African Vision Malawi garden at Hampton Court
One of only six charities exhibiting at this year’s show, the African Vision Malawi garden is an installation intended as a narrative garden, where the viewer is invited to discover the effects of mono cropping. The garden questions our assumptions – a seemingly infinite supply of corn is presented to the viewer through an optical illusion. Peer within the port holes of the galvanized steel box and you’ll see a field of corn.
The metal of the galvanized steel wall represents the unfamiliarity of the industrialised world upon tribal communities in Malawi. The black aggregate represents the controversial ‘slash and burn’ method of agriculture used throughout Malawi, which in the short term can improve soil fertility but also has long-term negative aspects, such as erosion.
The charity, African Vision Malawi – http://www.africanvision.org.uk – has been operating in Malawi for 10 years with a focus on sustainable answers to issues faced by a rural community of 45,000 people. Food security is one of the major issues and past years of climate change, causing extreme rainy seasons, has had a serious impact as so many communities rely on mono-cropping their staple crop which is maize.
What are the alternatives without taking away their staple crop? ‘Three sisters’ is a complimentary planting term where crops are grown together; maize, beans and pumpkin. The maize takes out nitrogen but is a strong support plant, legumes enrich the soil with nitrogen and pumpkins are ground cover, keeping moister in the soil and weeds away. 3 crops instead of 1!
You can use the same technique of complimentary planting right at your home; no field to walk to and waste water to put on your medicinal and edible plants, that can be grown on your doorstep. Permaculture is a principle for ‘food security’ which means ‘earth care, people care, fair share’.
The garden’s designer, Gabrielle Evans, has a background in Fine Craft with a focus on wood and metal work. She started her own design practice with help from the Prince’s Trust and this will be her first show garden.
The Hampton Court Garden celebrates African Vision Malawi’s 10th anniversary.