I grew up in a rural village in Hertfordshire 20 miles north of London. I was lucky to have access to nature being surrounded by fields and trees. My parents were conventional farmers as was my grandfather. I missed the opportunity to be part of this experience being the youngest of my siblings.
My life was shaped by a violent, dysfunctional family, poor education, mental illness as a teenager and social exclusion as a result. I never settled into a career, not having any qualifications. Whilst having a young family I went to college part-time, gaining several qualifications and became a Mature Students Officer. I later became a victim of domestic violence which was to become another milestone in shaping my life. I started work in further education, supporting and teaching marginalised groups.
For most, these events would have sealed the story of their life. I have since realised that they were a reason for me to learn from the social issues and problems that created them. This was useful in my work with disadvantaged youths.
In 2008, whilst being on the committee of a local transition towns group, I discovered permaculture. Being part of this group was a step towards a more sustainable way of life. In 2010 I became redundant. This lead to a change in paradigm and in 2011, whilst still living in Hertfordshire, my husband and I bought a small plot of land in Devon. Here we developed our land-based skills and started to put into practice the theory of permaculture.
I attended my first permaculture course in Brighton in 2012. I took my Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC), in 2013 with Aranya at Ourganics in Devon. My group experience led me to want to learn more about social Permaculture. I started my Diploma In Applied Permaculture Design at the end of that year and booked on my first social permaculture course in 2014.
As part of my social permaculture development, one of first projects was initiating the North Devon Permaculture Network. The aim of the group is to bring people together who practice or want to know more about, sustainable and regenerative living and building community resilience. The group has evolved in various directions including a renaming. It is now called Hatherleigh Edges Permaculture and Community Regeneration Group.
I moved to Devon full time in 2015 with my husband to set up our community project, North Devon Permaculture, which is based at Wishtree Agroforestry and Permaculture Centre. This a 5 acre offgrid permaculture land learner and experimental farming project. This has shifted our lives into a different paradigm. We are now evolving this into a social enterprise, using permaculture and agroforestry to grow food and help support people with their wellbeing.
We run a consultancy, designing and implementing edible gardens as well as running a plant nursery. We are currently working on our first community pilot project, creating an edible garden for our local preschool. We've called this the Nourish and Flourish project
Using permaculture, we live and work closely with the land, and practice resiliency and regenerative living. We are slowly becoming indigenous to our surroundings, allowing ourselves to be guided by nature. I strongly believe in the connection the land has to our wellbeing and use the lessons from nature to self-heal and for developing my teaching practice. People and land are not separate. They are very much one. Living in such a minimalist way has helped me to learn what is truly valuable and what are our true human feelings and emotions, rather than ones which have developed as part of our upbringing and cultural practices and social beliefs. I appreciate the need for designing systems that work closely with nature and the importance of systems thinking. Through this I have evolved deeply, developing a truer sense of self and authenticity.
I started running permaculture workshops and teaching in August 2015. I consider myself to be one of the new wave of teachers now evolving within permaculture in the UK. I have volunteered for the Permaculture Association UK and I am currently part of their ambassador programme. I was on the planning committee for the first South West Permaculture Convergence in 2017.
I am a co-founder and committee member of Hatherleigh Spaces, a local community group.