The Roving Microscope ~ exploring human-soil ecologies through the microscope


The Roving Microscope is a community microscope club exploring human-soil ecologies through microscope gazing, food, discussion and making. It is a collaboration between Ellie Doney, Melissa Thompson and Hari Byles. In 2019 we ran a programme of workshops, microscopic lunches and events across London funded by the East End Community Foundation and the British Ecological Society. During this programme we got tangled up in the soil food web, took a closer look at the different surfaces that microbes inhabit, stuck our noses into aerobic and anaerobic compost piles, and examined the life living on some of our much loved seeds.

From 2020 - 2021 we worked alongside The Big Compost Experiment and researchers from the More-Than-Human Data Interactions project, based at City University.

4 people gather round a lap top and microscope in garden setting, with sunflower, pot plants and soil samples dotted around. One person is gesticulating and explaining something, someone else takes notes on a clipboard.
people stand round a kitchen table, all reaching for a kombucha SCOBY that is laid out on a chopping board, it looks shiny and slimy and the people look fascinated and curious.
people standing around in nature reserve setting, connected with strings and holding cards / papers
someone is holding some plant roots covered in soil in foreground, whilst a small child wearing brightly coloured clothing peers through a microscope in background. the table is littered with soil samples, diagrams and an open pencil case
lots of people are milling around an outdoor kitchen where food is being prepared.
a tangle of worms in a wormery, with food scraps and leaves also visible
 horizontal light brown hyphal strand with segments, crosses greeny / blue/ gold background containing microscopic soil aggregates and organic matter
clusters of microscopic spikey and ovular shapes in blue/green soil solution, surrounded by small dots of bacteria and microorganisms
a microscopic nematode worm moving through greeny/blue soil solution
close up of 10x microscope lens looking at a plant root laid out on a slide
three children gather round a flip chart, drawing images of the soil food web in coloured pens
adults and a child stand around connected by string, which looks like a giant cats cradle. They are smiling / looking thoughtful
a table scattered with drawings and lino prints
hand holds up chemistry beaker containing dark brown soil solution, in the background a group is gathered around a pile of bran and leaf mould on a blue tarp, which someone mixes with a spade
3 microscopes on a table in a garden, connected to a lap top, with trays  containing soil samples scattered around