the burning of mounds of seeds. As it turned out, the seeds were not really donated but offered to farmers for a fee.

With programs like Pro-Huerta, Haitian farmers are helped to improve their own seeds, their nutrition and their economic situation, all at the same time.

School garden in Niamey (Niger) - Photo credit WVC 1998-02-école-07
School garden in Niamey (Niger) – Photo credit WVC 1998-02-école-07

This fantastic programme deserves to be applied at the global scale. It is the crux of the matter in the combat of hunger and malnutrition.

Families, schools, communities, allotments, hospitals, churches, youth associations, senior citizen groups, sports clubs, prisons, …

Let’s start with the poorest and most vulnerable families. Let’s start doing it for all those malnourished children. 

Please, stop the discussion about the price of providing quality nutrition to children and the problems of transport and distribution of food aid. Give these poor families, and in particular the mothers, a chance to put a first step forward towards self-sufficiency.

It is a real honour for me to invite today 5 billion non-hungry people on earth to convince the decision makers to enable such an appealing food aid programme.

Let’s join our hands.  Let’s join our hearts.

Willem Van Cotthem

101 stories of hope, innovation, and success, in creating a better food system.

Photo credit:

Food production in a small backyard: Jojo Rom’s riser in Davao City, The Philippines

101 Facts That Make Us Hopeful About the Future of Food

This week, Food Tank is highlighting stories of hope, innovation, and success, in creating a better food system. From women’s land access in Chad and urban green spaces in Australia to chefs in the United Kingdom and the United States implementing local, sustainable food sourcing—there are hundreds of innovations giving us hope about the future of food.

Food Tank is featuring 101 bright spots in the food system that we hope will inspire eaters, businesses, researchers, scientists, funders, donors and policy makers to create—and support—a more sustainable food system.

Read the full article: FoodTank


Effect of a new Indian organic fertilizer (Willem)

My Indian correspondent Yogesh PATEL has sent to me 5 kg of a new organic fertilizer he has developed. With my friends of the allotment gardens Slotenkouter in 9040 ST.AMANDSBERG (Belgium) we have set up some tests on different vegetables. In due time we will present a detailed report on the results. Today and with great pleasure, I can publish the first pictures showing the very positive effect on the growth of carrots. Please enjoy with us this remarkable success in one of the allotment gardens :

Edward VUEGHS in his nice allotment garden, showing proudly the effect of the PATEL- fertilizer on carrots.

Four rows of carrots sown the same day. A few weeks later the soil along the rows was treated from left to right as follows :

Row 1 and Row 2 (left) : carrots treated with a mixture of 4kg of PATEL-fertilizer per 80 kg of local garden soil.
Row 3 (center) : carrots untreated, growing in local, quite fertile garden soil.
Row 4 (right) : carrots treated with a mixture of 2 kg of PATEL-fertilizer per 80 kg of local garden soil.

See the remarkable difference in growth and this only 14 days after treatment.

Row 1 and Row 2 (left) : carrots treated with a mixture of 4kg of PATEL-fertilizer per 80 kg of local garden soil.
Row 3 (center) : carrots untreated, growing in local, quite fertile garden soil.
Row 4 (right) : carrots treated with a mixture of 2 kg of PATEL-fertilizer per 80 kg of local garden soil.

Still any doubts about the positive effect of PATEL’s fertilizer ?

In a couple of weeks, I will gladly inform you on the results of the carrot harvest by Edward VUEGHS. Stay tuned on the value of Yogesh PATEL’s organic fertilizer !

I am now wondering if this fertilizer can help us to combat drought and desertification. Therefore, I intend to use it in combination with our TerraCottem water and fertilizer stocking soil conditioner in some of the drylands, e.g. In the refugee camps in Algeria or in Tamil Nadu (India).

How Organic Agriculture contributes to combat Desertification (Google / Organic Agriculture)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

How Organic Agriculture contributes to combat Desertification

Mahdi Ebrahimi | June 18, 2008

The 2008 theme of the Day is “Combating Land Degradation for Sustainable Agriculture” and because the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements representing over 700 members in more than 100 countries is convinced that Organic Agriculture can contribute significantly to mitigate and even reverse the negative impacts of unsustainable land use and to stem further desertification it joins the international community to mark 17 June World Day to Combat Desertification. Continue reading “How Organic Agriculture contributes to combat Desertification (Google / Organic Agriculture)”

The truth about organic gardening (Google / Chicago Tribune / Willem)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening,1,2932019.story

The truth about organic gardening

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Jeff Gillman believes in the bedrock idea of organic gardening: that maintaining healthy soil, full of organic matter and beneficial microorganisms that release nutrients to plants, is the way to make plants thrive. But he’s bothered by what organic gardening has become. Over the last 40 years or so, the concept has evolved to demonize the use of all synthetic chemicals. Meanwhile, Internet message boards crackle with recipes for supposedly “natural” home-brewed pesticides and plastic spray bottles labeled “organic” shoulder their way onto the insecticide shelf at the garden center. Continue reading “The truth about organic gardening (Google / Chicago Tribune / Willem)”

B. McDORMAN : Comment on “Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening? (Google / The Daily Green)”

A new comment on the post #2500 “Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening? (Google / The Daily Green)”
Author : Bill McDorman

We live in an era in which we may lose up to 80% of the world’s genetic diversity in agriculture, a diversity it took mankind 10,000 years to create. We need this diversity to sustain our agriculture into the future. The fact is most of this diversity is not certified organic. Help us live long enough into the future when all agriculture is safe (organic) by finding varieties of plants that do well in your own garden wether they are organic or not and then learning to save the seeds. You are able to save the seeds from hybrids if you want to pay attention to at least 8 generation of offspring, or long enough to stabilize the lines. You can find free seed saving instructions here: Continue reading “B. McDORMAN : Comment on “Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening? (Google / The Daily Green)””

Book : The Truth About Organic Gardening (Google / Timber Press)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

10 Surprising Truths About Organic Gardening

PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ — Jeff Gillman teaches horticulture at the University of Minnesota and has investigated the science behind many popular organic techniques. In The Truth About Organic Gardening (Timber Press) he confirms many long-held beliefs about organic benefits, while puncturing more than a few common myths.

True or false? Garlic not only repels vampires, it also repels whiteflies, aphids, and beetles.

A: True. Sprays made from garlic extract and water repel a variety of insect pests, as long as the spray reaches every part of the plant you want to protect.

True or false? Corn gluten meal suppresses weeds when applied to the soil.

A: True. If given enough time to work (usually a couple of years) and reapplied each year, corn gluten meal is a safe and effective pre-emergent herbicide.

True or false? Any mulch is good for soil and plants.

A: False. Some mulch, such as wood chips, can rob the soil of nitrogen, and is not always effective at suppressing weeds. Used incorrectly, mulches can damage plant stems through heat buildup, and can harbor insects and diseases.

True or false? Manure is always a desirable soil amendment.

A: False. Composted manure is a wonderful addition to the soil. Fresh manure shouldn’t be used because it can release ammonia, which can injure plants. Fresh animal manure can also contain weed seeds and human pathogens. E. coli can live in uncomposted manure for up to 21 months! Continue reading “Book : The Truth About Organic Gardening (Google / Timber Press)”

Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening? (Google / The Daily Green)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Do You Need Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening?

Starting Off on the Right Foot or Unnecessary Expense?

At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer: If you’re going to be an organic gardener, you ought to plant organic seeds. But it would really be better to say: if you’re going to buy organic products, put organic seeds on your shopping list. For home gardeners, the reason to choose organic seeds is to support organic agriculture. It has very little to do with the seeds themselves. Why does this matter? Because it means you can organically grow whatever you want. From the garden’s point of view, one bundle of genetic material is pretty much like another (assuming said bundle is good of its kind and has not been treated with fungicide or otherwise messed-with post harvest).* So although organic seed is preferable when available, insisting on its exclusive use is a little like removing your nose in order to spite your face. Continue reading “Organic Seeds for Organic Gardening? (Google / The Daily Green)”

Garden Book: ‘The Truth About Organic Gardening’ (Google / Seattlepi)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Garden Book: ‘The Truth About Organic Gardening’

By Jeff Gillman

(Timber, 208 pages, $12.95)

This inexpensive paperback is sure to cause controversy and heated discussion. Which is exactly why the author, an associate professor of horticulture, wrote it. He wants gardeners to think beyond the dogma and look at the facts about so-called organic gardening practices.

He warns to stay away from all compost teas until scientific research can prove they do not contain scary human pathogens. (He also cites a plethora of studies that call the teas useless.) He also is concerned about the safety of Neem, considers nicotine effective but just too dangerous to use, and calls Rotenone his least favorite pesticide.

Although Rotenone is effective on insects and is considered “organic,” he says it is such an environmental hazard that he questions the sanity of any gardener using the product.

More scientific studies on the effectiveness and safety of citrus oil, hot pepper sprays and the use of beer to catch slugs are next, and these studies are reassuring — with some warnings about citrus oil. More controversial statements follow.

Gilman would never consider buying praying mantises or ladybugs as they don’t stick around, but he says studies do support the safety and effectiveness of insecticidal soaps on soft-bodied insects such as aphids and mites, and baking soda and water on powdery mildew.

(continued)What this book does is introduce more than 100 products and planting techniques and cite the latest university tests and factual results so that gardeners can make responsible choices and not continue to link the words “organic,” “safe” and “effective” so firmly in their minds.

— Marianne Binetti

Starting an organic garden (Google / STL Today)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Starting an organic garden

Organic gardening is gardening naturally, using environmentally friendly products and cultural practices to produce healthy vegetables and beautiful flowers. In a 1940 magazine article, J.I. Rodale introduced the concept of organic gardening, in which he advocated the use of natural materials such as compost and manure in the garden. Today, more than 15 million home gardeners in the United States use organic gardening techniques. Concerned about the environment, they believe gardening is easier when working with Mother Nature. If you’d like to try organic gardening, these basic tips will help you get started. Perhaps you already use some of these techniques.

Soil preparation

The first step to organic gardening is to prepare a base of fertile, healthy soil. Healthy plants draw their nourishment from healthy soil and thus are less susceptible to diseases and pest attacks. Create healthy soil by adding natural organic matter such as compost and manure.


If you need fertilizer, use naturally occurring organic fertilizers such as bat guano, blood meal, bone meal, fish emulsion, cottonseed meal, green sand, rock phosphate and soybean meal.

Plant selection

The next step is to choose the right plant for the right place. For a naturally moist area, select plants that like moisture. In a sunny spot, choose plants that thrive in heat and sun. In either case, you save water, and the environment thanks you. Select Plants of Merit and native plants appropriate for our area. Plants that live in conditions that suit them require less maintenance and are less likely to succumb to diseases and pests. Many disease-resistant varieties of flowers and vegetables are available.

Cultural weed control Continue reading “Starting an organic garden (Google / STL Today)”

Organic Gardening Benefits (Google / Everything Outside)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Organic Gardening Benefits Our Health & The Planet

Did you know that interest in gardening is increasing at a rapid rate?  The increase is due to the under 35 set who is said to have a greater interest in the environment and going green.  The primary field of gardening interest of Generation Y is organic gardening. There has been a lot written about organic gardening in the mainstream media and it has become a very popular topic with many, not just youth.  With so many more health and environmentally conscious people around today, organic gardening has become quite popular. Organic produce has become a featured item at many large-chain grocery stores so it is no wonder people want to know more about organic gardening.  Some would even grow their own organic produce if they only knew how or had the time or had the space for it.

But do we really know what organic gardening is? Continue reading “Organic Gardening Benefits (Google / Everything Outside)”

Organic fertilizers (Edible Landscaping)

Read at : Edible Landscaping

National Gardening Association <>

Using Organic Fertilizers

Growing food organically is a hot topic across the country. Most of the attention is on avoiding pesticides or using organic and environmentally friendly products to control insects and diseases. However, growing organically also means using organic fertilizers. Building up the fertility of the soil is one of the most important aspects of gardening. For years many gardeners used only synthetic fertilizers on their gardens. Synthetic fertilizers are manufactured products, while organic fertilizers are derived from plants, animals, or naturally occurring minerals. While both can go through a manufacturing process, there are advantages to using an organic fertilizer that’s in a form close to its natural source. Continue reading “Organic fertilizers (Edible Landscaping)”

%d bloggers like this: