I'm a researcher and writer inspired by plants, their importance to people and the uses people make of them. Over the years I've been involved in numerous projects and opportunities to explore this interest, covering a wide range of subjects, from spices and medicinal plants in world trade, to the significance of monkey puzzles in Chile - trees sacred to the Pehuenche people who take their name from them - and the fig trees of India, still revered by millions. My most recent book Birch explores the cultural and ecological importance of birch trees.
This website - still in development - reflects my interest in the importance of food plants as markers of identity and belonging - an interest that began long ago with a study of the importance of manioc (Manihot esculenta) to Matsigenka communities of the Lower Urubamba, Peru.
Food plants are celebrated all round the world and by all sorts of people: in urban settings, in towns and villages as well as in remote or once remote regions where traditional methods of growing and harvesting have developed or been passed down over hundreds, sometimes thousands of years.
Traditional growers and those who grow for competition purposes are generally passionate about their food plants - they provide not just food, or an edible commodity but a source of pride and identity which are powerful markers of purpose and self-worth.
In our increasingly urbanised and commercialized world these deep connections are as important as ever, reinforcing our fundamental dependence on the plants that sustain us.