Grassroots LGBT gardening team from Dalston to take on professional groups at RHS flower show

Kad Karababa and Edward Jones in their garden.

Kad Karababa and Edward Jones in their garden. - Credit: Archant

An LGBT gardening group will compete against professionals a national flower show – despite not having an allotment of their own.

Rainbow Grow’s entry, “growing from pride to prejudice” will be part of the Royal Horticultural Society Hampton Court Palace event next month.

Without a public space for them to use, Clair Battaglino, a retired Islington teacher who runs the group, has filled her garden in Dalston Lane with plants and materials needed for the upcoming display.

It’s not the most convenient set up, but it’s obviously working.

She told the Gazette: “Every evening we have to clear the kitchen table so my partner and I can have dinner.”

By comparison, their competition have professional growing teams, dedicated admin support and “three of everything.”

What little funding they raise is to make sure that nobody has to pay to take part, in keeping with the group’s inclusive approach.

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Clair has even dipped into her pension fund to secure much needed supplies.

The group started initially as a float to enter into the London Pride parade using Clair’s horticultural expertise.

She said: “I have ten years experience in gardening. It started as way to show children where their food came from. We ended up winning three Islington bloom awards and the RHS five star accolade.”

Their appeal is that they provide emotional support while teaching people to grow food.

Many of their members lack access to a garden so being able to grow food in plant pots surrounded by supportive and like-minded people is valuable.

Alongside this, they also hold events such as film nights and barbecues.

When they are unable to find a space to do that, they hold these events in their houses.

They hope to secure funding from Tesco’s Bursting with Pride campaign which seeks to provide money to several LGBT groups. The top prize is £12,000.

Customers will be able to choose to support the group at participating Tescos in Stoke Newington and Shoreditch.

Fellow member Kad Karababa, also a teacher, added: “We are more than just a gardening group.

“The funding is vital to allow us to continue our meetings through the winter months when people’s mental health suffers more.”

The show takes place between July 2 and 8.