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 pilot 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 three weeks a year since 2012 volunteering in Cameroon, West Africa, and started introducing keyhole gardens in Kumbo, the town I am based at there. Following successful Botanic Garden-supported grant applications in 2017 and this 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 2017 and again in January 2018. 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.
We’ve also been busy here in Wales, with a keyhole garden built in Swansea’s Quaker Meeting House garden, and plans to set up links between local and Cameroon schools.
Following a grant to Swansea Quakers from WREN (who sponsor community, diversity and heritage projects) to install railings to make it a secure space, we’re committed to developing the garden, located right in the middle of the city (St Helen’s Road), together with local community input. The major involvement has been from YMCA Swansea, across the road from the Meeting House.
Here’s their story, from Fruit-full Communities project officer David Kilner:-
YMCA Swansea was successful in gaining a place on the 2017 Fruit-full Communities scheme funded by the Big Lottery.
This secured funding and training to help design and create their own community orchard. Young people from the YMCA alongside staff and members of the Quakers have picked, planned, tasted and toiled with their Orchard design – all 14 trees are now planted! Cherries, 5 varieties of apple, plums and 2 types of pear.
You can find out more about this Learning through Landscapes project here http://www.fruitfullcommunities.org/about/ as well all the information you need to help get your own fruit trees planted. Now is the time – go out and plant!
More on the latest trip to Cameroon coming soon.