I am a permaculture teacher, designer and author, currently based in Devon, England. My main goal is to highlight inspiring and effective solutions already being used to create beautiful sustainable human communities in balance with nature. Rather than scaring people into change (like some approaches), I prefer to inspire and motivate. I feel that we can all live comfortable, enjoyable and truly sustainable lives, by learning the lessons taught us by nature. The answers are all around us!
I teach regular courses in permaculture design as part of the Designed Visions cooperative partnership.
I first came across permaculture back in the late 1980's, being fortunate enough to meet one of the first designers working in this country. I found the subject full of common sense ideas that immediately inspired me to apply some of the principles in my own life. I had already started gardening out of a desire to grow healthy organic food for myself, at a time when there wasn't much of it available for sale in the shops and this proved to be a good place for me to start applying some of these new ideas.
I was very concerned about what we were doing to the environment and also determined not to poison my own body if I could avoid it. So I grew organically, concentrating on fruits, vegetables and herbs, not seeing the point at the time of wasting space on anything I couldn't eat! Luckily, I met a keen gardener of many years and I avoided making too many mistakes early on by following their guidance.
During the 1990s I regularly lectured and debated on environmental issues in schools and colleges and in the media for a national campaigning group over a period of five years. In 1996 I completed the Certificate in Permaculture Design (a two week residential course), where I finally got a proper immersion in the subject. From that point on I just had to incorporate all these great new ideas into what I was doing - I was hooked! We clearly learn much better when we have an enthusiasm for a subject and although I love to dip into my collection of gardening and permaculture books, most of what I have learned has been from simply going out and having a go.
I went on to participate in two separate week-long Teaching Permaculture Creatively courses and to complete Stage One of the City and Guilds 7307 Adult Education Teaching Certificate. I now co-teach a Training of Permaculture Teachers course with my colleagues at Designed Visions. I have also designed and implemented several major garden projects during the last decade using permaculture principles, that formed a significant part of my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design portfolio (completed in September 2003). I served as a trustee of the Permaculture Association (Britain) for five years (2000 to 2005), the Interim Diploma Development Team and Diploma Working Group (2005-2012) and currently serve on the Education Working Group. I'm now a Senior Diploma Tutor, helping apprentices with their own Diploma pathways.
I was initially trained in Physics, but I felt that I needed to be doing something that wasn't harming our beautiful planet, so I turned my gardening hobby into my job. As well as being work that I enjoyed, maintaining gardens naturally was something positive that I could do to earn my living. However, "Multiple elements for each function" is an important permaculture principle that reminds us that nature always supplies everything from more than one source. This is why eco-systems have such an inherent stability. So in order for me to enjoy this same benefit, I diversified my work and created a 'poly-income' for myself. Teaching permaculture design courses (72 as of May 2016) and tutoring Diploma students now makes up a large proportion of what I do, but I always have other projects on the go as well.
I feel that permaculture has a lot of solutions to offer us, so I now enjoy having the opportunity to teach "something that can make a real difference in all our lives". I occasionally find time to design gardens for others, using permaculture principles, and as you will see from the sample gardens, these principles can be applied in many different circumstances.
Among my other diverse activities, in 2003 I initiated the Permaculture Musicians project. This has in turn produced a CD of permaculture songs called 'Earth Stars', that was sold to raise funds for permaculture projects at home and abroad. I also sometimes photograph the salad mandalas I create from plants grown in my own garden. In 2012 I also set up a You Tube channel where I regularly upload my own videos around a permaculture theme.
In the spring of 2012 Permanent Publications published my first book 'Permaculture Design - a step-by-step guide', which evolved from a set of design worksheets I originally created to support my design course students. I also write occasionally for magazines and when I remember I post interesting items on my blog. I'm currently writing a second book, about a subject I'm especially fascinated by - 'Systems, Patterns and Principles in Permaculture Design'.
Between 2012 and 2014 I also ran RegenAG UK, which hosts courses by pioneering farmers and farm designers from around the world.