A Heritage Rooted in Rebellion
Born in 1951 to a family decimated by anti-Semitism and recuperating in an exhausted, post-war Great Britain, David’s rebellious streak, passion, and conviction run strong in his DNA. His mother’s family migrated to England to escape the pogroms of late 19th century Russia. His father, Dežo Hoffmann, immigrated to England from Slovakia after his entire family had been killed in the Holocaust. Dežo had earned his stripes as a photojournalist while covering the Spanish Civil War, alongside comrades Ernest Hemingway and Robert Capa. When he later shifted to photographing celebrities like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, David was able to experience the 1960s through a magnifying lens, with The Who’s Pete Townshend living just down the road. “I grew up in a left-wing type of family,” David explains. “So everything in my life was in the context of ‘we can change it.’ That must have been happening to lots of people, because suddenly the Sixties’ Revolution was going on. Without knowing it, I was in the right place at the right time. I thought it was normal, but it really was quite amazing.” For David, the hippie movement was a burst of sunshine that allowed him to find joy, a love of nature, and a voice against oppression.
Embracing the Green
In 1970, following a personal pilgrimage to India, David knew that he couldn’t return to mainstream, consumer culture—a realization that put him in the mindset to study ecology and help heal the planet. After finishing his degree at the University of Sussex, he began lecturing on ecology at the University of Wales. During that time, he was faced with a nagging choice: to pursue a Ph.D. in Ethiopia to study freshwater snails or to follow his intuition and start an intentional community of like-minded people in Wales. Much to his surprise, he chose Wales. His affirmation came a month later when the research station in Ethiopia was bombed in the Ethiopian Civil War; it was the decision that would lead him to herbalism.