Food Forever: the future of food in a changing world at Kew Gardens

Exciting summer programme in 2022 to highlight how what we eat can help us protect our planet and conserve biodiversity

From Saturday 21 May – Sunday 18 September 2022

  • Kew’s exciting 2022 summer programme shines a light on the fragile future of food
  • Food Forever to explore how the food choices we make impact the planet
  • Large-scale art installations form an interactive trail around the gardens
  • Film screenings and talks from food innovators, scientists, and chef collaborations
  • Immersive art exhibition from Pip & Pop in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art

Food: we love it, and we can’t live without it. In a rapidly changing world, the food we eat is changing too. Across summer 2022, Kew Gardens will host a brand-new summer programme, Food Forever, exploring the future of food, taking visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site on a thought-provoking journey exploring the impact which our day-to-day eating habits have on the world around us. As well as a host of large-scale art installations, screenings and talks, Food Forever will also feature contributions from pioneering scientists at Kew who are working hard to research the importance of sustainable food production and consumption with partner organisations all over the world.

Each of the large-scale contemporary art installations which visitors can discover on a self-led trail around Kew Gardens highlights a different aspect of modern food consumption or production, including sustainability, future foods and the food security. Exploring a variety of themes through these enthralling art works, visitors will be able to reflect on what we can do to combat climate change and biodiversity loss.

Art installations

Food Forever incorporates a series of large-scale contemporary art installations using the medium of art to highlight a different aspect of modern food consumption or production.

Danish artist Thomas Dambo brings a brand- new work to Kew for Food Forever. Constructed using reclaimed and recycled timber, London Trolls uses mythological figures to tell a timely tale about humanity’s relationship with the natural world. These larger-than-life sculptures will come to life against the backdrop of Kew Gardens’ UNESCO World Heritage site, allowing visitors to engage with themes of sustainability and the environment as they explore Food Forever.

Shooting at Hunger by Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey incorporates an oversized earthen bowl inset with a clay Asanka bowl, a traditional mortar used extensively in food preparation across Ghana. This installation, also featuring traditional songs from the Ghanaian Homowo festival, will draw vital attention to the detrimental impact of climate change on both food and water security, and by extension on all life on earth.

Pip & Pop

During Food Forever, the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art will host acclaimed Australian artist Pip & Pop, presenting a wonderfully vibrant exhibition which focuses on ideas of food insecurity and future foods. Working in collaboration with Kew Science, Pip & Pop will create an immersive installation of a fantasy feast filled with foods identified by Kew as neglected and underutilised species- many of which may help to solve food scarcity issues in the future.

Kew’s Science

Across the programme, visitors will be encouraged to discover more about the ongoing work of Kew Science in helping to futureproof food for generations to come. As Kew’s recent State of the World’s Plants and Fungi report highlights, 2 in 5 plants worldwide are estimated to be threatened with extinction, and at present we are overly dependent on only a few species for food, which has left the global population vulnerable to malnutrition and climate change. There are more than 7,000 known species of edible plants we could be eating, and crop diversity is key to feeding the world’s growing population. Research by Kew Scientists and partners all over the world has highlighted plant-based foods of the future including akkoub, the morama bean, and Coffea stenophylla, a delicious coffee species capable of growing in higher temperatures, rediscovered in the wild in 2018.

By learning about the health benefits of plants and fungi, the importance of global ecosystem conservation and the need to utilise more climate-resilient and sustainable crops, visitors to Food Forever will be empowered to make positive changes in their day-to-day lives, all of which will help to combat biodiversity loss and mitigate the devastating impact of climate change.

The Kew Gardens Cookbook

Available from June 2022, The Kew Gardens Cookbook is a celebration of the huge array of plants and fungi that have the potential to broaden our palates and make us think differently about food. The book features over 60 vegetarian recipes from celebrity cooks, chefs and food writers, from cuisines around the world and celebrates both the glorious variety of edible plants that we eat, and the vital work that Kew does to promote and sustain this rich biodiversity. Contributors include Diana Henry, Meera Sodha, Thomasina Miers and Yottam Ottolenghi.

Paul Denton, Head of Visitor Programmes and Exhibitions, comments, “It’s never been more important for us to reflect upon and change our approach to food consumption and production. Food Forever will allow visitors to Kew Gardens a wonderful opportunity to engage with food in a completely fresh and exciting way- learning more about how the positive choices which we make for our own health and wellbeing also support the health and wellbeing of the planet which we share.”

Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, will host its own food-inspired programme, Nourish. Promising a series of major outdoor art installations across its spectacular gardens, vibrant After Hours evening events, and interactive workshops, the 12 week programme invites visitors to discover more about fascinating Kew science research projects through the innovative art installations, and savour their time in nature.

Further details of talks, screenings and events will be announced in due course.