Josephine Marchandise

Josephine Marchandise is the Head of the Creative and No Waste Kitchen at Omved Gardens. Growing up in a farming family, passionate about cooking, gardening and regenerative food growing, Josephine has later rediscovered preservation and fermentation while trying to slow down and commit to a low waste lifestyle. From her favourite ingredient to experiment with at the moment, to what inspires her the most and her top three zero waste hacks in the kitchen, Josephine has shared it all with us.

Describe the nature around you?

I'm sitting in a co-working space of a local yoga studio. Relaxing and mindful environment full of lovely, lush green indoor plants – fairly cliché!

What lessons have you learned from nature?

I'm possibly biased, but to my mind, the deeper you look into nature, the better you understand everything. Nature is like a mother – the ultimate mother to us all. She guides, teaches, heals, nurtures, respects and unites. Her magic is available to everyone; all she asks is that we respect her. When we harm her, we're ultimately just harming ourselves. Nature keeps you rooted, permitting you to slow down, to love, to appreciate, to cooperate in a fully present and absorbed state in her endless jungle of magical wild wonders.

How did you first start becoming interested in preservation and fermentation?

My connection to preservation and fermentation goes back years, although it's only in the last three or so years that I've begun to engage with it more deeply. I come from a farming family, and spent some of my youth helping my mum and grandma gardening, cooking and preserving food. I rediscovered it when I made a conscious decision to slow down my life and commit to a low-waste lifestyle. As I looked for imaginative ways to avoid supermarket and food waste, preservation and fermentation were an obvious choice. With fermentation you have no choice but to slow down. Bacteria and nature work their magic at their own pace. And with all of the fast and instant results expected in our world, endless methods, recipes, instructions and combinations, trying to rush things just leads to frustration.

I love the endless web of creativity: an exploration and discovery of ancient forgotten flavours and new ones which only reveal their secrets to those who dedicate the time required. There's also a deep interrelationship between plants, humans and the community of bacteria that are responsible for the fermentation process (and ultimately our health), and I think this process is a pretty good metaphor for life on earth, it is never a dead end, whatever breaks down gives hope to new forms. Taking time to observe this makes you realise how we humans are also deeply connected to nature. Our ancestors knew and understood this, but in our modern, urbanised world, we have largely forgotten it. Re-establishing this connection is the perfect way to take a stand against the unsustainable and sick food systems that become so prevalent in our world.

How would you define a food system rebellion?

A community of individuals, using their limitless power and talent to imagine and create a land of thoughtful food, hope, security, and justice. The best thing we can do as individuals is to think less like individuals and understand the integral role that all of us can and should play in the wider collective. Food, ultimately, is a means of building and strengthening communities - it's our common ground, which will always unite us.

Do you have a favourite ingredient at the moment? If so, which one and why?

Hard question as it changes all the time. Even though I have been using miso for years, I recently became utterly fascinated by its ancient origins, and the complexity of the fermentation process. Only four ingredients (grain, salt, bean and koji spores), but a really challenging fermentation process I experimented with in the last few months. Miso is the best umami flavour bomb that exists: it's extremely versatile and adds a complex amino acid, rich, salty and tangy flavour to any dish.

What inspires you the most when trying new recipes?

I am inspired by the depth, complexity and generosity of nature, and I am equally inspired to help others better appreciate these things, uncovering the health benefits of each plant that surrounds us. Across the world, human diets are becoming less diverse, more processed, and we only eat a tiny portion of the thousands of edible plants that surrounds us. This is absolutely crazy, and that's where I am inspired by the idea of introducing unusual edible plants into recipes in innovative ways that will inspire people to think more carefully about the food they eat. If those plants are foraged, organic or medicinal, grown locally in a regenerative ecosystem, and prepared using zero waste principles, all the better.

What are your top three zero waste hacks in the kitchen?

First one: trust your intuition more. We have thousands of years of evolution on our side to tell us what is ok to eat and what not. Just because something is past its best before date does not mean it has to go in the bin. Second: create time and space for creativity and imagination. We can all cook, we can all create, we can all experiment. We've got lazy and have lost the understanding that to create something worthwhile sometimes takes time. Third: get (back) into the habit of storing things for the winter months. Fill your freezer with berries in summer. Preserve foods during the plentiful summer/autumnal months.

How can gardens heal us and our communities?

The act of gardening is incredibly healing and rewarding. When I garden and then harvest what I've grown, it feels like I am walking barefoot on the grass: free and grounded, with my senses heightened. Gardens empower and transform communities. They create a safe, secure and nurturing environment where people can feel connected to the collective by doing what our ancestors have done for thousands of years – working with the land, sharing knowledge, saving seeds and observing the incredible profound beauty of nature.

Which song, book or poem inspired your relationship with nature?

A French song "Respire" by Mickey 3D which I listened to repeatedly when I was 13 or 14. The lyrics are addressed to a child, alerting him to the state of the world that adults will leave to him. I was a kid back then, and that's when I realised what we were doing to our planet and what climate change really involved.

Name a TV series, film or documentary that blew your mind.

In terms of pure mind-blowing potency, I'd say the series, The OA. One of the purest pieces of auteur filmmaking; a daring, supernatural, fantasy, sci fi story of humans in multi-dimensional worlds helping each other, with no shortage of narrative twists.

Which rituals do you practice to keep you grounded and connected to the outer world?

Herbal teas: each day I blend herbs that feel right, healing and soothing for my body and mind. I also try to celebrate and embrace seasonal changes with Solstices and Equinoxes.

Follow Jo's incredible recipes and learn more at @omvedgardens and @jomarchinfood

Share this article

Explore Related Stories