I first went to Glastonbury in 1991/92. At the time i was involved  in co-convening Permaculture courses with fellow student George Sobol, and our teacher Andy Langford on site at Dartington, Devon. I suggested we had a prescence at the festival so.

We shared a marquee with the green party, had books from ‘ecologic books’ and a herb spiral. Jean-Paul a student on our pc course, and I became partners and we initiated the idea of a permanent permaculture area as we didn't feel just a display was sustainable. Our aim was to put some permaculture principles into practice. So we negotiated through Keith Naigle, a veteran at Glastonbury and trusted by Michael Eavis. Michael agreed, for the first time to set aside a corner of one of his fields. 1993 was our first year.

The first thing we did was dig a pond. There were streams running around the edges of the field but we needed to establish a reliable water source near to the garden, available to water plants as we planted and transplanted them. This brought us initially lots of criticism... environmentalists coming in and interfering with nature etc. but it turned out to be one of the best features and Michael was so pleased he had one dug at the top of the Kings field. events.

We worked hard each year planning and starting in February, visiting the site at least once a month, until early in June when we would move on 3-4 weeks before the festival started. Each year we had to repair damage done by the cows because even though Michael had agreed to it being permanent he would never agree to it being fenced off, so we never knew what state we would find it in and whether all our hard work had been undone......trees stolen or damaged  by the cows etc.

We designed and created a mandala style garden, forest garden, an original tree bog, Ewan McEwen’s tripod style, hot tubs designed by Jack Everrett, solar showers by John Van Der Post. We discovered (Mike Feingold's idea) that the cows didn't like comfrey so we started to surround the mandala garden with a hedge of comfrey (originally brought in from mike's allotment in Bristol ) then it became one of the jobs to do after the festival was over each year to split the comfrey plants and spread them around, creating more hedging and protection. The mandala design, which was mine, I will illustrate, was based on an 8 sided sacred bagua - oriental feng-shui system - whilst inside sitting in the positions of the 4 directions according to native American medicine wheel system, were yin/yang shapes. I deliberately wanted to fuse the two systems as I was interested in both eastern and native-American earth wisdom. 

Each year after the festival we mulched extra triangular beds with cardboard and compost so the mandala developed as a star shape. We designed and built different low impact structures each year, Jack Everett, being the principle builder most years. One of his  fortes being making reciprocal frame roofs, the erecting of which was a lesson in community co-operation, science, as well as building. In '98 we built a large 40 foot diameter, straw bale dojo, it served as a very good homeless hostel during the mud and rain, we had a fire inside it, contained in a brazier, but we weren’t allowed to build with straw bales after that as it was considered a fire risk!

We viewed our experiences especially during those two very muddy years, as exercises in survival and using our ingenuity. It highlighted our sense of the importance of our community and our interdependence. Despite mud everywhere, and it threatening to engulf tents like lava, the Permaculture Area was a haven, exemplifying that whatever the conditions ,permaculture functions, but also because only certain types of personality could hold the space when things got tough, that was the nature and quality of the permaculture crew. From the beginning Jean-Paul and I worked closely with Jack Everret and Emma Iveson, others that were involved over several years were Mary-Jane Preece, John Van Der Post, Mark Minkley and his partner Alison, Amber Skyring and her partner , Jonathon and Jo Fryer whose place just down the road from the site was, plant nursery, office, comfort zone, shower....indispensable during those early days when we were operating from a Renault 4 and a bender on site.

Mike Feingold, and Chris Evans, brought in the International Permaculture picture Chris being from Nepal, Mike often in India. My children Hannah, Sam, Rachael, Laurie and Lucian and their friends and Jack and Emma's Saffron and Laurence, all had valuable hands on experience of what permaculture was about and contributed in lots of different ways. Kingston Permaculture group ,with Anne Marie Mayer, were involved for several years with the displays, and several people from the Stroud group. Andy Goldring  and family got involved for a couple of years. Keith Naigle returned from Portugal, set up his teepee in the garden, bringing a bunch of young Portuguese capoiera players who knew how to work and play hard. I had been playing capoiera for a while and drumming so our cultural /music/ movement interest was developing nicely. I welcomed new volunteers from different areas and backgrounds ,as part of the ethos to me was about developing and supporting diversity and cross pollination, of ideas , and as such it was a perfect venue. I can't remember all their names, I apologize and value everyone's input over the years. We developed a tradition of building in different styles, a dojo/ movement/ practice space, reflecting our interests in movement/ martial arts and drumming, that building doubled as a performance space.

We experimented building clay pizza / bread ovens, low tech coolers, and attempting to heat water using the Jean Pain method of copper piping inside piles of de-composing wood chips... it did work but never enough to fill the hot tub! One of the biggest frustrations  was each year having to spend a lot of energy  re-building, and  re-planting. We were never given permission to leave any of our buildings up as storage spaces or to build upon the following year , or fence off the area to protect from the cows. Each year...we were moving piles of manure by hand in scorching heat, or pouring rain!! Extensive re-planting rather than being able to develop new ideas.

I almost forgot the chickens, that were very happy eating everyone’s leftovers and contributing nicely to the system by laying us eggs... even though I was often targeted by the animal rights lady who insisted that we were being cruel keeping them at a festival.... she would never hear that they were liberated from a battery farm and were certainly not stressed...we were able to give people "hands-taste-buds-on" cooking wild food, by making comfrey or elderflower fritters on site for people to taste. Neighbours brought their compost to our compost heaps. One year, before the ban on horses on site, Dan drove his wagon around the greenfields collecting organic waste from the cafe’s. Later only keen cafe's bothered to bring the waste, but at the end there was plenty to be composted. We would have liked to see this idea spread around the greenfields and then to the rest of the festival, each area composting its own waste, and having their own compost loos... because eventually ours were so popular we had to restrict their usage, as we were having to deal with too much poo !!The health and safety regulations always came up with no go on the spread of compost loos to other areas, even though we had them from the start with no bad effects.

We also had a thriving small bar, the best year was when it was "The Nettle Shirt " when we explored the uses and combinations of various elixirs and cordials and fermentations as proposed by the originator of Permaculture himself, Bill Mollison, in his book "Ferment and Nutrition "1993. This was an essential part of the social design. It was always unofficial, although Michael knew about it, like many things at Glastonbury he chose to turn a blind eye. People used to return year after year because of this unique feature, as well as the hot tubs, where many a good idea was germinated.

In 2000 there was a big influx of people from the Bristol permaculture group brought by Mike. We had always received and welcomed new people but this already existing group seemed to (on hindsight) succeed in, threatening the dynamics of the existing group, so maybe that is how the takeover came about, Helen and Jim, introduced to me by Sam and Jean,( the coordinators of our field,) worked with us for one year only then the next year were suddenly installed as the new co-coordinators.... the original team completely ousted.......Regime change!!!!!!!!!! In January 2002 I emailed Sam and Jean letting them know i had survived the winter yet again and wondering what new exciting plans they had, if any....and that I was up for it still. I didn't get a reply. In May, one month before the festival I got a letter telling me they were relieving me of my responsibilities......my response was at first of disbelief. , gutted ...this area was our baby ,we had conceived of it nurtured, cared for it , it had developed under our and then my guidance, invested almost ten years into developing the area. with expenses only… there were several memorial trees to loved ones who had died........and they just "relieved me of my responsibilities" and replaced me with people of their choice....no reason given, no respect given to the history and all the energy of those who had worked hard with me over the years...I would have liked to have had the choice of gradually handing over to people who had a connection with it. If this had happened in a workplace I'm sure there would have been union support , but in this alternative area of "GREEN FUTURES" I had no negotiating power, Michael didn't seem to know what was happening and as it all happened just before the festival he had no time to deal with festival politics.

One of the  criticisms received, amongst others, from the green futures co-ordinator was “he wanted the area to represent the" PURE SCIENCE OF PERMACULTURE ," I had too many agendas , too much multi-cultural diversity of capoiera, drumming etc .too much fun going on ,perhaps!!!!

Jack Everett called it " a pioneering experiment accommodating people by hostessing with plants. Also the success of that small corner of the mega fest. that was able to point to the future whist simultaneously being the torch carrier of the spirit of the seminal 1973 Glastonbury Fair..." and he should know. It was lots of things, Inspiring to people, both to those who were involved working there and those who came across it in early morning wanderings. I was always most touched when a teenager expressed his/her appreciation of the space we offered, as I often questioned why I was putting so much energy into it ,but that always made it worth it to hear that it had touched a kid's heart.

It took me a while to distance myself far enough away emotionally to be able to tell the story, as it was a slap in the face for the ten years of commitment invested in designing and creating the area, and providing an educational experience for many volunteers and festival goers over those years. and also the hurt of betrayal by colleagues within a movement that I believed and believe is about world change.

2002 Due to ill health and housing issues, I was also returning to full time education. I started to focus more on designing the plan for a permanent permaculture area, a land based permaculture project as first base for base eco arts collective to work from.

That took me researching in portugal, spain and france over several years, where I made good connections. But there has still  been a strong pull to make something happen here. The plan is to establish a permaculture centre of education for the practical study of sustainability and the creative arts, particularly youth focused but integrateing all ages and learning from the wisdom of the elders.