Gardening the Botswana way
One of the huge benefits of being editor of Kew magazine – if you don't know Kew magazine by the way, take a look – is the wonderful stories about Kew’s work that land on your desk. Stories that not only take you by surprise but ones that really inspire you.
Kew magazine is quarterly but we could fill up a monthly magazine with the amount of tales of great work that staff do here (thank goodness for this new website with all the space for these stories online now).
One such incident happened while I was editing a piece about meadow conservation at Wakehurst Place for our summer issue when a phone call came through from our press office – did I know that not only was Paul Smith, Head of the Millennium Seed Bank Project going to Botswana to meet seed collectors out there but they would also be opening a new community garden near Gabarone (home of the Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency). Not only this but reporters from the BBC and The Observer would be accompanying Paul. The more I found out about the work in Botswana and about this new community garden the more I knew we had to cover this story in the magazine to show how Kew has such a global reach to help people around the world.
The garden (being planted in the image here) is only the second to be created in Botswana with the help of the Useful Plants Project – a partnership project run as part of the work of the MSBP. It is being filled with useful, edible and medicinal plants that will help the local village thrive and mean that they will not have to risk foraging for wild plants – a risk to both their lives (lion attacks – I kid you not) as well as a risk to the wild populations of native plant species. Gardening in this way – ‘allotmenteering’ almost – is a new thing in Botswana. People really know their plants but they harvest them from the wild (see the image below of the village chief) rather than grow them. With help from the MSBP staff, villagers now have all the information necessary to grow what they need successfully. Something to think about next time you are watering your carrots down at your own plot.
Richard Scrase, who went on the trip (and took the images you can see on this page), and produced a programme for the BBC World Service about his experience, has now written an excellent piece for us on this topic for the autumn issue of Kew magazine with some wonderfully atmospheric images of the Kalahari, the people and the plants. So look out for the issue - it's available from 9 September. You can buy Kew magazine in the Kew and Wakehurst Place shops, via kewbooks, or by becoming a Friend of Kew.
Keep your eyes peeled on this website too for more on the MSBP this autumn – some great stories are coming your way.
Images are copyright of Richard Scrase.
Christina accepts a Kew Publishing award at the Garden Media Guild awards in 2012.
Christina joined Kew in 1999 after finishing a BSc. degree in Plant Ecology and an Advanced National Certificate in Horticulture. After initially working as a horticulturist in Kew’s Arboretum and the Hardy Display section (on the Grass Garden) she went on to become Festivals Interpretation Officer between 2002-2008, helping Kew’s onsite visitors understand what makes Kew tick. In the meantime she completed an MA in Garden History, a subject that continues to be one of her passions.
Christina was short-listed for a Garden Writers Guild award in 2007 for one of her articles in Kew magazine, and is the author of Kew’s Big Trees, published in 2008. She became editor of Kew magazine in September 2008. “I see Kew magazine as a window on the world of Kew,” she says. “I hope between its pages the many facets of Kew’s work and the people who make it happen are revealed for all to see and encourage readers to continue to support Kew.”
- around the world
- ground breaking
- the UK
- at risk
- needs help
- english heritage
- Kew overseas
- verge of extinction
- wet tropics
- gifts that help
- of use
- hot spot
- South East Asia
- english garden
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