Design and Establishment
of an Experimental Home Garden at El Edén
UADY - Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootécnia
Apdo. Postal 28
Col. CordemexMérida Yuc. 97110 México
fax: (99) 44-7293
Home gardens, commonly found throughout
Mesoamerica, are agroforestry systems that contain multipurpose trees,
shrubs, annual crops and various domesticated animals.
typically surrounds the family house, is mostly self-subsistent, and
can adapt to a variety of climatic conditions from
the dry lowlands to temperate highlands.
Since prehispanic times, the solar, the
local name for home garden in the Yucatan Peninsula, has played an important
role in terms of being the "experimental" fields for the campesinos;
this here is where domestication and diversification
takes place, management practices develop, and genetic resources are
An important aspect of these
solares is their high diversity per unit of area; they are considered
to be one of the most complex agricultural systems. An extensive amount
of research has been made on solares but has tended
to be descriptive with little know-how of the processes and mechanisms
involved in the sustainability of the system.
In this light, PROTROPICO with the joint collaboration of campesinos and researchers alike designed
three "experimental home gardens" of which one is located
in the El Edén Ecological Reserve.
The design of the
"experimental home garden" is the product of two workshops
conducted in 1994 with the attendance of campesinos from the community
of Sahcaba and various researchers from different national and international
institutions. These meetings generated discussions and suggestions of
the 'ideal' size of a home garden, animal and plant species to be included,
and what data recovery would be necessary during the establishment and
development of this agroecosystem.
The overall objectives of the project are to (1) identify
the ecological principles and processes responsible of the sustainability of home gardens; (2) conduct research on different
three-shrub-crop-animal combinations in space and time to determine
the possibility of making the system economically viable and; (3) develop
a simulation model of the solares using the data taken in the experimental
This presentation will provide preliminary data obtained
of this home garden experiment
since its initiation in 1996, the selection process used to determine
the area of cultivation and crop and plant species
to be used, and the problems and constraints experienced during the
establishment of the experimental solar.