In 2009, founding directors Lorena Viladomat and Philip Jones decided to make a cycle trip from England to Palestine in order to raise funds to implement an integrated aquaculture irrigation project in a village near Bethlehem. They departed from north Yorkshire on World Water Day (22 March 2010), arriving in Bethlehem 16 countries and three months later.After working independently for a couple of years, three more people, passionate about sustainable development and resource management, were invited to join the Byspokes team. Each director brings a distinct skill set and area of expertise to Byspokes.
Since our first project, Byspokes has developed and implemented a number of diverse projects, training courses and other activities, both independently and in collaboration with other organisations. We have grown to become a competent and respected organisation in the field of sustainable development, and registered as a Community Interest Company in the United Kingdom in 2013.
Byspokes mission and principles
Meet the team
The Byspokes team brings together strong academic backgrounds and a wealth of practical experience in the fields of community development; education; sustainable agriculture and aquaculture; ecology and conservation; soil, water and resource management.
Philip holds a B.Sc in “marine biology and zoology”, and an M.Sc in “marine environmental protection”, both from the University of Wales, Bangor, and holds Chartered Biologist status from the British Society of Biology.
His work and research has taken him to Central and South America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Since co-founding Byspokes in 2009 Philip has been involved with designing and implementing sustainable aquaculture and agriculture projects for food security enhancement, funded through grassroots networks, local and international NGOs and international development agencies. Philip also works with the private sector, providing consultancy services for the development of larger scale, sustainable food production projects.
Lorena holds an M.Sc in “Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture” from the university of Exeter, and studied “3rd World Development Studies” at undergraduate level. She has extensive experience with recirculating and water efficient crop production systems, and studied the potential for using natural plant growth promoting and biocontrol agents in these systems as part of her M.Sc thesis. This research took her from the laboratories at Exeter to several filed sites across Thailand. Her passion for sustainable development has lead her to broaden her learning into the WASH sector through courses in water and sanitation in the U.K. and overseas. Since co-founding Byspokes in 2009, Lorena has been an active member of the Byspokes team, developing and implementing many projects in the field, particularly in the Middle East.“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Andrew studied Zoology with Animal Ecology at the University of Wales, Bangor, where he developed and formalised his passion for wildlife, natural systems and botany. Since then he has been working as a mainstream science teacher in East London through which he actively promotes the principals of sustainability and responsible food production to his students and local community groups through back yard projects, after-school clubs and setting up mini classroom systems. Through activities with Byspokes and our sister company Aqua Roots LTD, Andrew is currently working to enhance community food sovereignty in the U.K. Andrew is currently studying for a masters in Environmental Management with agriculture for which he is researching comparative efficiency of different crop production techniques.
Cara is an anthropologist with a background in food security, water management and human rights. She has undertaken research on a broad range of topics including forest resource use and tourism development; smallholder agriculture; and rights to water and sanitation. Cara has an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and two MSc degrees in ‘Plant Biodiversity’ and ‘Water Management and Fairtrade Tea Producers in Southern Uganda’ respectively. Cara has worked as a consultant for the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and spent two years with Oxfam UK in Palestine. Her work and research have taken her to Central America, East Africa and the Middle East She is currently based in the South of France where she works on political participation and accountability in water. She retains a strong interest in local food supply systems and sustainability.
Alice Gray is an experienced permaculture teacher and consultant who spent 8 years living and working in the Middle East from 2006-2014, but is now helping develop a Community Supported Agriculture project in North Wales at Tyddyn Teg Cooperative. She graduated with degrees in Ecology (Durham, 2003, BSc) and Soil Science (Bangor, 2006, MPhil) before moving to Bethlehem to work as a research assistant at the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem, a Palestinian environmental monitoring and development NGO. In 2008 she co-founded Bustan Qaraaqa, an experimental permaculture farm and international volunteer project, and acted as co-director, fund-raiser and community projects coordinator for over 4 years. In 2010 she was asked to found an environmental studies department at Palestine’s first liberal arts college (Al Quds Bard), and chaired the program for 3 years. Alice divides her time between (almost!) full-time farming in North Wales and supporting a number of grassroots community farming and permaculture initiatives around the world.
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Byspokes in the press and online
- Article about the British Aquaponics Association conference, at which Byspokes delivered a presentation on Aquaponics as a tool in food security and development – in The Guardian Newspaper (U.K. press, April 2014).
- Article (in Spanish) about Byspokes’ activities in Palestine, “Agricultura de resistencia en Palestina”, in Mas Periodismo (Spanish press, March 2014).
- Link to our project with IPCRI on their website: Growing Together (December 2013).
- Blog (in Japanese) about Byspokes in Wadi Rum (September 2012): Yoshi is abroad.
- Blog from Australia about aquaponics in Palestine (November 2011): Making Sense of Things.
- Article in The Ecologist magazine about permaculture in the middle east (January 2011).
- Article (in English) on Palestine News Network about Byspokes in Palestine (Palestinian press, August 2010).
- Article (in English) about Byspokes upcoming cycle ride and project in Guadalajara Reporter (Mexican press, February 2010).
- Article (in Spanish) about Byspokes upcoming cycle ride and project in Periodico Publico (Mexican press, February 2010).
- Small write up on Brookes Saddles website (March 2010).
- Article (in English) about Byspokes upcoming cycle ride and project in the Craven Herald (U.K. press, April 2010).
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