RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
We are not discussing general issues of how to develop new research questions and hypotheses here. Many authors have already written about this, and their publications should be consulted before undertaking an ethnobotanical study on homegardens (Caballero 1992; Miles and Huberman 1994; Martin 1995; Alexiades and Sheldon 1996; Cotton 1996; Bernard 2002). However, we do present some examples of contemporary questions (Q) and hypotheses (H) that are basic to documenting homegardens as well as a few innovative ones that address current theoretical interests in ethnobotany and environmental anthropology, in general.
Q: Do attributes of the homegarden, gardener, and/or study area affect the floristic diversity of homegardens?
H: The further away a homegarden is from a retail outlet for produce (e.g., shop, market), the higher the diversity of species that the family needs for subsistence.
Q: Are “old,” nonhybrid varieties still grown in homegardens?
H: If older members of the family with “old-fashioned tastes” still live at the farm, then older, nonhybrid varieties of cultivated species will be found in homegardens.
Q: Who are the primary sources for information on gardening techniques?
H: Knowledge of gardening is primarily influenced by a gardener’s peer group, where they are or feel like a member, rather than their neighbors.
Q: Why do people have homegardens?
H: Poorer gardeners supplement their diet with homegarden produce; richer people use homegardens for pleasure and ornamental uses.
Q: Does the presence of certain plant species or varieties serve symbolic, metaphysical, or ritual purposes?
H: Colorful ornamental plants are more likely to have emotional significance for their owners than less colorful plants.
Q: Does gardening contribute to communication in the community or to separation?
H: Homegardens of wealthier farmers are more likely to serve as status locations for social functions.
Q: How and why does the floristic diversity of homegardens change over time?
H: Where women engage in wage labor and spend less time at home, floristic diversity decreases and low-maintenance species predominate.
Q: Do inhabitants of urban centers recognize the existence and contribution of farmers’ homegardens? What do they think about the purpose of homegardens? How does this correlate with the information provided by the owners of these homegardens?
H: Urban dwellers relying on supermarkets for food are more likely to be ignorant of homegardens and to hold negative stereotypes of farmers than those who shop at farmers’ markets or health food stores.