A home garden is much more than the typical ornamental garden near a house. A home garden is managed for useful plants - usually a diverse mix of wild plants and garden crops.
Home gardens usually contain a wide range of plants and are carefully managed, often by women. The emphasis is as much on diversity as yield.
Home gardens have recently become of great interest to scientists, for two reasons. First, home gardens are a living laboratory for looking at how plants evolve under human influence.
The second reason that home gardens are of such great interest is because they fill a nutritional gap. Lack of vitamin A is a serious problem in Asia, leading to blindness in children as well as increased risk of illness.
Vegetables are a rich source of vitamin A, particularly dark green leafy vegetables. In rural areas, increased consumption of vegetables is the most appropriate way to prevent vitamin A deficiency. Home gardens are the ideal way to obtain vegetables cheaply.
A number of aid projects have worked on home gardens in Bangladesh, where average daily vegetable consumption is 32 grams, well below the recommended level of 200 grams. The Bangladesh Homestead Gardening Programme reaches 800,000 households. It has led to higher consumption of vegetables, year round rather than just at periods of peak availability.