The charitable side of ... The Chelsea Flower Show

Nathalie Thomas

How many good causes can you cram into a garden? Quite a few, thanks to the RHS.

It's hard to imagine how an annual event run by a charity for the benefit of that charity can get any more charitable. But the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show, held between 23 and 27 May, proves it is possible.

Cancer Research UK and international development charity GardenAfrica will feature among the show's 600 exhibitors this year, highlighting their causes to 157,000 visitors.

CRUK is jumping on the gardening bandwagon to remind people how to enjoy the outdoors safely and healthily. It has designed a garden around three key messages: eat healthily, stay in shape and be sun-smart.

The garden features a swimming pool and jacuzzi, shaded areas and edible plants such as blueberries - a rich source of vitamin C.

Herbs such as rosemary and oregano have also been included to help remind the public that half of all cancers could be prevented by a change in lifestyle.

GardenAfrica is using its plot at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea to launch its latest campaign. The charity, which organises agricultural projects in sub-Saharan Africa, will present a township garden. It hopes to plant 1,001 such gardens in southern Africa over the next five years.

"Our campaign has the potential to improve the lives of three million people," said Georgina McAllister, programmes director at GardenAfrica.

"Our aim is to promote sustainable land management with nutrition, food preparation, value-added production and business skills development."

GardenAfrica hopes the exhibition will attract sponsorship for its campaign.

The average sum needed for each garden is £10,000.

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