Home Garden Production and Energetic Sustainability in Calakmul, Campeche, Mexico

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Abstract

Energy flows were studied for the 2002–2003 agricultural cycle in four households for which agriculture is part of a diversified survival strategy and four that practice agriculture as a business. Home garden inputs and outputs were measured monthly. Quantified inputs were: household labour, household agro-system production, and purchased external renewable and non-renewable energy. Outputs measured were: sales, family and animal foods. While both strategies had similar indicators in biomass and energy production, vegetable richness, and soil quality, household garden function and sustainability differed between subsistence and commercial householders. Subsistence gardens complemented family diet and contributed to household system resiliency. They relied heavily on renewable energy sources from within their agro-system. Gardens in commercial households reduced fruit tree area and increased animal husbandry for the market. They depended more on purchased non-renewable energy sources and were less sustainable and much less energy efficient than traditional gardens.

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