An Interview With The Botanical Explorer Joseph Simcox

In Environment, Food Justice by Carlos Espinal, INHCLeave a Comment

We are grateful to share the incredible work of our friend and film maker Anthony Rodriguez who documents the fascinating aspects of permaculture, sustainability and food justice throughout the globe. This first video serves as an introduction to the Botanical Explorers series which follows ethnobotanist Joseph Simcox and friends on their journey to find and document rare and exotic plants to share them with the world. Stay tuned for more video of the Botanical Explorers!

Anthony B. Rodriguez

Anthony Basil Rodriguez is a New York born independent photographer and filmmaker. Since childhood he has been oriented toward a range of visual worlds. As a teenager Anthony began to carry around an old film camera that his younger brother had lying around from a school project. Eventually taking his hobby more seriously, Anthony obtained a job pushing carts in order to buy his first digital camera. One day after a thunderstorm he was discovered by a local news station knee-deep in floodwaters collecting photos of the aftermath. He spent the following three years submerged in live television, editing daily newscasts. During this time he honed and developed a true eye and skill for editing, videography and ultimately storytelling. Since leaving the news industry Anthony has continued to push his craft, interlacing realms of photography, video and film. In mid 2014 at an heirloom seed festival, Anthony met ethnobotanist Joseph Simcox, which subsequently lead to a friendship and a multi-year collaboration with The Botanical Explorers. This work continues to bring Anthony around the world in pursuit of research and documentation of rare plants, disparate peoples and the flux of global society.

Joseph Simcox

Joseph Simcox, ‘The Botanical Explorer’ is a seasoned ethnobotanist who has an intrinsic fascination with inherent wonders in nature. One of the keynote speeches Joseph has given, entitled; ‘Cavemen, Kings and Cannibals’ highlights some of the ways in which civilizations before us held reverence for food, speaking not only of the nutritional components of food, but also to the multitude of other historical relationships of humans to food, including food as power, food as a status symbol, food used as a tool for influencing others, as well as the roles food play in extravagance, spirituality, ritual sacrifice and survival. One could spend hours listening to Joseph’s stories of adventure and world travel. He speaks candidly of his trials in tracking down rare seeds, and they were not limited to linguistic barriers!

Searching and asking questions is second nature for Joe. He grew up in an ambiance where his parents fostered his inquisitive disposition from a very early age. Joseph was no ordinary child. His early life was immersed in science, exploration, and books. Rather than play with toys he found greater solace exploring the world around him. He grew plants, searched for stones, cataloged seashells and insects. His passion for insects intensified his love of plants as he realized the mutualism between the two. A budding botanist by the age of 12, he took pride in his impressive anthology of orchids, begonias and African violets. He lived vicariously through his specimens imagining the astounding places they must have come from resolving to one day see them in their native lands. Unbeknownst to him at the time, these collections would later define the very essence of his life’s work… to ultimately increase awareness and appreciation of biodiversity of the plant kingdom by traveling the globe to identify, collect, grow and distribute seed from some of the rarest species known to man.

Excerpt from Plant Diversity & Symbiotic Relationships by Crystal Stevens, Permaculture UK, April 2015


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