The structure, composition, and functions of homegardens: Focus on the Yucatan Peninsula

D.G. Lope-Alzina, P.L. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Homegardens have been the subject of much research since at least the 1970s, with scientific knowledge constantly advancing. This paper is built on the premise that the first step toward understanding homegardens is to examine their three main axes: structure (horizontal, vertical, and their chronological dimension), composition (living species, mainly), and functions 0ncluding their relations to use values). While referring to homegarden research across the globe, the focus is on one of the world regions with the highest levels of species diversity in homegardens, and where most Latin American research has been carried out: the Yucatan Peninsula. Some 40 studies of homegardens in this region were identified and reviewed, and their findings, with respect to the structure, composition, and functions of homegardens, are presented and analyzed. Some of these studies have also attempted to assess the relations between homegarden structure, composition, and functions, and other phenomena such as age and size of homegardens, distance to urban centers, regional economic specialization, and migration. This paper identifies both the contributions that have been made to understand Yucatecan homegardens as well as the gaps that remain in this and other homegarden research, with an emphasis on the relations between social and agroecological phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-41
JournalRevista Etnoecologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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