Research Article

Development of Vegetable Nutrition Garden Model For Diet Diversification and Improved Nutrition Security of Urban and Peri-urban Households  

Salesh Kumar Jindal , Major Singh Dhaliwal
Department of Vegetable Science, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana-141004, India
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Horticulture, 2017, Vol. 7, No. 24   doi: 10.5376/ijh.2017.07.0024
Received: 25 Aug., 2017    Accepted: 01 Sep., 2017    Published: 29 Sep., 2017
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This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Jindal S.K., and Dhaliwal M.S., 2017, Development of vegetable nutrition garden model for diet diversification and improved nutrition security of urban and peri-urban households, International Journal of Horticulture, 7(24): 219-228 (doi: 10.5376/ijh.2017.07.0024)


Vegetables help combat malnutrition and diversify diets. Dietary diversification balances the diet by enhancing supply of essential micro-nutrients leading to improved health, enhanced thinking ability and increased efficiency. Improved vegetable nutrition garden is better than traditional homestead vegetable garden. The improved model involves many crops that can be repeatedly harvested to meet a family’s vegetable needs throughout the year. The crops and their varieties are scientifically selected to be highly nutritious with few pest and disease problems. The suggested model can produce 300 kg of vegetables annually, sufficient to meet vitamins and minerals requirement of a family comprising four members.

Household nutrition; Nutritional garden model; Vegetables

1 Introduction

Food security is a global a complex issue and remains a major challenge for developing countries. Food security is multidimensional and is presumed exists when is adequate and continuous food availability, access, and utilization in a sustainable manner. Several studies suggest that home gardens can be an option for food and nutritional security in disaster, conflict, and other post crisis situations (Marsh, 1998; Wanasundera, 2006; Galhena et al., 2013). Therefore, more attention towards home gardening as a strategy to enhance household food security and nutrition is to be needed. Globally, nutrition gardening contributes to household food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared and fed to family members, often on a daily basis. Even very poor, landless or near landless people practice gardening on small patches of homestead land, vacant lots, roadsides or edges of a field, simple hydroponics, or in containers. Gardening may be done with virtually no economic resources, using locally available planting materials, green manures, “live” fencing and indigenous methods of pest control. Thus, home gardening at some level is a production system that the poor can easily enter. Gardening provides a diversity of fresh foods that improve the quantity and quality of nutrients available to the family (Marsh, 1998). Nutrition gardening is especially important in rural areas where people have limited income-earning opportunities and poor access to markets. These gardens are also becoming an increasingly important source of food and income for poor households in peri-urban and urban areas (Christanty, 1990; Marsh, 1998; Shackleton et al., 2008). Nutrition gardening can be a profitable proposition in a country like India which is predominantly vegetarian and, as such, a large number of nutrients are obtained from vegetables for a balanced diet. Due to inadequate consumption of vegetables, deficiency of micro-nutrients especially of iron, vitamin A and iodine are prevalent in the developing world (Hall et al., 2009; Kanungsukkasem et al., 2009; Satheannoppakao et al., 2009; Leenders et al., 2013; NCCDPHP, 2013). The challenge of increasing vegetables consumption is a major concern for health professionals. An estimated 6.7 million deaths worldwide were attributed to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption in 2010 (Lim et al., 2012). Further, the vegetables reaching the market contain high amount of pesticide residues, it is of special interest to the consumers to grow their own vegetables for domestic consumption. Application of pesticides for insect-pest and disease management is discouraged in the nutrition gardens. Vegetables help combat malnutrition and diversify diets. Dietary diversification balances the diet by enhancing the supply of essential micro-nutrients leading to improved health, such as improving functions of the whole body, disease prevention, and delayed disease progression (Somsri et al., 2016), enhanced thinking ability and increased efficiency. Examples include improvement in micro-vascular reactivity (Macready et al., 2014), better cognitive performance (Nyaradi et al., 2014), decreased risk of colorectal cancer (Zhong et al., 2014), reduce the risk of overweight (Howarth et al., 2001; Tohill, 2005), coronary heart disease (Dauchet et al., 2006; He et al., 2007; Hartley et al., 2013), and reduced risk of kidney disease (Goraya et al., 2013). Melina (2012) suggested that "a menu filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables could provide a big nutritional boost", and vegetables were packed with fiber and water, and were low in fat, they decreased the calorie density of diet, while boosting overall nutrition. It was evident from the literature that home gardens are a part of agriculture and food production systems in many developing countries and are widely used as a remedy to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in the face of a global food crisis (Johnson et al., 2000). Mitchell and Hanstad (2004) reported that home garden provided multiple social benefits such as enhancing food and nutritional security, empowering women, promoting social justice and equity, and preserving indigenous knowledge and culture and so on. One of the primary objectives of this study is to develop nutrition garden model especially for urban and peri-urban households which ensure healthy diet that contains adequate quantities of vitamins and macro and micro-nutrients by producing diverse kinds of vegetables.


2 Results and Discussion

The results in Figure 1 showed that 298 kg (grand mean over years) of vegetables per annum were obtained from the given model of 36 m2. Experimental vegetable gardens yield 0.22-1.22 kg/day from 18 m² (AVRDC, 1985), and an average of 1.5 kg of produce per day in a Thai home garden can be obtained (Gershon et al., 1986). The yield of each vegetable is given in Table 1. It was recorded that summer leafy vegetable kangkong gave maximum yield of 23.53 kg from an area of 2 square meters followed by carrot (20.80 kg), chinese cabbage (17.17 kg), basella (15.80 kg), mint (15.62 kg) and so on. The monthly availability of vegetables for a family was also calculated and given in Table 2.


Figure 1 Yield performance of vegetables in home garden at two locations in PAU


Table 1 Performance of each vegetable in home garden (Mean over two locations)


Table 2 Fortnightly availability of vegetables (kg) in nutrition garden (Mean over two locations)


It was recorded that during the month of January, 50.50 kg of vegetables were produced (Table 3) followed by February (45.85 kg), May (39.48 kg), October (32.81 kg), September (28.13 kg), December (23.38 kg), June (22.83 kg), November (20.91 kg), August (13.92 kg) and April (10.55 kg). Shaheb et al. (2014) also reported that highest amount of vegetables (55 kg) produced in the month of December followed by May (50 kg) and January (45 kg). During the months of July and March, the yields of vegetables were 6.98 kg and 3.10 kg respectively. The low yield of vegetables during these months was due to the fact that most of the summer vegetables were sown/ transplanted in the month of March and kharif vegetables were sown/ transplanted in July. Similarly, fortnightly availability of vegetables were also calculated and given in Table 4. The results of this investigation indicate that mean vegetables produced during first and second fortnight of January (25.40 kg, 25.10 kg), February (24.97, 20.88), March (1.63, 1.47), April (3.20, 7.35), May (15.10, 24.38), June (11.52, 11.32), July (3.38, 3.60), August (6.28, 7.17), September (13.85, 14.28), October (15.49, 17.32), November (9.45, 11.46), and December (11.23, 12.12), respectively, and total vegetables means of all the months were 141.50 kg and 156.45 kg, respectively. This shows that there was continuous availability of vegetables during first and second fortnight of all months.


Table 3 Monthly availability of vegetables (Kg) in nutrition garden

Note: VRF-vegetable research farm; VTF: vegetable teaching farm


Table 4 Calculated nutritional yield and contribution of designed nutrition garden to the household diet


Households with gardens typically obtain from them more than 50 percent of their supply of vegetables. Talukder et al. (2000) asserted that children in households with garden consumed vitamin A-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables and yellow fruits, more frequently than did children in households without a garden or with a traditional garden. Very small mixed vegetable gardens can provide a significant percentage of the recommended dietary allowance for protein (10-20 %), iron (20 %), calcium (20 %), vitamin A (80 %) and vitamin C (100 %) (Marsh and Talukder, 1994; AVRDC, 1983-89). Though, all the nutritive daily requirements for an adult cannot be met with this suggested nutrition garden model but this model supplements major share of the daily requirements. The nutritive value of all these vegetable crops is given in Table 4. Average daily nutrient requirement of an adult is; 10-20 mg iron, 3000-10,000 IU vitamin A, 1.5 mg riboflavin, 600 mg calcium and 50 mg vitamin C (Indian Council of Medical Research, 2010). This nutrition garden provides 6387 IU vitamin A, 11.62 mg iron, 315 mg calcium and 105 mg vitamin C per day to each adult in the family. This showed that availability of vitamin A, iron and vitamin C is at par or higher than the daily requirement. Thus this model is able to meet daily requirement of vitamin A, iron, and vitamin C of family. Although, there is daily availability of 315 mg calcium per adult but its requirement of 600 mg can be met with the consumption of milk and milk products as these are the richest source of calcium. 


Though vegetables are recognized as the most important source of these micronutrients, yet the per capita vegetable consumption in India (86 g/day) is far below the FAO’s recommended (200 g/day). The limited supply of vegetables, especially during the off-season, higher market price and lower appreciation or awareness regarding their consumption are key factors that limit the vegetable consumption rate in the developing world. One way to achieve this goal is to increase the nutritional status and income of people through research, development, training and extension of school, home and market garden technologies (Chadha and Oluoch, 2003). According to Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, an adult requires 125 g green leafy vegetables, 75 g other vegetables and 100 g roots and tubers per day while, this garden provides 120 g green leafy vegetables, 125 g other vegetables and 28 g root vegetables to each adult (Figure 2). As potato and sweet potato which constitute important tuber crops are not included in the model, an adult completes its vegetable requirement by consuming these tubers. Tubers are group of crops where freshness is not as important and can be stored for longer periods.


Figure 2 Comparison between requirement of vegetables as per ICMR and availability through studied nutrition garden


The model has been tested at 2000 farm families in 20 districts of the Punjab state to judge the response regarding the model. The sizes of nutrition garden of framer families were measured which concluded that 53.2 percent families i.e. 1064 families grow vegetables in more than 40 square meter area, which is followed by 29.3 percent that grow in 21-40 sq. meter area (585 families), third are the families which grow vegetables in between 11-20 sq. meter area consists of 11.6 percent i.e. 262 families. Only 4.4 percent (89 families) grow vegetables below 10 sq. meter area (Table 5). Due to its affordable plot size and more number of crops produce per unit area, the model was widely popular not only in rural but also with the urban and peri-urban households. The survey conducted in 50 nutrition gardens spread all over the state also showed that this model is sufficient for a small family of four members (Table 6). It was found that only 5.6 hours per week are sufficient to maintain nutrition garden on an area of 6 × 6 square meters. Hoogerbrugge and Fresco (1993) also reported that total working time is spent on home garden activities are less than one hour per day or 4.5 hours per week.


Table 5 Size of kitchen garden holdings*

Note: Annual progress report 2011-12, RGRC, PAU, Ludhiana


Table 6 Survey on acceptability of vegetables in home garden

Note: Department of Foods and Nutrition, College of Home Science


3 Materials and Methods

A vegetable nutrition garden model has been designed for an area of 6 x 6 square meters to meet the daily vegetable requirement of a family of 4 members (2 adults and 2 children). Thirteen year round cropping sequences (Figure 3) have been recommended keeping in view the availability of 27 seasonal vegetables (Table 7). The time of sowing, spacing, plot size and plant population per plot are also given in Table 7. The packages of practices followed to raise vegetables in nutrition garden were as per recommendations of the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab, India (Anonymous, 2011).


Figure 3 Layout and planning of 6 x 6 square meter vegetable nutrition garden


Table 7 Cropping span and agronomic practices in a 6 × 6 m nutrition garden


The model was set up at two locations; one at Vegetable Research Farm and other at the Vegetable Teaching Farm, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab, India. The crops in the designed cropping sequence include: cowpea, mint, coriander, bottle gourd, radish, lettuce, brinjal, chilli, amaranthus, sponge gourd, tomato, longmelon, okra, cucumber and capsicum as the summer vegetables and onion, garlic, methi, coriander, vegetable mustard, Chinese cabbage, garden pea, broccoli, carrot, lablab, palak (beet leaf) as the winter vegetables. Two non-conventional leafy vegetable crops viz., kangkong and basella meant for saag (pot herb) preparation in summer months have been included in the model. Most of the vegetables in the nutrition garden are direct sown except tomato, chilli, capsicum, onion, brinjal and broccoli. The seedlings of transplanted vegetables can be sown nearby nutrition garden. The success or failure of establishing transplants is plant age. All vegetable transplants have an ideal age/size that enables them to continue active growth after transplanting. For example, the ideal age for tomato transplants was 3-4 weeks, chilli and capsicum was 5-6 weeks. Vegetables like gourds, tomatoes, chilli, brinjal etc need more space between plants than leafy and bulb vegetables like amaranthus, palak, onion, garlic etc. The sowing of leafy and salad vegetables like methi, palak, coriander, amaranthus, kangkong, basella; fruit vegetable like okra and root vegetables such as carrot and radish need to be staggered over several weeks so that they continue to supply vegetables over a longer period of time. Cucurbitaceous vegetables such as bottle gourd, sponge gourd, long melon, cucumber, summer squash, bitter gourd and squash melon; and tomato are weak stemmed and were staked or trained upright/vertically with the help of nylon ropes tied to bamboo at a height of eight feet for production of good quality fruits. The yield data for each vegetable were recorded at both the locations during 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, and were averaged out.


4 Conclusions

In nutshell, nutrition gardening is the easiest way to ensure access to a healthy diet that contains adequate amounts of essential nutrients by producing diverse kind of vegetables. Vegetable nutrition garden can be established on a small piece of land provides healthy and pesticide free vegetables for the family. Thus, fresh and safe to eat vegetables will be available for domestic consumption all the year round and improved consumption of vegetables will help to address nutrient deficiency disorders like anemia, goiter, night blindness and so on.


Authors' contributions

SKJ: Participated in the designing of the study and carry out the work and draft the manuscript; MSD: Helped in collecting materials used in research programme.



This work was supported by a grant from AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center-Shanhua, Tainan, Taiwan.


Conflict of interest

The authors have not declared any conflict of interest.



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