Marina Brown-O’Connell BSc, MEnv, Cert POP,  Apricot Centre Director, Horticulturist, Biodynamic Farmer, Permaculture Designer

Marina studied Horticulture at University, and her 1st 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. In the late 1980's she 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 she studied Biodynamic techniques at Hood Manor, with the study group and attended one of the first Permacuture Design courses in the UK with Andy Langford. She was offered a lecturing post at Suffolk Agricultural college in 1996 to train in Sustainable Horticulture at FE and HE levels,  including Biodynamic techniques and Permaculture design. During this period she completed a Masters degree at Essex University on Environment and Society. Mark and Marina bought 83 Hungerdown Lane and adopted 2 children in 2000, and built the Apricot centre in 2006 on taking voluntary redundancy from the college. Having a 4 acre bare site, the orchards and intensive cropping areas were planned and laid out using Permaculture design techniques and the soil and ground treated with Biodymanic preparations,  15 years on the weaving of these techniques has proved that these systems work, with  beautiful and productive system. The Apricot centre has worked extensively with children and other groups as a demonstration for sustainable methods, and Marina particularly enjoys working with children on the farm, gathering food, cooking and eating it and generally having fun. Marina has sold her produce via the Growing Communities Organic Farmers Market (which won the prestigious Best independent retailer of the year The Observer  2012) in Hackney for the last 10 years. 

Mark O’Connell - Dip POP (Zurich, UK), Dip FT (Plymouth), Dip Adoption & Attachment (Family Futures), Apricot Centre Director (Wellbeing Service for Children & Families), Child Psychotherapist

Mark has worked for many years with children and families as a process-oriented psychotherapist and now Child Psychotherapist. He has a strong interest in nature and sustainability, and the potential of a relationship with nature for a sense of wellbeing. He leads an NHS clinical team working therapeutically with looked after and adopted children and their carers in Suffolk. Mark’s work is founded in Process Oriented Psychology (Dr Arnold Mindell and colleagues –, complemented and informed by attachment, attunement, traumawork and neurological approaches. He is a founding member of the Research Society for Process Oriented Psychology in the UK, and is now on the international board of PWI. Process Oriented Psychology or 'Process Work' is an awareness-based psychotherapeutic approach with roots in Jungian Depth Psychology, Taoism, Shamanism, Systems Theory, with the focus on cocreating and working with nature and life processes. For the past two decades he has been applying and developing Process Oriented approaches in working with children and families. He has recently developed a Process Oriented Attunement approach to encourage and give skills for carer to attune to the nature and feedback of their looked after or adopted child. This approach has remarkable similarities to sensitively working with the land. Mark is an experience practitioner, clinical leader and manager, with a good background in collaborative work with stakeholders, working with principles of Deep Democracy, towards sustainable team and organisational work.