9 May 2017

Keyhole garden links Wales with Cameroon

Ardd Fotaneg · Botanic Garden

In June 2014 I took part in a workshop on keyhole gardens, a course offered at the National Botanic Garden of Wales as part of the Growing the Future project.

Keyhole gardens are small, sustainable units for growing vegetables, designed to retain moisture and nutrients, originally developed in sub-Saharan Africa.

I have been spending 3 weeks a year since 2012 volunteering in Cameroon, West Africa, and I wanted to introduce them in Kumbo, the town I am based at there.

Following a successful grant application supported by the National Botanic Garden of Wales last year to Hub Cymru Africa (an international development organisation funded by the Welsh Government) to set up keyhole gardens in schools in Kumbo, my daughter Lizzie and I went out there in March this year.  The project is run at the Cameroon end by an NGO, Self Reliance Promoters (SEREP), which specialises in setting up sustainable projects which, when they are established, are run by local people with local resources.

Eight schools had already been selected to take part in the scheme, and we visited them all in our first week there, looking at where the keyhole gardens were going to be constructed.  Unfortunately one school had to be excluded as it did not have a suitable site for the garden.  We then ran a workshop with teachers and SEREP staff on constructing the gardens, based very closely on the GTF course.

During the following ten days, the seven schools involved all received the materials to build their gardens, which were completed by the time we left.  The plants for the gardens were started from seed in a nursery and are now being distributed round the schools.

It has been a wonderful opportunity to set up keyhole gardens in the environment for which they were originally designed, which we could not have done without the knowledge we gained from the GTF course and the financial support of Hub Cymru Africa.