Patrick Whitefield passed away on 27th February 2015 following several months of illness. He had retired in September 2014, passing the running of Patrick Whitefield Associates (now Whitefield Permaculture) on to his colleague and co-teacher Caroline Aitken, who is now the director, lead teacher and consultant.
Patrick created our residential and online courses during his 25 year career in Permaculture and wrote many articles and several books including The Earth Care Manual a comprehensive guide to practising permaculture in a temperate climate. He was brought up on a smallholding in Somerset and qualified in agriculture at Shuttleworth College, Bedfordshire. After several years working in agriculture in the Middle East and Africa, he settled in central Somerset. In 1983 he bought a flower-rich hay meadow to save it from destruction and kept it as a nature reserve for 25 years before handing it on to the Somerset Wildlife Trust for safe keeping. He was always a keen vegetable gardener, and some fifteen years ago he planted an orchard which produced an abundant supply of apples from September to May. In the past he made his living by a variety of country crafts, and for a while he was a prominent member of the Green Party. From 1990 onwards he devoted himself to permaculture, especially to teaching it, and appeared on the BBC television programmes, It’s not Easy Being Green and A Farm for the Future.
“I find permaculture makes use of the varied skills I’ve acquired during my life, and puts them into a cohesive whole.”
Patrick was one of the leading and pioneering permaculture teachers in Britain, and indeed in Europe. In his legacy of books and films he combined a deep knowledge of the subject with an inspiring and professional style. He’s written three books on permaculture: Permaculture in a Nutshell, How to Make a Forest Garden and The Earth Care Manual. His latest book is How To Read The Landscape (an abridged and edited version of his previous book The Living Landscape, how to read it and understand it), was a subject especially close to his heart. He also practiced for many years as a design consultant.
Caroline is the director of Whitefield Permaculture. She is the leading teacher on our residential and online courses and is our primary design consultant. Caroline originally trained with Patrick before working alongside him, and has a background in design, organic food growing and horticulture and used to work as an eco-cook.
Her experience includes managing 2 acres of intensive organic vegetable production within a small mixed farm, managing 5 acres of ornamental and food gardens at a meditation retreat centre, and catering for groups, courses and retreats. Since she began teaching in 2008 she has worked at a wide range of educational centres from farms to universities, working alongside many inspiring people in her drive to spread positive solutions for food production and land use.
Caroline lives with her partner and son on a 4 acre smallholding in Dartmoor where they produce veg, fruit, eggs and honey. She writes our blog and is co-author with Martin Crawford of Food from your Forest Garden, a comprehensive guide to making best use of your forest garden produce.
Sarah is an urban permaculturist and a leading member of Bristol Permaculture Group. She’s very active in her local, inner city area where she started out as a Community Gardener. In 2007 she founded Transition Bristol and then in 2010 set up the not-for-profit organisation Shift Bristol. She’s lead tutor on their Practical Sustainability Course, teaching the permaculture and group work modules. The words most often used to describe Sarah’s teaching are fun and inspiring. She opens up a cornucopia of possibilities for practising permaculture in the town and using it to empower resilient communities. Visit her site https://www.shiftbristol.org.uk/
Matt has owned and run Ragmans since 1990. He has hosted numerous courses over the years for
teachers such as Patrick Whitefield, Bill Mollison, Mike Feingold, Chris Evans, Andy Langford, Geoff Lawton and Jude and Michel Fanton from Australia, Starhawk and Penny Livingston- Stark from LA as well as our team who currently teach at Ragmans.
He has experience through his management of Ragmans, in livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry), vegetables, mushroom production, orchards and apple juicing, as well as staff and volunteer managment.
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.
Seema works as a co-teacher on our Permaculture courses, including the Online Course. She is a Forest School Leader and community gardener and works with people of all ages outdoors.
She has over 15 years’ experience in facilitating arts and environmental education and is particularly interested in experiential learning. She has worked with numerous groups in urban areas to set up food growing spaces and has worked on other community initiatives including a food waste kitchen, a forest garden and a local Transition Town. She is particularly interested in People Care, forest gardens, local food and natural/upcycled crafts.
Seb is a tutor on the Ecology module of our Land Course Online. He is an ecologist, and has been observing natural systems for over 30 years, including 20 years working in conservation and ecological research. His main interest is on interactions between people and ecosystems, and Seb draws on his knowledge of natural systems to guide all aspects of design and decision making. Since 2011 he has worked with Transition Stroud, supporting local initiatives that build community resilience. He is a member of Stroud Woodland Coop, which cooperatively owns and manages a small woodland on the outskirts of Stroud, and is part of a communal fruit and veg growing group in the Slad Valley. He is a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design apprentice and teaches permaculture in and around Stroud.
Mike runs Saw Mills Devon, a sustainable forestry timber company based in Devon. He is our main Sustainable Forestry tutor on The Land Course Online. He taught alongside Patrick on the Sustainable Land Use course for several years at Ragmans Farm, and is featured in some of the films on the online course. He and his company manage the woodlands at Dartington hall, carrying on a tradition of forward thinking forestry are involved in bringing together creative thinkers and doers to explore the forest and how we live with trees in international gatherings hosted by the estate. Mike is passionate about trees and woods and he shares his knowledge with clarity and experience.
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