John Mulford

John Mulford



Due to urbanisation, safety concerns and other factors, today’s children have less contact with nature than any generation before them. This comes with many consequences for both human health and conservation.

Drawing from his experiences of school science, environmental work and gardening, John will explain why the solution to this problem should start with plants. He believes that plants have the potential to demonstrate our intrinsic link with nature, to support wildlife, to foster a love of science and to unite communities. He will argue that every child should have a green space in their school where they can grow fruit, vegetables, trees and other plants while simultaneously learning about nutrition, wildlife and science.

John Mulford is a year 11 student at the Judd School. He’s heavily involved in science communication and conservation and has given talks at his school about topics ranging from wildlife gardening to biochemistry. John is also the student leader of the Young Scientists Journal at Judd, which organises talks, workshops and competitions to engage students in science.

In addition, he is involved in hands-on environmental work and gardening. He’s assisting environmental mitigation plans and garden design at his school and is the founding lead of Judd’s Eco Committee.

What 3 words would you use to describe your TEDx talk?
Provocative, ambitious, hopeful.

What was the main motivation for you to do a TEDx talk?
I wanted to share my experience and knowledge about plants and science to inspire people, especially students, to reconsider their relationship with nature.

What do you hope the audience will feel after your TEDx talk?
I hope they feel encouraged to reconsider their relationship with nature, especially with plants and fungi. As a result, I hope that they are inspired to grow plants and fungi on their balconies, windowsills and gardens. 

Were there any challenges in the preparation of your TEDx talk?
It has been challenging at times balancing revision for my mock exams in January and preparation for the talk. I realised if I left my TEDx planning too late I wouldn’t be able to do it justice so I decided to prioritise it first and then focus on exams.

Do you have any goals for your TEDx talk?
Ideally, my talk will not just encourage people to think about their relationship with the natural world and the food they eat, but also inspire them, especially those in my generation, to grow plants and fungi and simultaneously grow as people. 

What is your favourite TED talk and why?
Greg Gage: Electrical Experiments with Plants that Count and Communicate. This talk presents another dimension to the complexity and beauty of the plant world. 


Why do you think Tunbridge Wells has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours?
TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells has always chosen a wide range of topics and a diverse range of speakers. I doubt there are many event committees that would have selected a 15 year old speaker so I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity.

What advice would you give to other people considering giving a TEDx talk?
Whoever you are, just go for it! I never thought I would be selected but here I am talking about a topic I love.