Floating gardens (Mexico, Bangladesh)
Floating gardens extend the growing area of rural communities where land is scarce. They are built by piling mud on top of anchored reeds in the water to construct a fertile bed for growing vegetables. The method is both cheap and sustainable.
The method dates from pre-Hispanic times in Mexico, when the Aztecs constructed chinampas or floating gardens in the canals of Lago Texcoco. The gardens became one of the most productive farming systems ever developed. By the time the Conquistadors came, the area of Xochimilco had become a rich agricultural district where many of the city's flowers, fruits and vegetables were grown. The gardens still produce flowers, fruits and vegetables today, and have become a favourite spot for both locals and tourists alike.
Floating gardens are amongst the options promoted to support the lives of the rural poor Bangladesh. Crops produced include Kang Kong (leafy vegetables), okra (lady's finger), gourd, brinjal (aubergine), pumpkin, and onions. When the rafts decay they are broken up and used as compost. A new raft is prepared for the next crop. The lives of once destitute families have been transformed by cultivating floating vegetable gardens on the Brahmaputra waters. As one farmer put it: “This has made a great difference to my life. Now I have enough food in the floods and I can give some to help my relatives as well”. Training on the construction and use of floating gardens is provided by Practical Action and Gono Unnayan Kendro (GUK), a local NGO.
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