Are these five media innovations really working to reduce hunger ? (WorldWatch Institute / Willem Van Cotthem’s comment)

Read at :

Five Media Innovations that Help Feed the Planet

“Worldwatch researchers offered a diverse selection of sustainability posts last week. In this one, we discussed five media innovations that are working to reduce hunger around the world. In this post, we discussed new environmental initiatives in China, including a Working Plan to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions, to achieve the country’s energy and carbon emission intensity targets. And in this entry, we discussed the Jordan Valley Permaculture Program, which is using permaculture to re-green the Dead Sea Valley in Jordan.”


Robert Engelman
Worldwatch Institute


Five Media Innovations That Help Feed the Planet

By Isaac Hopkins

As modern technology is adopted in widespread regions of our planet, it can provide poor people with access to many forms of media. Innovations like the internet and satellite technology are changing the face of food system solutions in even the poorest countries.

Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five forms of media that can use the power of information to combat hunger.

1. Television: Access to television is expanding all over the planet. ……………….

2. Videos: Airing informational programs may not always be the most efficient way to put television sets to work to feed people. …………………..

3. Community Websites: The foundation of successful and sustainable growth in food production is communication. …………………..

4. News Media Partnerships: News media, from local papers to international corporations, wield incredible power through the information that they distribute. ………………

5. Mobile Phones: ……………….  “With subscription services like daily weather and crop market updates, major service providers are utilizing this emerging form of media to aid farmers in making smart decisions.”

Isaac Hopkins is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.


MY COMMENT  (Willem Van Cotthem)

Needless to confirm that (1) television, (2) videos, (3) websites, (4) news media partnerships and (5) mobile phones may “wield an incredible power through the information that they distribute.

But, how are they helping to feed the planet ?

(1) Television : “……………. so thousands of Kenyans have learned a new method of increasing production by watching a soap opera!

(2) Videos : ” …………….. farmer-to-farmer videos go beyond traditional training videos by fully explaining the techniques and why they work.

(3) Community websites : ” …………….. Individual communities have begun to implement websites that foster open transfer of ideas and innovation throughout the community“.

(4) News Media Partnerships : ” ……………..  They are working to directly link farmers, researchers, and policy-makers, so that they can quickly implement and scale up innovations and policies that will provide food security for these countries. ………. an “important information hub on agricultural related issues.”

(5) Mobile Phones : “………………  With subscription services like daily weather and crop market updates, major service providers are utilizing this emerging form of media to aid farmers in making smart decisions”


For decades already international and national efforts have been produced and trillions of dollars have been spent at combating hunger, but more than 1 billion impoverished people are still living constantly in a situation of hunger or malnutrition.

It goes without saying that many members of the international community have a considerable interest in helping to feed the planet :

  • through soap operas at television,
  • through a choice of videos on low- and high-tech farming techniques,
  • through community websites for the poorest,
  • through partnerships between policy-makers, researchers and farmers to implement and scale up innovations providing food security,
  • through messages on weather forecast and market opportunities on the mobile phones of the 1 billion hungry.

Maybe I overlooked something in this fairy tale about all these poor people having a television set, a computer and a mobile phone ?  Maybe I don’t understand how these hungry people are getting something to eat before they are watching the soap opera or the videos at their television set ?  Aren’t they hungry anymore when sitting at night in front of their computer to study the community website ?  Who’s paying for the use of their cheap mobile phones to listen to the weather forecast or to read SMS messages about the market and banking conditions in their village ?

Please tell me where my reasoning is wrong when I am thinking that a kitchen garden for every family, a school garden for every school, a hospital garden for every medical center, bottle towers on every balcony in the cities or in every small backyard, are dramatically stronger tools to combat hunger than “innovations like the internet and satellite technology… changing the face of food system solutions in even the poorest countries by providing communities with important information.

I remain convinced that the most valuable information on food system solutions is totally useless for a person with an empty stomach.

Instead of offering these poor hungry people technological innovations, for which they will have to pay, we should teach them how to grow their own food at home and give their children decent, vitamin-rich meals, instead of a handful of carbohydrates with some sauce.

A constantly growing number of people, both in rural and in urban areas, is showing that container gardening is the highway to a better food-secure future.  That’s the good news for the media.

2011 : Bottle tower gardening, the most affordable technique to grow food at home for every person on earth (Photo WVC)
2011 : Lettuce, celery, any vegetable, any herb can be grown in containers, recycled bottles, pots, buckets, sacks, ... That's combating hunger in every backyard or house, on all the continents, in villages, towns and cities, everywhere (Photo WVC)

Solution for the hunger problem : food production at home (Jojo ROM / Muneer HINAY / Willem VAN COTTHEM)

Messages of Jojo ROM and Muneer HINAY to the HFC-HOME FARMERS CLUB :

Jojo ROM :

Jojo ROM's backyard transformed into a small food oasis - LEFT : vegetables and herbs in 5-gallon bottles and tetrapots (recycled tetrapacks) - RIGHT : a wooden A-form riser with bottles and tetrapots standing over a small fishpond (Photo Jojo ROM)

“I’m so shocked with the news today that in every 6 minutes 1 child dies in Africa because of hunger.  I’m figuring out if this Home Farmers Club Members, now reaching 1,600, will grow a garden 50 sqm each, we can have a 8-hectare garden. and could have reduced demand, increase supply and reduced prices of vegetables and indirectly helped the poor and the hungry ones access cheaper vegetables and fruits. Plus, if we integrated the fishpond under the “A” Riser we will have 3.2 hectares of fishpond-one good source of protein.

Fresh food at the lowest prize from the backyard directly to the kitchen : container gardening is one of the best solutions to combat hunger and save money, wherever you live, even in a city (Photo Jojo ROM)

Urban Container Gardening: Starting from what I have at home….

“In urban areas, agriculture seemed impossible due to compressed settlements.  Faith at work made it possible.  Household biodegradable waste is just a misplaced resource.  The only waste that cannot be recycled is WASTED TIME.
This is a response to the FOOD and WASTE crisis.”


Congratulations Jojo ! You made an excellent point and showed clearly that every individual family, rural or urban, should get a chance to set up its own kitchen garden. People should learn that container gardening and/or vertical gardening offers a lot of possibilities to alleviate hunger and child malnutrition. The real challenge is to get all aid organizations convinced that this is THE solution for the hunger problem. Continue to spread the good word, for the day will come …

Container gardening by Muneer HINAY - Growing Chinese cabbage (pechay) in plastic pots (small buckets) on the backyard wall (Photo Muneer HINAY)

Muneer HINAY :

“This is great! HFC (Home Farmers Club) membership is now at 1,600! Let’s continue to advance UCG (Urban Container Gardening) as an essential tool in solving malnutrition and hunger, achieving food security at home, reducing and recycling solid waste and democratizing agriculture! Let’s carry on!”


HFC is clearly becoming a people’s movement, showing the way to a better future and inspiring people in other countries.Your successes are the stepping stones towards great international decisions to ban the hunger. “Best practices” and “Lessons learned” should be more than just words for decision-makers.

What comes first: Strategies for combating climate change or for creating gardens to produce food for children? (Willem VAN COTTHEM / MediaGlobal / UNICEF)

Let me recommend to read very attentively the former posting on this blog :

UNICEF: Children most vulnerable to climate change

UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized,.

Matthew McKinnon, Head of the Climate Vulnerability Initiative at DARA International, told MediaGlobal how the impact of climate change is already evident.

“In Asia, Central and South Asia are the most vulnerable regions; in the Pacific, it is the small island developing states. Both areas are affected by more extreme weather, by effects on human health, by sea-level rise, by desertification (especially India and China), by economic damages to the agricultural sector and effects for natural resources, such as water and biodiversity.”

Geoffrey Keele, Communications Specialist with UNICEF’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, explained to MediaGlobal the specific harms children face in light of these changes.

“The leading killers of children worldwide are highly sensitive to climate changes,” he says. “For example, higher temperatures have been linked to increased rates of malnutrition, cholera, diarrheal disease and vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. Yet children’s underdeveloped immune systems put them at far greater risk of contracting these diseases and succumbing to their complications.”

And Mr. Keele explained that the rising occurrence of extreme weather events might hamper long-term agricultural production. “This could lead to higher food prices and a corresponding increase in malnutrition rates in a region where one in every four children is already stunted due to poor nutrition.” Moreover, such events may divert children from activities like going to school in order to aid in household tasks or pursue work to earn wages, thus deepening their vulnerability.

It is common knowledge that child malnutrition is one of the worst plagues for humanity.  Therefore, it is quite understandable that, if climate change is hampering long-term agricultural production, leading to higher food prices and increase in malnutrition, this is also determining UNICEF’s strategies for helping the children to better nutrition.

However, when reading that Mr. McKinnon, concerning the Durban Summit to bolster financing and advance the fight against climate change, said : “We hope that the Durban Summit will plug the funding gap between 2013-2019 with explicit developed country commitments for annual increases in climate finance from current levels to progressively attain the $100 billion“, we are tempted to put a number of question marks.

Should we rather use $100 billion for climate finance than for improving child nutrition ?

Putting the question is answering it !

No wonder that I am immediately thinking at that splendid low-budget UNICEF project “Family gardens for the Saharawi refugees in the region of Tindouf, S.W. Algeria“, where in 2005-2007 almost 2000 small family gardens have been built, providing fresh vegetables and fruits for the refugee families, in particular the children.

Food production in the Sahara desert : if this low-cost project is possible in a desert, we must be able to feed all the children of this world (Photo Philip HITTEPOLE) / Taleb BRAHIM)

No one denied the importance of this beautiful UNICEF initiative for the children’s health, not even the staff members of the WFP in Tindouf.

We were all terrified when suddenly, at the end of 2007 and without any explanation, UNICEF stopped this successful project.  Fortunately, the Saharawi refugees themselves found the necessary force to continue the efforts step-by-step.

Instead of building upon the lessons learned about inexpensive food production in the Sahara desert for deciding upon strategies to decrease rates of child malnutrition, UNICEF is now hoping for “explicit developed country commitments for annual increases in climate finance from current levels to progressively attain the $100 billion“.

Let me invite you all to quickly estimate how many family gardens, community gardens, school gardens, allotments, urban container and vertical gardens could be build with $100 billion.

And yet, in certain circles, climate finance seems to become more important than financing sustainable infrastructures for improving child nutrition.

See what the poor people in the slums of Nairobi did : creating their own sack gardens ! See what aid organizations did to provide fresh food in the refugee camps of Dabaab : sack gardening. See what many people in flooded areas in Asia do : container gardening, even in hanging containers. See what urban families do on their balconies : bottle tower gardening.  Remember what  hungry people did in World War I and II : creating Victory Gardens (allotments) in open urban spaces.  Be also aware of those spontaneous actions for food production called “guerilla gardening“.

Bottle tower gardening : production of maximal food with minimal water, recycling discarded bottles and pots at the lowest cost. That is sustainably combating malnutrition and hunger (Photo Willem VAN COTTHEM and Gilbert VAN DAMME)

Is all this only ringing my own bell ?

So, what will come first : climate financing or food production financing (and not “food aid” because that is not a sustainable solution; it should be linked at emergencies) ?

Time has come to decide : will we use our scarce financial resources to combat malnutrition and hunger or to combat rising temperatures, mostly due to industrial activities?

Since 2008 continuously wondering why UNICEF stopped its marvelous family gardens project in Algeria, I feel my temperature rising.

Please cool me down with a decent answer !


How to ensure food security for all the hungry of this world ? (Willem Van Cotthem)

Let us read again attentively the former posting on this blog :


Let us first underscore the main issues :

  1. A flagship report states that “small, import-dependent countries, particularly in Africa, are especially vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity
  2. The United Nations agencies working to combat hunger today called for action to ensure long-term food security.
  3. Our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by half in 2015 are challenged.
  4. Even if the MDG were achieved by 2015 some 600 million people in developing countries would still be undernourished …………….. and  suffering from hunger on a daily basis which is never acceptable“.

Therefore, “The entire international community must act today and act forcefully to banish food insecurity from the planet“.

2007-02 - Beautiful, but malnourished children in a Saharawi refugee camp (Tindouf area, S.W. Algeria) - (Photo WVC)

My first question is : “Who are these 600 million people suffering permanently from hunger?“.

No one will deny that most of them live in the developing world, not in developed countries.  We can deduce from it that the entire international community should concentrate its forceful actions to banish food insecurity from that part of the planet, where “small, import-dependent countries, particularly in Africa, are especially vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity“, not from the developed countries where food is even wasted.

Before thinking at reducing food waste in developed countries “through education and policies“, before thinking at reducing “food losses in developing countries by boosting investment in the entire value chain, especially post-harvest processing“, before even thinking at engaging in the combat of “high and volatile food prices, major contributing factors in global food insecurity“, the entire international community and in particular the United Nations agencies concerned should focus on the daily situation of the most vulnerable and poorest of those 600 million hungry or malnourished people.

It is my strongest believe that such a focus would clearly show that investment in the large-scale agricultural sector (to enhance food production and to improve “food security in the long run“) is not the sector in which we should preferentially “act forcefully to banish food insecurity“.  On the contrary, if the number of hungry people has still been growing from 850 million to an estimated 925 million in 2010, our actions should be focused in the first place on the hungry themselves, not on those who have to subsidized and supported to produce efforts to improve food security in the long run.

2007-02 - A small kitchen garden in the Sahara desert suffices to produce sufficient fresh food to improve the health of the family. What is possible in the Sahara should be possible in all the developing countries. (Photo WVC)

My second question is therefore: “Shall we continue to invest in large-scale industrial agriculture, aiming at enhancing food export potentials to stimulate the economy, “incentives for increased long-term investment in the agricultural sector“, or shall we really act forcefully to help the hungry people and their malnourished children to at least one decent daily meal ?

With 925 million hungry people in 2010, the international community can not afford to consider actions that would possibly improve food security in the long run.  Time has come to start as soon as possible actions that offer ALL THE HUNGRY PEOPLE, WHEREVER THEY LIVE, a chance to produce their own fresh food.

Maybe you belong to that group of people who think that such a world initiative is totally impossible ?  Well, open your eyes widely and look at what is going on all over the world today.  People who can’t afford the high food prices, the hungry of this world, are waiting no longer for the aid organizations to offer them food, they start growing fresh food themselves, in different ways, in different places, with minimal means, but with maximal results :

  1. Allotment gardening (the Victory gardens of the hungry people during the two World Wars 1914-1918 and 1940-1945, but still a growing success at world scale, especially now).
  2. Community gardening.
  3. School gardening.
  4. Container gardening at home (in recycled, discarded pots, bottles, buckets,  barrels,  gutters, in a small yard, on the balcony, on the deck, …).
  5. Sack gardening (multi-storey gardening like in some refugee camps).
  6. Urban gardening (in open spaces, replacing weeds by vegetables, rooftop gardening, …).
  7. Vertical gardening (on racks, on trellises, against walls, on stairs, in bottle towers, …).
  8. Permaculture.
  9. Even guerilla gardening in the cities !

Denying this multitude of splendid successes booked by the hungry people themselves is refusing to recognize that inexpensive, but very efficient solutions are at hand to save the lives of millions of children and unfortunate people.  Why aren’t we giving them a helping hand at almost no cost ?  Why would we invest in the far future, if we can offer them a more decent life today ?  Making people healthier and stronger is also a form of investment in the far future !

It suffices to look at the evidence of thousands of already published photos and videos, illustrating the efficiency of all these simple gardening methods, applied by the most vulnerable people without consistent help of the international community, to realize what the effect could be of a possible UN-supported program to offer every single hungry family a small kitchen garden (see my photo above).  It should not remain a dream.

Let the UN agencies not offer them A FISH anymore, but teach them HOW TO FISH !  For food security can better be achieved by the hungry themselves, if only we decide to give them that helping hand.

Their nice dinner menu is figuring the gardening techniques mentioned above.

I’m Dancing and Singing in the Drought (Willem Van Cotthem)

You probably know I’m not the actor Gene KELLY, that’s why I’m not dancing and singing in the rain, but in the drought.

The reason for my optimistic mood today is quite simple :  there are so many remarkable reports published on successful, sustainable, cheap, efficient methods and techniques to grow fresh food in containers, in family gardens, in allotments, in community gardens, in vertical gardens etc., that I get the strongest believe that everyone, every family, every community living in the most harsh environments in Africa, Asia and South America, can definitely ban hunger and malnutrition, with a little bit of help, of course.

That’s why “I’m dancing and singing“, just like Gene KELLY, not in the rain, but in the drought.  And I hope that one day those one billion hungry people will dance with us.

The title song for that celebrated film musical Singin’ in The Rain (1952) was originally created by lyricist Arthur Freed and composer Nacio Herb Brown for MGM’s Hollywood Revue of 1929.

I couldn’t resist changing a few words to express “my glorious feelin’ ” about all those opportunities we have to offer hungry and malnourished children and adults a better life.  So, here I go :

“I’m singing in the drought
Just singing in the drought
What a glorious feelin’
I’m happy in thought
I’m laughing at skies
So bright up above
The sun’s in my heart
And I’m ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the drought
I’ve a smile on my face
I walk down the ford
With a happy thought
Just singin’,
Singin’ in the drought”


You get me ? Let’s dance and sing together, because “with a little help of my friends” (Ringo STARR) we can make this world better.

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends,
Oh, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.”

Forget the billions of dollars for long-term food aid.  Keep those for emergency cases.

And with a little help of our friends, let’s teach those people in need how to grow vegetables and fruits in containers, buckets, used barrels, pots, whatever can contain some potting soil.

Because we will really help them towards sustainable development !

The irrefutable evidence of the FAO : decisive victory for city gardening in the war on hunger and poverty (Willem Van Cotthem)

Citizens of Ghent/Belgium (here in the allotments Slotenkouter) produce enough vegetables for the family all year long (Photo WVC)
Neighbours in allotments all over the world are motivating each other to improve their yield (Photo WVC)


For many years already we have been promoting family (kitchen) gardens and allotment gardens (the “VICTORY GARDENS” of World War I and WW. II) as the most efficient tool to combat hunger, malnutrition and poverty (see a short list of former postings below).

It goes without saying that the voice of individuals or small groups, e.g. NGOs, is barely heard.  Nevertheless, the number of publications on successes booked with community gardens, urban gardening, allotments, family gardening and many other aspects of food production in urban areas is more than impressive. Even “guerilla gardening” can be seen as the expression of an urgent need to give urban gardening the chances it deserves.

And now the day has come ! Will it be a D-Day ?

In a message of June 10, 2011 the UNNews announces :


With great pleasure we read :

“A five-year United Nations urban horticulture programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has more than doubled its output of vegetables, turned profits, increased nutrition and employed thousands – some at four and five times the income they made previously, according to a report issued today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The $10.4 million FAO plan, financed by Belgium and implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development since 2000, has assisted urban growers in five cities – Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Mbanza-Ngungu, Kisangani and Likasi – to produce 330,000 tons of vegetables annually, up from 148,000 in 2005-2006, FAO said in a <““>press release.

Less than 10 per cent of the vegetables produced by the project are consumed by beneficiaries. The remainder, constituting more than 250,000 tons of produce, is sold in urban markets and supermarkets, for up to $4 a kilo for the major vegetables produced: tomatoes, sweet peppers and onions, for a surplus value of about $400 million, FAO said.

“This programme has increased per capita daily intake of micronutrients: different types of greens, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables, and as such is enormous help in the fight against malnutrition, especially amongst children and breast-feeding women in cities,” said Remi Nono-Womdim, an agricultural officer for FAO.

An estimated half of children in the DRC are chronically undernourished.

The FAO said the programme has also helped provide employment for 16,000 small-scale market gardeners, and to 60,000 people more in jobs linked to the horticulture business.

Farmers have seen their incomes increase dramatically,” FAO said. “On average, in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi for example, [the] annual income of each farmer has increased from around $500 in 2004 to $2,000 in 2010 and in Likasi it rose from $700 to $3,500. There have been similar increases in other cities.”

“It helped that many of the new city dwellers were rural immigrants who already had basic knowledge of crop production,” said Mr. Nono-Womdim. There were also sizeable areas of fertile land available, especially around Lubumbashi.

The FAO said the project in the DRC “is a flagship model of how to help cities grow their own nutrients and micro-nutrients to keep pace with growing demand.”

“The global number of urban dwellers is now higher than those living in rural areas. With the fastest growing cities situated in the developing world, vegetable growing in towns, cities, suburbs and shanty towns is essential to improving nutrition and food security in poor countries,” FAO said.

“The great thing is we have shown this goal can be reached, what we need to do now is scale-up production in the DRC and in other parts of Africa,” said Mr. Nono-Womdim.

It goes without saying that all this is clearly the best news about combating hunger, malnutrition and poverty we heard in years.

It has been so frustrating to read continuously that billions (trillions ?) of dollars were needed to alleviate the children’s malnutrition and the hunger of a billion people every year.

It was so “illogical” that aid organizations continued to impose views on “the necessity to deliver commercial food packages or food baskets at a regular base” and to ship these loads of food continuously from North to South and from West to East, without considering the proven possibilities to grow fresh food locally, e.g. in community gardens, allotments, family gardens and the like.

Today, the UN-organization FAO has delivered the irrefutable evidence that the earthships’s course has to be changed as soon as possible : our food aid strategy should be heading to a new CAPE OF HOPE in the SEA OF FAMILY GARDENING with its capital the CITY GARDENS.

Even the blind should hear this message !

May God  bless the FAO and my country Belgium for that wonderful “City Garden Programme” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the stepping stone project towards a world without hunger.  I couldn’t dream of a nicer present for “Father’s Day”.

by Willem Van Cotthem


Please read also :

Women can play a very important role in the management and sustainability of a city garden (Photo WVC)
Benefits of a city garden: increased vegetable production, improved nutrition,, enhanced profits, employment of jobless people, an healthy occupation, social events (Photo WVC)
Some even participate in university research work on soil conditioning and fertilizing (Photo WVC)

Homeowners allowed to plant drought-tolerant ground-cover plants without a permit in L.A. (Google / LA Times)

Read at : Google Alert – drought

Strawberries by the sidewalk? New rules for L.A.’s residential parkways

The Los Angeles Board of Public Works approved new rules Monday for residential parkways, that strip of ground between the sidewalk and the street. The city’s revised Residential Parkway Landscape Guidelines allow homeowners to plant drought-tolerant ground-cover plants without a permit. Previously, the only permit-free plantings allowed were street trees and lawn.

“A lot of people look at the parkways as an extension of their frontyard, and it really has a different purpose and therefore has to be held to a different standard,” said Lance Oishi, senior landscape architect for L.A.’s Bureau of Street Services.

Technically, parkways are part of the street, Oishi said. They are not private property, even though homeowners are required to maintain them.


Continue reading “Homeowners allowed to plant drought-tolerant ground-cover plants without a permit in L.A. (Google / LA Times)”

To all aid organizations: offer a ‘survival or victory garden’ to the hungry families (Willem Van Cotthem)

all the hungry families of this world

To all aid workers, please read the former posting on this blog:

‘Survival gardens’ can help save cash

Patches deliver high yields from small spaces and produce wholesome foods that store well.

I am convinced that you will have noticed the following important parts of Dean FOSDICK’s interesting article in The Seattle Times:

(1) Many cash-strapped families are turning to “survival gardens” to help dig out from the recession.
(2) “They were called ‘victory gardens’ during the world wars because they helped ease shortages, ‘…… ‘We call them ‘survival gardens’ now because they help families cut spending.’
(3) The term is part of a larger do-it-yourself trend toward growing more backyard veggies and eating locally grown food.
(4) Survival gardens are used mainly to raise the kind of produce that you can grow for less than what you would pay at a grocery store – …………..
(5) People new to gardening can get help from county extension offices, churches and community groups. Some offer training, others provide growing sites and a few distribute supplies — all for little or no charge.
(6) Survival gardens can do more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table, ………. “Families have told us they sell some of their overage (from the starter kits) to pay bills and get medicines,” ……….
(7) …………sells ‘survival seed’ packets, and said their sales have more than doubled in the past year. Each package contains 16 easy-to-grow heirloom vegetables, from beets to pole beans, cabbage to sweet corn. They come triple-wrapped in watertight plastic, designed to increase storage life.
(8) ………… gardening with seed is one way to save on food dollars, particularly if it’s the right kind of seed.

The fact that 1 billion (or 925 million ?) people on this world are hungry or malnourished is generally attributed by the international media to the economic crisis (food crisis), all those poor people supposed to be unable to afford the expensive food at the market. That’s probably why nowadays ‘Many cash-strapped families are turning to “survival gardens” to help dig out from the recession.‘.

During World Wars I and II, not the food prizes, but simply the lack of food caused huge hunger problems. All the war-affected countries reacted on these emergencies in the exactly the same way: by offering the hungry population small spaces or allotments for gardening. Those allotment gardens or ‘victory gardens’ helped ease the food shortages, people eating their locally grown food. Do you know that most of those allotment gardens still exist all over the world and that millions of people still avoid malnutrition and hunger, producing fresh vegetables and fruits in their ‘victory garden’? A success story, don’t you think?

We appreciate very much the term ‘survival gardens’ used in this Seattle Times article, as these small patches really help families to cut spending by producing food in a cheaper way than the one at the market or the grocery store.

The applicability of this ‘survival garden strategy’ at the global level is clearly shown (see above) by:
(5) People new to gardening can get help from county extension offices, churches and community groups. Some offer training, others provide growing sites and a few distribute supplies — all for little or no charge.

If county extension offices, churches and community groups can help these people, it should be easy for international organizations and foundations to do this – all for little or no charge – for the 925 million hungry people of this world.

Let us also keep in mind that ‘Survival gardens can do more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table, …’, but that families can also enhance their annual income by taking their ‘overage’ of vegetables or fruits to the market, particularly in developing countries.

To offer a ‘survival or victory garden’ to all the hungry families of this world, it’s such a noble task that no one can ever believe that all the aid organizations remain blind for the value of the experience of World Wars I and II, the extraordinary success of allotment gardens or ‘victory gardens’ to alleviate hunger and child malnutrition in tiles of crisis.

May the light come ….!

Frank ZIDDAH :

“My personal wish is that every adult [or capable child] should be able to cultivate some food crops in or around his home. Even urban dwellers with no compound can have ‘container crops’ by their window.Sincerely, we should not wait for another meltdown, it should be way of life. May this be the light.”

From Brownfield to Greenfield (ASLA)

Read at :

From Brownfield to Greenfield

Wellesley, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

At Wellesley College, the school planned a revitalization of an area called the Alumnae Valley. Over time, the valley had become the site for the college’s physical plant, industrialized natural gas pumping, and a 175-space parking lot over a toxic brownfield.

Project Facts

  • The Alumnae Valley landscape represents the reworking of 13.5 acres of Wellesley College’s campus over a seven-year period.
  • The project transforms a 175-space parking lot that covered toxic dirt into a functioning wetland.
  • The original landscape was shaped by ice-age glaciers. Earth mound designs along paths mimic the original sculpting of the land while storing remediated soil.
  • Almost immediately after construction of the wetland area, meadows appeared and cattails sprouted along the water.

Urban farm producing organic fruits and vegetables (ASLA – Am. Soc. Landscape Architects)

Read at :

Rooftop Haven for Urban Agriculture

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Like many economically-depressed urban areas, the Grand Crossing Neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side offered children little green space and few opportunities for after-school learning and entertainment.

Project Facts

  • Located in a depressed area of Chicago’s South side, the Gary Comer Youth Center Roof Garden is an urban farm that produces more than 1,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables each year.
  • The Center’s rooftop garden provides students with hands-on extracurricular activities so they can learn about environmental sustainability and the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.
  • The Center’s café uses fresh produce grown on the roof to feed more than 175 students each day.

“Seeds for Food” could help gardeners in Zimbabwe and elsewhere (Willem Van Cotthem)

When reading the former posting on this blog, I could not resist thinking how easy it could be to help the gardeners in Bulawayo by sending them lots of free seeds of vegetables collected by our action “Seeds for Food”.

Please read the second paragraph :

“Using waste water has helped me to grow vegetables for sale,” Maziya told IPS. “I have used money from the sale of these vegetables to put my children through school. The project has made a difference for my family and I. “My wish now is to improve the variety of vegetables I grow here to include carrots, spinach, tomatoes cabbage and onions which will increase my income.” Maziya is one of about a thousand farmers who are part of a project to grow leaf vegetables such as rape, sugar beans and maize using treated waste water. “
Now suppose that some development aid organization or a NGO wants to help these urban farmers in Bulawayo to seeds.  Probably they would buy them in Zimbabwe (thus helping the local seed producing companies).  Wouldn’t it be wise to save that money for other aid actions and use our free seeds for urban gardening ?

We can only offer to help gardeners, wherever they need seeds.  Just ask !

2008 - Allotment gardens Slotenkouter (Ghent City, Belgium). Successful application of an Indian organic fertilizer (left untreated, right treated).
2008 - Allotment gardens Slotenkouter (Ghent City, Belgium). Allotment gardens all over the world are a fantastic contribution to the alleviation of hunger and malnutrition, in particular in the drylands.

Zimbabwe : using “marginal water” to ease water scarcity, provide food and earn a living (AfricaFiles)

Read at :


Title: Marginal water used in Bulawayo
Author: Busani Bafana, Bulawayo
Category: Ecology
Date: 1/22/2010
Source: Inter Press Service News Agency
Source Website: <>

African Charter Article# 24: All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development.

Summary & Comment: A project in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, is creatively using “marginal water” to ease water scarcity while helping residents provide food and earn a living. AB

Water scarcity no obstacle to Bulawayo farmers

Continue reading “Zimbabwe : using “marginal water” to ease water scarcity, provide food and earn a living (AfricaFiles)”

%d bloggers like this: