Ecology is the discipline we are most interested in. It is a rich, fascinating and varied subject but we are aware that it can be daunting. Exploring our gardens and noticing the interactions that take place in them offers a practical way to engage with it.
We see our gardens as a microenvironment to learn more about all living beings, including ourselves, and how we can live together in harmony. We will never create prosperity if we fail to understand our surroundings, and that starts with observing the behaviour of plants and animals, the cycle of water, the power of soil, the composition of the air, the workings of the seasons, and so many other aspects of ecology and biology.
Tending to our garden is the basis of our ecological exploration, what drives our food advocacy, inspires our cultural programme and guides our passion for learning.
As part of our commitment to putting ecology at the centre of our discussions, we produce Where the Leaves Fall, a magazine that expands on all the conversations held at OmVed by exploring humankind’s connection with nature.
Food is a focal point between ourselves and the environment and an important tool to achieve sustainability, so it is a central topic for us. We are passionate about food that is organic, healthy, nutritious, sustainable and tasty.
We believe that there should be more discussion about food. Where does the food we eat come from? Is it healthy? Are our food systems sustainable? Are they resilient? These are some of the questions we like to put on the table together with the food we grow in our kitchen garden.
Food is a right, but the inability to obtain healthy affordable food is still a problem across the world. In London, more than 2.3 million people live below the poverty line and 33% of adults have skipped meals to save money so that their children can eat. This says a lot about our food system. Industrialisation, globalisation and monoculture have proved deeply unsustainable and our urban lives have made many forgot about the origins of food, its seasons, its diversity, its real taste and its value.
Supporting the 2nd of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals - to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030 - we strongly advocate a better food future. We do so by sharing and exchanging our experiences and knowledge about organic growing, healthy cooking, food preservation and composting.
At OmVed, food is grown organically by Vicky Chown, our Head of Urban Growing, with assistant food growers Randa Toko and Tejas Drawal and an enthusiastic team of volunteers and collaborators. Our harvest is cooked and preserved in our kitchen at the glasshouse by Jo March, our Zero Waste Chef and Head of Creative Cooking and Preserving, and other chefs that we invite to encourage diverse conversations.
Two strategic partnerships are making our food advocacy reach far and wide. OmVed Gardens is the London Action Hub of the UN World Food Programme - awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize - and The Chefs’ Manifesto, promoted by the SDG2 Advocacy Group. Together we seek to inspire people to make changes in their kitchens and communities and empower them to call on governments and companies to also play their part.
At OmVed, we are open to art in all its forms and we feel it is a powerful way to engage with nature. In fact, art was born as a record of our encounters with nature, and artists’ experiences with nature continue to inspire them today.
With its evocative and healing power, art can move us, engage our senses and positively affect our lives in a similar way to nature, so it is important for us to cultivate it and take care of it.
With this in mind, we use our glasshouse to host exhibitions and events that reflect on food, ecology and sustainability through the lens of divergent artistic disciplines including fine art, photography, sculpture, ceramics, music and film.
We believe that creativity, in all its forms, is key to balance old and new wisdom, to connect to our surroundings and to enact change.