The project is aimed at young men living in remote rural villages with no access to electricity or running water. It is also mainly for those who either through choice or financial limitations have not attended school. These young men are these days feeling that there is nothing worthwhile for them to do in the provinces and are migrating to the city in search of work. Such work, when it is available, is very low paid because of their illiteracy and inability to speak English. This also leaves the village bereft of young men - leaving the women, children and old men to cope with their family farms. Areas of traditional tribal farmland are being left uncultivated resulting in a limited diet for the remaining villagers verging on severe food shortages and malnutrition at some times in the year.
Although gardening is culturally a women's pursuit, it is the men who need full- time employment in the villages to provide them with a permanent livelihood. Women already have many other chores and can therefore usually only work part time, whereas men have very few ways to earn money in the dry season.
We target young men between the ages of 20 and 35 as, in our experience, they are of a generation that not only still respect the ideas of their elders but they are also very open to new ideas - even unconventional ideas. They are also of an age when they are anxious to build up something permanent for themselves so that they can think about taking a wife and starting a family. The Home Farm Project is for private individuals - although the whole community benefits, the gardens are not owned by the community but by individuals.
I have seen numerous community garden projects in operation around the country and, although they are fine in theory, I found few of them actually worked well in practice for men. Community projects are usually too big, too expensive and too ambitious with a lot of hype and very little payback for the recipients. I also knew that I did not possess the diplomatic experience or skills required to run such politically delicate ventures. I instinctively wanted to keep this project small and personal. We have already proven that when the gardens are small and privately owned and established on a village by village basis, the incentive to make them work is far greater.