Design and Establishment of an Experimental Home Garden at El Edén

Juan J. Jiménez-Osornio

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.

This agroecosystem 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 maintained.


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 home gardens.

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.

Spanish Version