15 - The role of homegardens in strengthening social–ecological resilience: case studies from Cuba and Austria  pp. 261-282

The role of homegardens in strengthening social–ecological resilience: case studies from Cuba and Austria

By Christine Van der Stege, Brigitte Vogl-Lukasser and Christian R. Vogl

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Introduction

Worldwide homegardens are an integral part of rural and urban social–ecological systems. Often these gardens are small, not market orientated, not easily detected by outsiders and managed through low input practices. These might be reasons why they are neglected in agronomic research. In comparison, landscape planning and urban planning do focus on gardens, often from a recreational or environmentalist point of view, but highlighting less their important multifunctional contributions to the owning household and the community as a whole. Links between homegardens and the resilience of homegarden managers, their livelihood systems and rural landscapes still remain under-explored. To bridge this gap, this chapter investigates how homegardens contribute to increase social–ecological resilience of homegarden owners and the local community as a reaction to political and socioeconomic changes in Cuba and Austria.

The Cuban context

Many Cubans have witnessed the revolution in 1959, the US trade embargo since 1961 and the economic crisis, termed ‘Special Period’, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. These political events served to create constant changes in their lives, as regards changes in laws and living conditions, food security, access to markets and even religious freedom. Cubans also endure hurricanes on a regular basis.

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