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Tutor Biographies

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 Royate Hill Community Orchard and 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. He is passionate about finding new and inventive avenues to redistribute local food 'waste'. Mike is one of the UK ‘s leading activist in sustainable and experimental gardening.

Caroline Aitken is a permaculture teacher and designer and director of Whitefield Permaculture courses and design consultancy. She teaches and speaks at venues around the UK and is passionate about soil regeneration, agroecology and healthy, sustainable food. She has previously worked in horticulture, small-scale farming, green catering, illustration and design. She was the Programme Development Lead on BSc Regenerative Food and Farming at Schumacher College, Dartington for two years, and her consultancy work involves designing permaculture and agroecology systems for farms, estates and eco villages. Caroline currently lives on a smallholding with her family on the edge of Dartmoor, Devon where they produce fruit, vegetables, honey, eggs and firewood for their home. She trained and worked with Patrick Whitefield (author of The Earth Care Manual) for several years and co-authored Food From Your Forest Garden with Martin Crawford.

Tim Foster has been teaching organic gardening courses in and around Bristol for 25 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 growing trees, wine-making and drawing. He has recently written two books, organic vegetable growing (‘Good Earth Gardening') and organic fruit growing ('Fruit for Life')

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. Jairo Restrepo and Juanfran lopez have helped introduce biofertilisers to Ragmans which are now used on the farm to build system health. He has farmed livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry), vegetables, mushroom production and apple juicing. 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.

Dr Emilia Melville has spent time working in several organisations in the community energy sector, including being a founder-member of Bristol Energy Co-operative in 2011, working for Carbon Co-op in Manchester, and Bristol Energy Network. Her work in community energy is underpinned by a systemic understanding of energy, from her engineering degree, and combines with her research on commons. Emilia is an experienced facilitator and researcher, whose interest is in democratising the changes we need to make to address the climate emergency. She is currently a director of Praxis Research and a Research Associate at the University of Bristol.

Hannah Padgett has ten years experience involving communities in the design of the objects, environments and messages that fill their everyday lives. She has worked in areas such as street design, active travel, social health and public art, supporting key stakeholders and public champions, local authorities and institutions, businesses and individuals to come together to co-create outcomes that are informed by the people that use them. Hannah was a PSC student in 2018/19 and has since gone on to explore her passion for crafts, guided by permaculture principles, while also working at a creamery as an artisan cheese maker. She continues to advise local action groups seeking to engage communities on proposed active travel routes.

Geoff Hannis is a green woodworker with five years experience having quit his previous job as a software engineer. He is based in Bristol at Grow Wilder with his business Tree to Treen. From his timber-framed workshop nestled in the heart of the site, he makes objects from locally sourced woods, and provides courses in green woodwork, as well as blabbing about the joys of working with your hands and why wood is so important as a material to anyone who happens to be walking by. Instagram: @geoffhannis

Danny Balla is a founder member of CoResist. He teaches introduction to Group Dynamics, Communication Methods and Consensus decision making. Using his background and experience in theatrical directing and drama.

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.

Brian Williamson has been leading the coppice restoration program in Westonbirt, National Arboretum for the past twenty years, having started his coppicing life as a full-time hurdle maker and charcoal burner. Previous to this he worked in mainstream forestry and wildlife conservation. He was a founder member and early Director of the National Coppice Federation (NCFed) and regularly leads workshops and seminars on the benefits of coppicing'.

Ben Gibson is the founder and head grower at The Fungi Folks, a mushroom farm nestled in the hills of South Wales. He was initially captivated by the medicinal potential of many native fungi, and has since fallen deeper down the Fungal rabbit hole progressing from his bedroom cupboard laboratory onto the farm where he now runs The Fungi Folks.

Ben Moss studied permaculture on the Sustainable Land Use course at Ragmans Farm in 2002 taught by Patrick Whitefield. He co-founded Bristol Wood Recycling Project in 2004, where he still works, as Director and Co-operative Secretary. Ben lives with his family in a caravan in the woods on their smallholding in the Chew Valley where they operate a social enterprise - Strode Waterfall Land and Story Project - and the early stages of a forest garden and agroforestry production system. He's also co-founder of Chew Valley Plants Trees.

Yaz Brien has been involved in grassroots organising and social movements in the UK and Americas for over two decades, bringing a queer, anti-racist and feminist perspective to all the work they do. They hosted a radio show on Bristol’s Ujima Radio for 5 years with a focus on active hope - covering topics related to the many intersecting crises we face, but rooted in conversations with people taking action within their local communities. Since 2019 they have worked for Transition Network to amplify stories of community led change from all over the world.

Alex Toogood lives at Tinkers Bubble, an off-grid land-based community in South Somerset, where they work the land without using fossil fuels. The 40acre site includes coniferous and mixed broadleaf woodland with coppice understorey, grazed orchards, and vegetable beds. Woodland management involves felling trees using hand tools, coppicing, extracting timber by horse, and running a steam-powered sawmill. Land activities are managed communally, and the residents live in self-built houses in the woods. Alex is also a curator of the UK Communities Conference; with a particular interest in how we can re-imagine and experience-otherwise what it means to be human in relation to land, ourselves, and each other.

Scott Baines began to learn earth and survival skills in the wilds of Scotland, Canada, USA, Sweden and Norway. Being in contact with First Nations and Sami brought him a realisation spiritual and physically. This learning led him to the (early coined name) Rewild movement where he joined a collective and formed a tribe living in the wilderness in Scandinavia from here they organised DIY wilderness gatherings to create an environment for learning to happen. He returned to the UK to study sustainable land use, with leading Permaculture and Arborist teachers. Naturally through the Arboculture learning, Scott was drawn to Forest Gardens and Agroforestry systems, he went on to work on many different community projects in creating edible landscapes.

Miriam McDonald and Rob Owen are co-founders of Holistic Restoration. A stark realisation of the disparate climatic, ecological and social crises faced by the world drove them to look for integrated solutions. As individuals, they dedicated their time to working and learning across conservation, agriculture, forestry, academia and community development. Together Mim and Rob have combined their knowledge and melded their experiences to form Holistic Restoration, a fully integrated framework through which to view our complex and myriad roles in the ecosystems that sustain us and from which we can forge a path towards regeneration. Since April 2022, they have been researching and demonstrating holistic restoration at a farm in the Derbyshire Dales. A place where Regenerative Production, Wilding and Nature Connection weave together for the benefit of people and ecosystem

Sagara Swier – Life has been an emerging living experiment of many chapters. His three acre Forest Garden, now 11 years old, is a synthesis of all that has gone before: studying then working in Horticulture in New Zealand, working as a professional Photographer, studying Psychosynthesis, becoming ordained and living for four and a half years on a Buddhist retreat in the mountains of Spain, working as a Sculptor and developing Land Art Projects with an unfolding curiosity and earthy inventiveness. An in-depth study of Forest Gardening led to absorbing many of the principles of Permaculture. All the way along Sagara has been developing the ‘Mandala Life Design’ as a means to help others uncover and live out their deep purpose

Humphrey Lloyd is a grower and organiser at Three Hares Market Garden. Here they run an organic salad and veg operation founded on the principles of food sovereignty, located in the Chew Valley. Growing a broad range of produce and supplying their local community through a weekly Salad Drop scheme, as well through direct sales to restaurants and grocers. They are certified as organic with the Soil Association and we grow in a way that maximises both biodiversity and productivity. Tackling food poverty and working to improve the accessibility of high quality fresh produce is also central to their ethos. They are proud and active members of the small scale farmers’ union The Landworkers’ Alliance. Three Hares Market Garden is a tiny part of a global movement that is transforming our food system from the bottom up.

Andy Hamilton is the author of - The National Trust's Feint Hearted Forager and the best selling author of the Booze for Free. He's been teaching on the Shift course for well over a decade and specialises in teaching about the edible, medicinal and mixological uses of local, everyday plants. He's a keen and active member of the Association of Foragers and the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.  

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.

Jackson Moulding has worked in the field of community-led housing over the last 20 years. His background has focused on group self-build, self-finish, environmental sustainability, practical design, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Having been part of the development team for The Yard, where he built his own home, he has supported two self-finish projects, and has set up a pop-up build space where he is constructing modular timber frame homes SNUG Homes. Through Ecomotive, Jackson provides training in construction skills, along with consultancy and group support. He was a founding member of the National Custom and Self Build Association, and the Bristol CLT, and he remains a director of the Ashley Vale Action Group, which manages the Wildgoose Space, and owns Bridge Farm.

Sara Venn is a horticulturist, social garden historian and social activist supporting food growing projects that bring folk together and provide food for local communities. She runs the relentlessly impressive and pioneering Edible Bristol

Nadia Letitia practices a variety of different nature crafts from willow weaving to green woodworking and has been developing her teaching practice over a number of years, doing workshops at festivals and events. Having taken part in the 2014 Practical Sustainability Course she has gone on to focus on the therapeutic benefits of crafting as a tool for nature connection and how we can create a healing relationship with the natural world that is reciprocal, with a particular emphasis on woodland environments.

Alice Gray is a permaculture farmer, teacher and consultant who helps to manage a community vegetable farm (Tyddyn Teg) in Snowdonia, North Wales that serves over 200 families via a weekly veg scheme. She is a certified Permaculture Educator who both organises and teaches full PDC courses and enjoys co-operating with and supporting other teachers. In addition, she works as a permaculture consultant in the international development sector and has been part of projects in Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Kashmir, South Sudan and Ireland. Alice gained much of her permaculture experience during 10 years living and working in the Middle East (primarily in Palestine) from 2006-2015, during which time she helped found and run an experimental permaculture farm as well as qualifying as a teacher and working as a consultant. She returned to the UK in 2015 to help with the establishment of Tyddyn Teg and has since enjoyed honing her skills as a grower and learning to function as part of a workers' co-operative - applying permaculture design to the visible and invisible components of a productive community farm. She lives in a caravan in a muddy field with her partner and 3 cats, alongside other Tyddyn Teg co-op members.

Monica Barlow is the policy advisor at Bees for Development, where they teach best practices in beekeeping to create sustainable and resilient livelihoods for vulnerable communities. They campaign for the protection and restoration of wildflower meadows and pollinator habitat in the UK, as well as supporting beekeepers who make the right choices and promoting their products. They also run inspiring courses and events.

Antonio Paladino and Amanda Heron are farmers and educators of aquaponics, committed to mindful eating practices and the creation of positive change for people and environment. They farm Rainbow Trout and horticultural produce in the most simple and ethical way at their Bioaqua Farm.

Steve England is excited by all things 'Wild' from food to wildlife. He spends most of his time outdoors, learning, relaxing and teaching others. During his ten years training with the RHS and years of “in the field” he has gained masses of knowledge on plants, trees, fungi, flowers & animals. He runs 'Wild Food' events food those interested in everything from learning the basics of food foraging, expanding their knowledge of wild mushrooms, or just fancying a good day out in the woods to try some tasty wild foods.

Becs Griffiths from Rhizome Clinic holds a BSc (Hons) First class degree in Herbal Medicine. The National Institute of Medical Herbalists also awarded her the Arthur Baker Award for best final clinical examination in the UK and the Dorothy Carroll Award for top final clinical examination at UEL in 2009. In 2010 she established Rhizome Community Herbal Clinic, an established & trusted herbal clinic in Bristol, providing the highest quality healthcare using plant-based medicine. She continually furthers her herbal and clinical knowledge and has studied Appalachian Herbal Medicine with Alabama herbalist Phyllis Light, Chinese diagnostics and Chinese herbs with Dedj Liebbrant, at the Intuitive School of Herbal Medicine with Nathaniel Hughes. She is currently taking an accredited antenatal and doula training course with Amanda Rayment and Dominique Sakoilsky.

Sophia Foster has over 20 years work experience of project development work with marginalized groups. Designing projects, such as, an inner-city health project, social and therapeutic growing projects, and community art projects. For the last 7 years she has worked with a grassroots land-based community of people in recovery who use their Lived experience to shape the solutions needed to create change and sustain a culture of wellbeing. She is passionate about co-designing structures and processes needed to support healthy collaborative working within horizontal groups, and the development of collective social and ecological skills needed for a resilient future.

Nicky Scott is a founding member of Proper Job, one of the UK’s first community reuse centres nestled on the northeast edge of Dartmoor in Devon established in 1995. They are a Charity that aims to keep reusable items away from landfills, by putting them on sale in an Aladdin’s cave of pre-loved treasures. Nicky is on the CitCN (Composting in the Community Network) and has been supporting community composting since 1995 and specifically in-situ composting of food waste with school kitchens and businesses since 2005. Nicky has designed, lectured and spoken at many conferences about small-scale composting systems. He’s authored various books - mostly on composting! He is the chair of Growing Devon Schools Partnership.

Chris Vernon has previously worked as a climate scientist with the Met Office, he is a chartered engineer, member of the Institute of Physics and holds a Ph.D. in glaciology focusing on the Greenland ice sheet. Chris also holds masters degrees in computational physics and Earth system science, and studied energy systems and environmental decision making with the Open University. He now lives with his partner and two children in West Carmarthenshire on a One Planet Development in a self-built, off-grid, zero-carbon house. They produce seed commercially, have a two acre orchard, keep bees, chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks. He is also a director of Cwm Arian Renewable Energy and Wales Seed Hub and a member of One Planet Council, a voluntary organisation which supports and promotes the One Planet Development policy.

Ava Riby-Williams is a queer, British Ghanaian/Indian visionary, living in London. She acts out life purpose as a Creative Facilitator, Artist and Wellbeing guide who celebrates diversity and finds divinity in all of life. She uses arts and healing based practices to guide groups into deeper contemplation of issues concerning identity, oppression and liberation- on personal and collective levels.

Duncan Jackson is a permaculture designer completing a permaculture design consulting course at the Regenerative design institute, California in 2010. He formed The Food Foresters in 2012, a permaculture design and implementation company, which have been involved in designing and implementing growing systems for communities and schools as well as private clientele. The Food Foresters have also run workshops in permaculture, foraging, basket making and forest bathing.

Alice Cutler Clarke has around 20 years experience working for social and environmental justice and is interested in how people can work together collectively. She co-founded of Trapese Popular education collective, Do It Yourself, Handbook for Changing Our World. She worked at Bristol Refugee Rights for 11 years where she was Head of Services. She has just completed an MSc in Public Health and is now working with Kindling on violence prevention programmes. She is also on the board at Windmill Hill City Farm. She has lived for ten years in housing cooperatives in Bristol. 


The ShelterCraft team met in 2017 while running roundhouse builds on the Practical Sustainability Course, and have been building together ever since. They enjoyed our annual Shift builds so much they decided to run more and launched ShelterCraft in March 2022.

They are a team of experienced builders, teachers, organisers and facilitators with decades of practical experience in the field between them. They are passionate about making the learning experience during their builds fulfilling and inspiring. 

Bryher Bloor Alongside ShelterCraft Bryher works for the Landworkers Alliance, providing supporting farmers to move towards regenerative agricultural practices. In her previous work Bryher was a Campaign Manager for the Green Party – working to elect Green leaders, influence policy and get issues of sustainability and resilience into the public dialogue.

Joanna Forsyth Originally training and working as a potter for ten years, Jo has spent much of her life with muddy hands! Jo studied and later taught courses with the Cob Cottage Company in Oregon 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. As well as creating new buildings, She also works on the conservation and the restoration of historic buildings and is a slate roofer and cob, earth and lime plaster specialist.

Simon Crook has a life long passion for making things out of wood. Since being a student on the Shift Practical Sustainability Course in 2011, he has married his carpentry skills and low impact ethos to deliver numerous natural building projects. He has developed some skills to simply relay scribing techniques required to accurately join round timbers, loving the challenge of demystifying the complicated.

Charles Soares After completing his first roundhouse on the Practical Sustainability Course in 2016, he went on to pursue his passion for timber framing, natural building and carpentry with a focus on sustainably sourced local timber. Charles joined the roundhouse build team in 2017, and went on to be a founding member of Sheltercraft.