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Phytology is a cultural institute based at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in Tower Hamlets, East London.

We host an annual residency for researchers working across the arts, architecture, science and humanities. Our public programme actively engages with the environmental and social complexities of the surrounding urban landscape. The projects page on this website highlights some of our past and current work.

Due to COVID-19 our 2020 programme is suspended until further notice. Please check this website or our social media platforms for updates.

You can also contact the Phytology team directly by emailing – info@nomad.org.uk

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Phytology is a Nomad Projects commission.

Supported by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England.

Site credits: Design by Modern Activity, build by Patrick Best.

The Phytology Team

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Rasheeqa Ahmad (Medical Herbalist) is a qualified medical herbalist based in Walthamstow, East London.

She trained at the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine in Glasgow and at Middlesex University (Archway Herbal Clinic) in London, gaining a 1st-class Honours degree and the Ellis Snitcher Memorial Prize for Integrative Medicine in 2012.

Rasheeqa leads on the Mobile Apothecary project alongside a growing network of talented volunteers spanning the areas of arts, herbalism, and horticulture/growing. Since April 2019, she has been bringing people together to collectively learn about medicinal plants and create herbal medicine at Phytology, for distribution to fellow community members facing barriers to health, food, and shelter. 

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Hari Byles (Community Gardener, Cultural Producer) is a researcher and composter whose focus is on accessibility, sustainability, soil and alternative sanitation. They have worked for a number of food growing projects across London through which they aim to bring ecological and social justice together through everyday actions and inventive methods. They have recently completed their studies in soil microbiology and microscopy with Dr Elaine Ingham, and are developing a soil care and alternative sanitisation coop based at the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. Hari is also part of the Roving Microscope Club, focused on facilitating conversations about soil health and our relationship to microbes. 
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Margaret Cox (Trustee) is a local instigator of one of the largest networks of community allotments in East London, transforming her estate into a food growing hub. She is also the Chair of the Teesdale & Hollybush Tenants and Residents Association, which have taken stewardship of the 1-acre parcel of land, known as Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, since the late 1990s. Cox has lived in the neighbourhood since she was 9, and has been visiting and caring for the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve for the past 50+ years. She referred to herself as the Nature Reserve's “Mum”.
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Ingrid Chen (Trustee) is an outdoor education expert with several years experience leading forest schools in the East End. She works at Columbia Rd Primary and has established multiple outdoor education hubs, enabling children and their families to connect and better understand the natural world found within the city.
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Neil Davidson (Chair) is a Landscape Architect and Partner of J & L Gibbons, Director of Landscape Learn and a research partner of Urban Mind. His expertise includes sub-regional strategic plans, public realm frameworks, heritage landscapes and public parks. He has worked and lectured in Europe and the United States and is a Built Environment Expert for the Design Council CABE.
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Glenda Trew (Trustee) is a urban farming advocate and master composter who has established over 20 community garden projects working alongside the Women’s Environmental Network. She is an experienced teacher, delivering hands-on community focused food growing workshops, specialising in non-traditional UK crops. Glenda is also a world renowned Oware champion, currently ranked 1st in the UK!
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Olly Edmonds (Ecologist) is an experienced Field Ecologist with over six years’ professional consultancy experience in undertaking protected species surveys and ecological appraisals for a wide range of development project. Bats are Olly’s ecological specialism and alongside bat roost character and activity surveys, he has experience in endoscope work, tree surveys and internal and external building inspections. Olly also has extensive experience in relation to other taxa and European Protected Species (e.g. badger, birds, bats, great crested newt, hazel dormouse, otter, reptiles and water vole), alongside Phase 1 habitat surveys, Preliminary Ecological Appraisals and BREEAM/CSH assessments. He has also developed skills in data analysis, report writing, and designing, implementing and overseeing mitigation strategies as an Ecological Clerk of Works.
 
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Ken Greenway (Trustee) is Manager of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, turning the once-overgrown burial grounds in Mile End into a popular 21st century community and ecology hub. You’ll often find Ken leading large groups of volunteers, litter picking, delivering Forest School, or running very popular foraging tours & bat walks. He is an accredited funeral celebrant at Humanists UKHorticulture Manager at Grounded Ecotherapy: Recovery for people & places and 'Come Dine With Me' winner in his spare time.
 
 
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Amina Haque (Treasurer) is has worked as a finance officer for a number of charities including Forum for the Future, British Lung Foundation and Bow Arts Trust. Amina has recently pursued her own horticultural interests, growing and selling an extensive range of cacti & succulents. 
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Shumaisa Khan (Community Gardener, Researcher) interests have taken her through the realms of social sciences, international development, and grassroots movements, all underpinned by her interest in advancing ecological and social justice. In recent years, she has also been exploring traditional healing systems, plant medicine, and regenerative food systems as vehicles to repair both cultural and ecological distress. She feels arts and humanities are crucial, particularly at this juncture of extreme polarisation, in facilitating different ways of expression, and creating spaces for dialogue and reflection.
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.Naseem Fatima Khan OBE, 11 August 1939 – 8 June 2017 (Co-Founder) was a British journalist, activist, cultural historian and educator who was influential in effecting policy change about cultural diversity. She wrote a report entitled The Arts Britain Ignores in 1976, which was the first major study highlighting the integral part played in UK culture by black and Asian artists, and also that year she founded the Minority Arts Advisory Service (MAAS). As a journalist she was one of the first theatre reviewers for Time Out magazine, and later wrote regularly for publications including the New Statesman, The Guardian and The Independent.

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Michael Smythe (Co-Founder, Secretary) is an artist and creative director of Nomad Projects, an independent arts foundation that develops experimental projects across digital and location-specific spaces. Nomad Projects critically engages with issues surrounding environmental and social justice within the urban landscape. Michael studied installation, performance and art history at the Australian National University, Canberra, and Hochschule Der Künste, Berlin.
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