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Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - 12:30
The CAMFED African Garden, soon to be on show at the Eden Project in Cornwall, won a prestigious gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show today (Tuesday May 21, 2019).
The garden shines a spotlight on climate-smart, sustainable agriculture led by female farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. 
The charity CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education) supports the most excluded girls and young women to go to school, succeed, and then become leaders in their communities.
In blazing sunshine and in front of a mass of media cameras, the gold medal was welcomed with loud cheers, dancing and tears of joy at the world’s most famous flower show.
Sinikiwe Makove, Head of Programmes for CAMFED in Zimbabwe, said: “For me, winning a gold, what this garden has done is bring out a recognition of the power that lies in women to not only give birth to children but to protect them, even in difficult circumstances. This is about the unsung rulers – women who work hard all the time to make a difference in their families and communities.”
Garden designer Jilayne Rickards, who grew up in Cornwall, created the garden after being inspired by visiting CAMFED in Zimbabwe.
When the show is over, the garden will be transferred to Eden, home of the world-famous Biomes, so that it can be enjoyed by around one million visitors a year.
Eden horticulturist Sarah Northcott led the growing of nearly 1,000 plants at the Eden Project nursery. Some were grown at the nursery by People and Gardens, which works with people with physical and emotional impairments.
Designer Jilayne is a first-time exhibitor at Chelsea and had no previous experience of creating a show garden. She said: “What an honour to win gold. This is a fabulous recognition of CAMFED’s inspiring work in Africa and the impact they have on local communities – tackling gender inequality and poverty in one go.
“We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve had Eden’s support in growing and delivering the many different and unusual plants. I was so proud to be working with Eden – Paul, Sarah and the team did a magnificent job. To know that our garden will live on at Eden following the show and continue to raise awareness about CAMFED’s See Growth campaign is especially inspiring.”
Eden Head of Horticulture Paul Stone said: “The award is a tribute to the great work being done by climate-conscious, forward-thinking women in Africa who are being supported by CAMFED.
“We share with CAMFED a commitment to sustainable agriculture and education and have been very happy to partner with them on such an inspiring garden. We look forward to continuing to tell this inspirational story when the garden comes to the Eden project later this year.”
CAMFED graduates are trained to gain expertise in growing nutrient-rich crops. They learn to deploy climate-smart technologies and horticultural techniques to grow a sustainable farming business that can support their local communities.
The garden includes food crops developed and delivered by an international science
collaboration, HarvestPlus, which receives funding from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). These include Vitamin A-rich maize and sweet potatoes, as well as beans enriched with iron, which are therefore also higher in zinc, supporting good nutrition, especially in mothers and babies.
Garden designer Jilayne’s inspiration for the garden came from her visit to Zimbabwe last year when she met Beauty Gombana, who was supported through her education and who now runs her own agricultural business.
Beauty now employs local staff, and is a role model to other school girls.  She allows her business to be used as a learning resource and also funds other girls to go to school.