I lived on Turners’ Field for seventeen years in a unique building made from two mobile homes joined together with an extension made from recycled materials. During that time the land was transformed through the work of many hands, from a bare ploughed field to a beautiful mixed ecosystem. I sometimes say it should now be called a jungle instead of a field!

I bought Turners’ Field with two years left to run on a residential permission to live on site in a mobile home for proven agricultural use. I knew that I wouldn’t be continuing the business of growing plants and vegetables for sale, but I was determined to make the attempt to live and work by practising what I soon came to hear was being called permaculture. It seemed to me that facilitating the learning of growing food, managing trees for fuel, recycling grey water, composting sewage and all the other skills of eco-communitarian living, was agriculturally, socially and economically valuable.

Two public inquiries and a high court appeal later, people working in the planning authorities decided that what I was doing was not viable or beneficial to society. The enforcement notice was still staring me in the face, with its threats of fining and eventual imprisonment if I failed to comply with it and move out of my home of 17 years and off the land that I loved and was committed to go on looking after. I decided that enough was enough of living on that kind of edge. I deconstructed the buildings and moved into a rented home around the corner.

 At my cottage five minutes walk around the corner from Turners’ Field, I use the shower water to flush the toilet, sometimes host permaculture colleagues and volunteers in a tiny spare room and operate a small community compost scheme for the 5 or 6 closest houses. I continue to look after Turners’ Field.

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