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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.

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 for 20 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 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.

Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition movement, as well as of Transition Town Totnes. He is the author of several books including 'The Transition Handbook', 'The Power of Just Doing Stuff' and most recently 'From What Is to What If: unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want'. He studied his PDF in 1992, and went on to set up the world's first 2 year permaculture course, at Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland, the course that was the inspiration for Shift! He lectures and writes widely about imagination and about the Transition movement. He hosts a podcast series called 'From What If to What Next'. He is a keen gardener and swimmer, and makes lino prints in his spare time.

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.

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

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.

Danny Bala 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.

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.

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 and is also a lecturer at the Centre for Alternative Technology, giving specialist lectures on Thermal comfort, Schools and Health and Earth Building.

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

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. Oddly, he does not believe in Permaculture.

Andy Hamilton is the co-founder of selfsufficientish.com 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.

Nick Osborne specialises in supporting people to self-organise to work together towards a purpose. He attended the very first Transition Training in Totnes in 2007, delivered the Transition Launch training internationally, then focussed on group skills for Transition, developing the first Effective Groups training in 2009. Since then he has developed an online Self-Organization Adoption Program. Through 30 years’ experience in private, public and non-profit sectors; as an employee, manager, freelancer, entrepreneur, volunteer, business partner; with organisations; Nick has been on a profound organisational journey. He traversed the conventional management hierarchy, took a deep dive into collaboration and consensus and explored agile/responsive/teal/conscious practices of self-management and self-organising systems. Becoming the first Certified Holacracy Coach in the UK in 2015, this journey has provided Nick with a deep understanding of the principles and practices of self-organisation and self-organising systems in different contexts.

James Taylor is a bioregional activist based on the Dengie peninsula of Essex. A former Chair of the UK Permaculture Association, he is a graduate of the Centre for Human Ecology, co-author of the book Shadows of Progress and has been teaching permaculture with Naturewise and Spiralseed since 2007.

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.

Martin Crawford is the Director of the Agroforestry Research Trust and manages their 20 acres of trial grounds in Devon which includes forest gardens of different sizes and nut orchards. He is an author with his book ‘Creating a Forest Garden’ building 25 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 30 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.

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 (www.snughomes.co.uk). Jackson provides training in construction skills, along with consultancy and group support (www.ecomotive.org). He was a founding member of the National Custom and Self Build Association (www.nacsba.org.uk), and the Bristol CLT (www.bristolclt.co.uk), and he remains a director of the Ashley Vale Action Group, which manages the Wildgoose Space (www.wildgoosespace.org.uk), and owns Bridge Farm (www.bridgefarmbristol.co.uk).

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.

Charles Dowding has made no dig growing a popular option. His readers and viewers learn how it’s good for soil, healthy for plants and easy for them. His books and videos give other timesaving ways to garden, as applicable for small areas as large ones. His methods are used by millions of gardeners worldwide. Since 1982 he has created and cropped four no dig market gardens on different soils: from stony to clay. In the 1980s he cropped 3ha of no dig beds. Currently he grows vegetables on 1300 square metres for local sales of salad leaves and vegetables. Most beds grow two crops a year, from applying 2.5cm once a year of compost on beds and woodchip on paths. He has written twelve books of which three are self published, runs a YouTube channel and Instagram account, has created online gardening courses, writes for gardening magazines, and gives talks/courses online, at home and abroad.

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.

Andrew Kirby is a coppice worker and food producer based in the south Cotswolds, as a woodland worker by winter and veg grower in the summer months, the overlap of the two and how they can inform each other is where his focus lies. He also keeps a small flock of sheep, teaches traditional woodland crafts and is active member of the Land Workers Alliance.

Patrick Mallery is a food activist & farmer with over 15 years of experience in growing food and developing food systems. His passion for growing food blossomed into a career when he started his own ecological & ethical business - Upcycled Mushrooms. He now consults with farms to create sustainable growing solutions, using systems which limit the energy required for fungi cultivation whilst also recycling natural waste materials from the local area into food to feed fungi. Through Upcycled Mushrooms, he provides rare local-origin strains of fungi for other growers and a range of workshops & courses on how to grow edible mushrooms. Patrick also developed the UK’s first ready to fruit “grow your own” Lion’s Mane mushroom kits. He also helped set up other innovative & unique farming projects, including the community led urban micro dairy, Street Goat.

Tanya Moore is a qualified teacher with over a decade of experience teaching in a range of learning environments. She specialises in accelerated learning - using brain based learning and memory techniques to ensure that learning is engaging, memorable and effective.

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 the 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 the co-ordinator for CitCN (Composting in the Community Network) and has been supporting community composting 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.

ROUNDHOUSE TEAM

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.