Human Ecology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 55–77 | Cite as

Home Gardens Sustain Crop Diversity and Improve Farm Resilience in Candelaria Loxicha, Oaxaca, Mexico

  • Mariel Aguilar-StøenEmail author
  • Stein R. Moe
  • Sara Lucia Camargo-Ricalde


Home gardens are land use units embedded in a larger land use system, in this case in Candelaria Loxicha, Oaxaca, Mexico. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, we investigated how home gardens are integrated into local farming practices and how these influence biodiversity. Our findings suggest that home gardens harbour high levels of biodiversity, which are maintained and enriched by farmers’ practices, particularly plant and seed exchange. Plant diversity is higher in younger home gardens and in home gardens where owners actively exchange plant material with other people. Through plant exchange, seed storage, and the dispersion of seeds and plants in different land uses, farmers encourage plant diversity and consequently increase the resilience of their farming system in changing climatic, demographic and economic conditions. Both men and women participate in the establishment, care and management of home gardens, but they are responsible for different plants and home garden functions. For economic reasons, the inhabitants of Candelaria Loxicha are increasingly engaging in international migration. Migrants, upon their return bring new ideas and plants that might transform the rural landscape.


Home gardens Socioecological systems Farmers’ experimentation Farmers’ knowledge Agrobiodiversity 



The authors would like to thank the people of Candelaria Loxicha who kindly shared their time and views with us. Helpful reviews of the manuscript were provided by Harold Wilhite and four anonymous referees. The research presented in this article was in part funded by the Norwegian Research Council project number 158984/510.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariel Aguilar-Støen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Stein R. Moe
    • 2
  • Sara Lucia Camargo-Ricalde
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Development and the EnvironmentUniversity of OsloBlindernOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Natural Resource ManagementNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  3. 3.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad IztapalapaMexico DFMexico

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