A farmer in Rwanda

Celebrity Gardener Toby Buckland urges us all to “use our gardens for good”

During lockdown many Britons turned to gardening with new-found – or renewed – enthusiasm. Now that coronavirus restrictions are easing in the UK, celebrity gardener and patron of the charity Send a Cow, Toby Buckland, is encouraging us to pay back what we’ve gained from our green spaces this past year – by helping people in Africa who are still at risk in the pandemic, and who are also on the frontline of the climate crisis.  

He’s suggesting sponsored garden campouts and other fundraising activities in our back or front gardens, or online

“African communities are still enormously vulnerable to the coronavirus,” he says. “We’ve done 40 million vaccinations in the UK – in Ethiopia they’ve only received nine million doses. And they’re also on the frontline of the climate crisis.  

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“For the farmers Send a Cow works with in rural Africa, gardens aren’t just for pleasure – they’re vital for growing food to feed their families. Now’s the time for us to ‘spring into action’ and use our gardens to raise money to support them.” 

The director of Send a Cow’s work in Ethiopia, Aklilu Dogisso, says: “Nine million vaccine doses may sound like a lot, but we have a population of 177 million people. We are definitely not through the worst of it yet.”   

Send a Cow is supporting the coronavirus effort in Ethiopia and across eastern Africa. Local lockdowns can be catastrophic for African farming families who may be cut off from their farms and local markets. With lower family incomes, girls are more likely to drop out of school, and the rates of teen pregnancy and marriage are rising.  

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By training people to make soap, and providing good quality seeds and planting advice for farmers, Send a Cow is supporting communities to protect themselves from coronavirus and ensure that food insecurity does not exacerbate the problems already faced.  

To lead the way, Toby Buckland will be doing a sponsored camp-out in his own garden this spring. As well as raising money, he’s looking forward to experiencing his garden in a new way.  

“I’ve spent hundreds of hours tending to my garden this year, so I’m well acquainted with the sounds of the bees, the colour of fresh green leaves and the cacophony of flowery, earthy scents. But I’ve never spent time in my garden overnight – I’m excited to experience it!” 

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You can join Toby in his fundraising effort by following the links on Send a Cow’s website [Send a Cow | Gardens for Good]. You don’t need to have a showcase garden to raise money from it, he says: “Everyone likes meeting their neighbours and seeing what they’ve done with their outdoor spaces.” And to help us get in the spirit, Toby is offering a chance to win two free tickets to Toby’s Garden Festival on 11th & 12th June, at Powderham Castle, Devon [tobygardenfest.co.uk]. Its easy to enter: either sign up for Gardens for Good at sendacow.org/gardens-for-good or post a photo of your favourite spring bloom on Instagram, and tag @sendacow. 

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Steve Ott
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