Rural Zimbabwe comes to RHS Chelsea

Bright colours and bold leaves will be bringing a corner of rural Zimbabwe to central London at the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show with CAMFED’s first ever show garden at the prestigious event.

Giving Girls in Africa Space to Grow‘ for sponsor The Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) draws its inspiration from the communities in which the charity works and the young women, once supported through school by CAMFED who are now establishing their own agricultural businesses.

The show garden is influenced by the places and people that the garden’s designer, Jilayne Rickards, encountered during a trip to Zimbabwe. Jilayne was particularly inspired by CAMFED alumna and Agricultural Entrepreneur, Beauty who experienced a difficult childhood seeing her parents struggle to make ends meet through small-scale market gardening. She was able to benefit from educational and training opportunities opened up to her by CAMFED and she now runs her own successful farming business. Beauty has been trialling iron-enriched beans to give people in her community, particularly expectant mothers, better nutrition and she plans to install a drip-irrigation system to help her manage periods of drought more effectively.

An important aspect of the garden will be its message about climate change and embracing innovation.

Designer, Jilayne Richards, points out that in the CAMFED garden every element will be functional as well as beautiful: “It is an exciting challenge to bring a corner of rural Africal to Chelsea,” she said.

For Jilayne, meeting people like Beauty prompted her to consider gardening with a fresh perspective as she witnessed Beauty’s determination to benefit her community through the plants she grows: “We hope that UK gardeners will take inspiration from CAMFED’s mission and from environmentally-friendly aspects such as the raised beds that showcase water conservation techniques,” adds Jilayne.

The Show Garden will be in the Space to Grow Category and forms part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of CAMFED. It will showcase trees, crops and bulbs typical of Zimbabwe, along with an outdoor learning space. After the show this unique garden will life on at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

CEO, Lucy Lake is delighted to be able to bring the surroundings of rural Zimbabwe to Chelsea: “This innovative garden designs illustrates how we support girls in the classroom and beyond, to reach their full potential,” she says. Lucy points out that for 25 years the charity has worked to educate girls and empower young women in sub-Saharan Africa: “We are working to equip more CAMFED alumnae to become sustainable agriculture experts, using their horticultural and entrepreneurial skills to provide nutrient-rich food, education and employment for people in their communities and to build resilience to climate change,” adds Lucy.

(pictured above) CAMFED is launching an ambitious campaign to grow 1,000 more women-led agricultural businesses across Africa. (image credit Brandon Smith)

The CAMFED garden will be built by Conway Landscapes and will combine colourful aesthetics with productivity, using plants with edible fruit, flowers, leaves or roots, to reflect the importance of horticulture as a source of food and income in rural Zimbabwe. Height and texture will be offered by large-leaved fruit trees including banana and papaya and added colour will come from red soil and rocks typical of the Zimbabwean landscape.

Alongside the garden, CAMFED will be launching a campaign to grow 1,000 women-led climate-smart agricultural businesses across Africa by 2020, part of their ambition to support 50,000 sustainable agri-businesses in just five years.

We are really looking forward to seeing this garden at Chelsea and wish Jilayne and the team well.

You can follow progress on the garden by visiting Jilayne’s blog here.

Further information on the work of CAMFED can be found at:

Picture credit: Strictly © banner: Jilayne Richards/CAMFED; middle: credit, Brandon Smith/CAMFED