Whitefield Permaculture
About / Contact Us

About / Contact Us

Patrick Whitefield

Patrick Whitefield passed away on 27th February 2015. 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.

During his 25 year career in Permaculture, Patrick 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 where he made his living by a variety of country crafts, and 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 and design consultants 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 final book, How To Read The Landscape, was a subject especially close to his heart.

Caroline Aitken

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 farming, horticulture and eco-catering.

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. More recently, Caroline has branched into educational consultancy to further these aims, including the design and development of a ground-breaking undergraduate course: BSc Sustainable Food and Farming for Schumacher College, Dartington- the first degree of its kind in the UK.

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 the best use of your forest garden produce.

See our Consultancy page for more details of our services.

People we work with…

Sarah Pugh

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 Dunwell

matt dunwell ragmans

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 Patel

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.

Martin Crawford

Martin Crawford, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson ©

After some years in Organic market gardening, Martin founded the Agroforestry Research Trust in 1991, and within this has pursued his interest in perennial cropping systems, especially forest gardens / food forests. Based in Dartington, Devon, he oversees 20 acres of research grounds and keeps busy running tours and courses, consulting, as well as managing an extensive plant nursery and seed business. If there is any time left he loves to write.

Martin wrote the brilliant Creating a Forest Garden in 2010, a comprehensive guide to designing forest gardens for temperate climates, with a directory of suitable plant species for all layers. He co-authored Food from your Forest Garden with our Director Caroline Aitken in 2012 and has gone on to create a range of books on the cultivation of perennial crops. Martin runs online and face-to-face courses in Dartington and co-teaches the Edible Ecosystems course at Schumacher College with Caroline Aitken.


Aranya has been teaching since 2004 and has taught over 90 two-week design courses, something he has no intention of stopping. He feels that it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to teach “something that can make a real difference in all our lives”.

He’s also excited about new ways in which permaculture thinking can help us, developing new courses on using its principles to help us design for optimising our health and creating ethical livelihoods.

Aranya is author of the popular ‘Permaculture Design – a Step-by-Step Guide’ and is currently writing a second book, about the application of systems thinking and patterns in permaculture design.

Rob Owen and Mim MacDonald

Mim and Rob 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.  Moving through these worlds it became clear how separate each discipline was from the next and yet how embedded they all were within the living world that underpins them.  What became apparent to both of them was how disjointed and fragmented the human view of the world is.  People have lost a sense of being united by something larger, we no longer see ourselves within the natural systems that encircle us but as discreet entities that interact with them optionally.

It is clear that our loss of relationship to the world around us has contributed in no small way to the entangled environmental, ecological and social crises we face today. What is often less clear however is that it is the same lack of holistic understanding that warps the way that we frame and interact with this crisis and divides our vision when planning a way out of it. 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.

Mike Gardener

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.

Contact Details – Customer service contact

Please contact us by email:

Online Courses: lco@whitefieldpermaculture.co.uk

Other Courses & Consultancy: info@whitefieldpermaculture.co.uk

One comment

  1. Hi Patrick,

    Very much enjoyed your article “Ecological farming” in the permaculture magazine.
    You may be interested to have a look at my website, reforestation.me, particularly the “Animal Improved Dung plus seeds” treatment, which I think can be “grafted” on to planned grazing/holistic management, to get even better results, even faster.

    Best wishes,

    David Clode

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