Given Kampala’s amazingly fertile soil it’s no wonder that gardens, flowers, and greenery abound. Yet, while plants seem to grow out of every crack, crevice and empty space in the city there are relatively few ‘green spaces’ maintained by professional gardeners. Now, one NGO is changing this with the development of a professional gardening cadre, the establishment of a garden centre and the launch of Kampala’s first Flower Festival.

The Community Integrated Development Initiatives (CIDI) was founded in 1996 as a Ugandan NGO. Its main aim was to combat poverty in both rural and urban areas and started they started the CIDI training centre in Kampala three years ago to help underprivileged youth to learn gardening and landscape design. A demand for professional gardening and landscaping in Kampala has increased yet there was no qualification to help people fill that demand. Now, the participants at the training centre do garden maintenance and landscaping for several high profile private clients and embassies – like the embassy of Sweden.

During their course, students learn how to break out of the typical ‘Kampala garden style’ where radical and obsessive trimming is the norm. Instead, they learn to take the nature of the plant into consideration and how to choose the right plant for the right place so it can unfold on its own into a natural growth space. In addition, they learn colour theory and the use of textures, sizes and shapes in design as well as plant arrangement and treatment and maintenance of plants for the healthiest of gardens. The course focuses on flowers and shrubs that are native to Uganda which help gardens to look more healthy and attract native birds and butterflies. After the young people finish their course the training centre they are helped to set up their own landscaping business or find qualified employment.

To help people learn more about both CIDI and plants, flowers, gardening, and exterior design in Uganda, CIDI is holding Kampala’s first Flower Festival on Saturday, 13 April 2013 from 12pm to 6pm. It will be a family day with a number of activities for adults and children. Displays of herbs, urban agriculture methods, vegetable and mushroom production will be available for viewing. People will also be welcome to stroll around the grounds, admire the gardens and get ideas for their own homes. Plants and equipment will be available for purchase as well as some companies selling furniture, ceramics, pots and glasses.

CIDI welcomes support and involvement. While students pay training fees CIDI sometimes helps subsidise these through donations of training materials or funds. They are also always looking for international professionals in the field to be guest lecturers or to talk about their businesses and experiences. If you, or someone you know, fits that bill please contact CIDI at: email: info@cidigardeningtc.org, phone: +256 (0) 414 510541 or visit their website at: www. cidigardeningtc.org. CIDI is located in Muyenga just off Zzimwe Road near the corner where the Italian Supermarket sits (map below).

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