Phytology – a medicinal meadow in Bethnal Green, London

Phytology aims to challenge perceptions surrounding the medicinal use, function and value of common plants and 'weeds' within our urban environment. Opening up a disused site in the middle of a housing estate in East London – a former churchyard which was bombed during WWII – the group has created a designated local nature reserve which plays host to a wide range of arts, music and wildlife activities. 

Grow Wild Community Project funding has enabled Phytology to fund internships and run activities that explore the medicinal properties of plants. This year they created a wild meadow area which they’ll use to cultivate common medicinal plants that can be made into natural remedies and teas. They’ve also offered work experience to young people and have been championing creative arts, with resident poets and writers, visiting artists, and their renowned campfire acoustic music nights.

Michael Smythe, project leader for Nomad who established the project, said, “We’ve helped to transform this piece of land from a seemingly abandoned site in Bethnal Green to a much loved and valuable resource that people care greatly about. The site is now known as an apothecary garden and cultural hub both locally and nationally. It has changed people’s perception of how land can be creatively used in cities such as London, which is a really powerful thing.”

The site is now well loved and constantly evolving. Members of the local community value the opportunity to connect to a wild space on their doorstep and learn more about common plants and their uses.