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Tutor Biographies

Sarah Pugh is founding Director of Shift Bristol and lead tutor on the PSC. She has been teaching Permaculture in Bristol and the UK since 2003. She teaches an annual urban based course and taught for several years on the Sustainable Land Use course with Patrick Whitefield. She has worked as a community gardener, fundraiser, events organiser and development consultant in Bristol’s voluntary sector since 1999. In 2006 she initiated and co-ordinated Transition Bristol and trained as a Transition Trainer. She is a founder member of the Bristol Permaculture Group and has been actively involved in many community environment projects.


For over 20 years Mike Feingold has been teaching Permaculture to and learning from communities around the world including Nepal , India , Palestine , Kenya and beyond. He has also been maintaining an inspiring Permaculture allotment in Bristol for most of that time. He is a founder member of the Bristol Permaculture Group and organiser of the Glastonbury Festival Permaculture demonstration garden. Mike is one of the UK ‘s leading experts in sustainable and experimental gardening.


Dr Chris Johnstone is a specialist in the psychology of change and author of Find Your Power – a toolkit for resilience and positive change. For over two decades he has studied, taught and written about the psychological dimensions of sustainability, working closely with Joanna Macy in running workshops to promote empowered responses to global issues. He and Joanna Macey co-wrote Active Hope in 2013. He has written for Permaculture Magazine and contributed to The Transition Handbook. He produces The Great Turning Times, a free email newsletter about creating a life-affirming society.


Tim Foster has been teaching organic gardening courses in and around Bristol including at City of Bristol College for 10 years. He has extensive experience of horticulture, gardening, landscaping, nursery-work, garden centre-work, tree-work and market gardening as well as a degree in horticulture and a BEd. He also has a keen interest in wine-making and brewing. He has recently written a marvellous book on gardening called ‘Good Earth Gardening’


Matt Dunwell has owned and run Ragmans Lane Farm since 1990 which has hosted numerous courses over the last eighteen years for teachers such as Bill Mollison, Mike Feingold, Chris Evans, Andy Langford and Jude and Michel Fanton from Australia, Starhawk and Penny Livingston- Stark from LA as well as the team below who currently teach at Ragmans. He has farmed livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry), vegetables, mushroom production and apple juicing. He was on the steering group of Transition Forest of Dean for a year, and has worked as a consultant for the Foundation of Local Food Initiatives. He co-authored the first Local Food Directory in 1997. He has been a Trustee of the Tudor Trust for 25 years. He is currently exploring regenerative agriculture methods.


Ben Law lives and works in his coppice woodland in West Sussex, He manages the woodland for a range of products and timber for his roundwood timber framing business. He trains apprentices and runs courses on sustainable woodland management, eco-building and permaculture design. He is author of The Woodland Way, a permaculture approach to sustainable woodland management and The Woodland House, which charts the building of his unique cruck framed home in the woods. The building of his house was filmed for Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme and proved to be the most popular program of the series. Ben now runs occasional open days in response to the popular demand. Ben’s third book The Woodland Year, was published in 2008.

Iain Stewart Former Shift Facilitator and Medical Herbalist. Iain is practices in Bristol and is involved in the Radical Herbalist Gathering. He teaches Herbal Medicine and whole health courses with his wife Emily.  

Danny Bala is a founder member of CoResist. He leads a day on Consensus decision making.

Trevor Houghton is an independent energy and climate change researcher and consultant. He was a senior consultant and a director of CAG Consultants – a co-operative company working in the field of sustainable development, regeneration and stakeholder involvement. He was formerly the head of research at the Centre for Sustainable Energy and has been a lecturer/tutor on degree and masters courses at UWE, the Open University and the Centre for Alternative Technology. He has been a member of the Energy Saving Trust’s Expert Panel on ESCos.


Mike Gardener works throughout Britain, sustainably managing woodlands to produce a wide range of high added value forest products. Initially coppicing, hurdle making and charcoal burning he now runs a successful forestry business in Devon planting trees, managing various woodlands selling sawn and round timber, chestnut fencing, furniture and bespoke timber buildings. As well as running various courses and training programmes he has also travelled to India, Sri Lanka, Mexico and the US to study sustainable forestry.


Tony Wrench lives in West Wales in an extremely rural setting in a roundhouse that he designed using permaculture principles and built with his partner Faith. They had difficulty getting planning permission, but now it has been accepted as an official Low Impact Development. He runs courses around Europe teaching people to build roundhouses


Seb Buckton worked in conservation and ecological research for 20 years, focussing on interactions between people and wetlands. Since 2011 he has worked with Transition Stroud, supporting local initiatives that build community resilience. He is a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design apprentice and now teaches permaculture in Stroud. Seb is a member of Stroud Woodland Coop, which cooperatively owns and manages a small woodland on the outskirts of Stroud. He is part of a communal group growing veg in the Slad Valley. In all these activities Seb draws on his knowledge of ecological interactions to guide design and decision making.


Jason Hawkes has trodden many paths in life, including the forces, banking, carework, carpentry and backpacking, he has found his spiritual home in environmental science in construction and now has a MSc in Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies. He has experience in building with natural materials such as timber, rammed earth and straw and has taught at primary, undergraduate and postgraduate level. He feels “sustainability must not just be this years buzzword, it must permeate all our thoughts and actions; anything less would be truly unjust”. He is a co-founder of J3 Building Futures; a sustainable development, environmental design, green construction and ecological living consultancy, concerned with developing the built environment in a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable manner and is also a lecturer at the Centre for Alternative Technology giving specialist lectures on Thermal comfort, Schools and Health and Earth Building.(Green Build – Retrofitting – Lead Tutor).


Peter Harper worked for over 20 years as Head of Research and Innovation at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, UK, He is also a visiting lecturer at universities and other institutions around the world. His interests have ranged widely, including energy policy, sustainable lifestyles, ecovillages, alternative sanitation, landscape design, organic horticulture, and composting (with which he is mildly obsessed – don’t get him started). His publications include Radical Technology (1976) an influential early textbook of technical alternatives, The Natural Garden Book (1994) and Lifting the Lid (2000) on low-impact sanitation systems. Since 2007 he has worked with the Zero Carbon Britain project, focusing on the large-scale infrastructural changes required for rapid decarbonisation. His colleagues regard him as a loose cannon often at odds with Green orthodoxy. His friends think of him as an agreeable nerd!


Dáithí Ó Súilleabháin  has a multitude of talents in developing ecological sustainability. He takes groups on eco/dreamtime study walks; guided tours that follow the rivers, valleys and eco-systems of the local area. He develops and encourages a relationship with the land through direct engagement, and walking the story of that place; offering holistic multi-disciplined and indigenous perspectives, and drawing from participants own personal connection to the earth. He is also skilled in environmental management systems, integrated resources planning, water catchment management, geographical information systems, community stakeholder management, building surveys, heritage conservation, restoration and refurbishment, recycling old buildings, energy conservation and environmental performance. (Permaculture – Dreamtime Walk).


Andy Hamilton is the co-founder of and co-author of The Selfsufficientish Bible. Andy either grows or forages much of his own food. His interest in wild plants goes further than food as he is a keen amateur herbalist and home brewer. (Permaculture – Food Foraging).


Jay Abrahams is a microbiologist who has a long term passion for low-entropy systems design. He attended a full permaculture design course in 1992. As a result of this course, he set up Biologic Design, his vehicle for the creation of sustainable wastewater purification and energy generation systems. He gained his Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design in 1994. Having lived off-grid for 25 years he has first hand experience of living lightly, using renewable energy and natural waste purification. Through Biologic Design he is presently creating WET Systems – constructed wetlands for wastewater purification, resource production, biodiversity enhancement and habitat creation; and also installing Treebogs (composting toilets) for a wide range of groups. He is working with Transition Towns to establish community owned Anaerobic Digestion systems (for energy production from wastes). He is also involved in sustainable woodland management, and was a director of Beetlewood Activities, a woodland-based ecological and emotional literacy education group. (Permaculture – Wetland Ecosystem Treatment).


Carine Van Gestel teaches crafts and landwork skills at a Steiner school and on summer camps. She has always enjoyed being creative with her hands and willow is her favourite medium. She works with Steve Pickup at the Willowbank, creating sculptures and teaching skills. (Community Engagement – Earth Celebrations).


Jyoti Fernandes lives on Fivepenny Farm – a smallholding in Dorset, , growing organic produce for local markets. She is a campaigner with Grassroots Action on Food and Farming on farming and development issues, and advises Chapter 7 smallholders in the UK on how to get planning permission for building their own dwellings. Fivepenny Farm is a 43 acre low-impact, sustainable smallholding where Jyoti Fernandez and her family grow organic fruit and vegetables, and keep a small number of cattle, chickens and pigs. They sell their seasonal produce in Bridport market and via a mobile shop and catering business. There is also timber-framed, thatched barn power, which provides processing facilities for the local ‘Peasant Evolution Producers’ Co-Operative’. They have an orchard, two small areas of woodland and are restoring wildflower meadows. (Field visit and Local Food)


Steve Pickup has been teaching at Ragmans for ten years. Fantastic examples of his willow sculptures, including a fedge, a willow arch, and different forms of erosion control using living willow can be found around the farm. He has spent the last twenty years growing, planting, weaving and teaching, and has a keen interest in the emerging new varieties useful for living willow sculptures. Steve’s company The Willow Bank,  grows many varieties of willow at Ragmans which he sells for sculptures, baskets, landscaping and fuel. Steve is also a sought after DJ operating under cover as ‘Steve the Weave’. (Willow bank visit at Ragmans Lane.


Martin Crawford is the Director of the Agroforestry Research Trust and has planned and carried out all research to date and is also involved in the other aspects of the Trust’s work. His recent book ‘Creating a Forest Garden’ builds on his 20 years of knowledge to show how to make a three dimensional garden of useful plants. He is particularly interested in how diverse perennial-based plant systems can exhibit cooperation between species and a whole-system identity to give it resilience.He has spent over 20 years in organic agriculture and horticulture, including working for the Yarner Trust in North Devon (teaching small-scale organic agriculture); growing food for a small hotel on the Isle of Iona; restoring the walled gardens of a manor house in mid-Devon; and running his own organic market garden and tree nursery in South Devon. He is also a director of ‘Gaia’, a Trust formed by James Lovelock to further his work.


Pat Bowcock‘s love of growing things, trees, water, making fires and building shelters (which always leaked) started early. In June 1999 she looked for a piece of land to live in harmony with, which she found in the form of a pony paddock. Her aim was to create a haven for plants, wildlife, trees and people. With the help of friends, family and supporters she now has permanent planning permission to live in a low impact, off the grid, timber framed building known as ‘Our Shed’. Ourganics has become a venue for a variety of events and courses and thousands of people have had contact with the principles inherent in this environment. Pat grows salad, flowers, herbs, vegetables and willow, hosts workshops, team days and various courses. Ourganics Evolving Systemsis a demonstration, permaculture lifestyle and debt-free business. (Field trip to Ourganics)


Charles Dowding is a pioneer of no-dig growing methods and runs a market garden in Somerset. He has written several books on the subject and teaches courses at his home. 


Caroline Aitkin taught with Patrick Whitefield until his death in 2015. She now runs Patrick Whitefield Associates from her home in Dartmoor. She teaches at Schumacher College and in various settings around the UK. She has written a book on Forest Garden cooking with Martin Crawford. 


Simon Crook was a student on the PSC in 2011. Since then he has been building roundhouses in many settings


Paddy O’Riorden, Another ex Shifty, Paddy has developed his skills as an accomplished green builder and teacher. 


Joanna Forsyth studied  and later taught courses with the Cob Cottage Company in Oregan USA and has developed her skills as a builder in conventional and timber and cob building settings. She designs,  builds and teaches around the UK, Australia and the USA.