Will Poor People Grow Vegetables? What Makes Poor People Poor?

peterchristopher's picture

Recently posted from Honduras is this question: is it worth trying to teach poor people to improve their lives by growing vegetables?  


It reminded me of a time in Nicaragua when I had a farm there.  Every family seemed to have a few cows, goats, pigs and chickens that wandered the streets, making it impossible to have much of a garden without a serious wall or fence.   Even those with walls/fences often needed to keep their animals inside at night, so their yards were also just bare of vegetation.  Which is to say - it's not simply a matter of wanting to plant vegetables or being dedicated, but whether they would dedicate such a huge amount of resources to buy land and build a wall (even if they had the financial resources) before planting or weeding.

I remember one local man telling me, "I tried to plant pepper plants once, I had many of them - but most of them were destroyed by animals; the few that remained, the neighbors stole the peppers when they were green.  Never planted them since."

Of course, there are a few people who do plant vegetables - but they already have walls set up to keep out the animals, a gun and dogs to keep out the neighbors.


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 it must be possible for

 it must be possible for people to cooperatively occupy open land, cultivate it efficiently, and reap the fruits of their labour, without involving theft.

Permaculture Gardens

Well I would say that there are many different circumstances and variations. Being from Nicaragua, I would agree with Peter that those are some of the considerations to take when planting gardens in Nica. However, I've seen many different applications of growing your own food. I would say that much more succesful and beneficial is the planting of fruit trees. Nicaragua has a good tradition of growing fruit trees although people realize it less as of late. That is probably the healthiest form of agriculture (permaculture) depending on your circumstances, you can experiene having some of the fruits of the trees taken but I think its manageable.

Either way we have to expand our cummunity based agriculture. If there are setbacks we need to keep trying to improve upon them. Hopefully,  the more people do it on the own the more likely they are to respect each others work.


See this good video:

Natural World - A Farm for the Future


Thanks for the mention

Thanks for the mention, Peter. I'd love to hear from more of your readers on this subject if they have anything to share.

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