Marina Brown-O'Connell

Head Honcho
Marina Brown-O'Connell

I studied Horticulture at The University of Bath. My first full-time job was at the Horticultural Training workshop at Dartington Hall in South Devon, working with young people in the grounds and small market garden.

By the late 1980's, I had developed what is now School Farm from a bare field site using Permaculture design skills, and this was run organically, training up to 30 people per year. During the 10 years at Dartington I studied Biodynamic farming, and attended one of the first Permaculture Design courses in the UK with Andy Langford. I was offered a lecturing post at Suffolk Agricultural college in 1996 to train in Sustainable Horticulture at FE and HE levels. During this period completed a Masters degree at Essex University on Environment and Society. I bought 83 Hungerdown Lane with Mark O’Connell. This was a 4-acre bare site. We put orchards and intensive cropping areas using Permaculture design techniques and rejuvenated the soil using Biodynamic preparations. In 2006, we founded The Apricot Centre to work primarily with children in either a therapeutic or education context amongst the orchards.

In 2015, The Apricot Centre took on the tenancy for Huxhams Cross Farm, in Dartington and I worked with the embryonic team to design the new farm. I carry the focus of the Farm management as well as the strategic development of the farm and food systems. I head up the training offer at the Apricot Centre, delivering the Permaculture Design course, the Biodynamic training and Agroforestry. I am a tutor for the Permaculture Diploma. I also carry out consultancy designing farms and holdings using the toolkit of Permaculture design, Biodynamic methods and Agroforestry.

I shop with the Apricot Centre because the quality of the produce surpasses what supermarkets can offer. It's grown or sourced locally and gives back to the economy in the area. It's important to me to spend wisely and ethically.

— Andy Williamson

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