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Dirt on our hands: Overcoming botany’s hidden legacy of inequality

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Dirt on our hands: Overcoming botany’s hidden legacy of inequality 

In this special episode of Unearthed, professional plant geek, author, and broadcaster James Wong explores the histories of inequality and personal experiences that lie behind a seemingly democratic and wholesome world of plants. 

From the colonial history of plant collections and our perceptions of what form a ‘traditional’ garden should take, to accessing education, careers, and green spaces themselves, our relationship with nature is not without its barriers, some of which are still to be overcome.

Joined by a panel of contributors, James debates what could be done to make the garden, and all that comes with it, open to all.

Historians, practitioners, plant scientists and horticulturalists share their observations and knowledge on how the past and present are complicated by racial inequality, legacy of empire and an exploitation of land and people.

In turn, RBG Kew is committed to revealing and restoring a story that has not often been told, and making its spaces more welcoming and reflective for the communities that are represented in the collections.  

This episode features: 

Advolly Richmond – a garden landscape and social historian and BBC Gardener’s World presenter. 

Richard Choksey – a graduate of Kew’s diploma in botanical horticulture and landscape gardener who is currently studying for a Masters in global history. 

Renee Cawthorne – Manager of First Nations Education and Engagement at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. 

Kew botanist Sophie Richards leads an open conversation with Kew’s Director Richard Deverell on the path ahead.  

And Tayshan Hayden-Smith tells James how his community gardening initiative created a vital place for connection in a West London housing estate, in the wake of Grenfell.  


Grow2Know is empowering more diverse communities through horticulture http://www.grow2know.org.uk

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

Richard Choksey https://richardchoksey.wixsite.com/variationsoneden

Advolly Richmond https://advolly.co.uk

Find out more about the work Kew is doing at https://www.kew.org


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The way we produce and consume food is having a devastating impact on our natural world. How can we 
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