6th Organic Producers' Conference Speaker and Chair biographies
Prof Miguel Altieri
Miguel Altieri is a Professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. He received a BS in Agronomy from the University of Chile and holds a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Florida. He teaches courses in agroecology, agro-forestry and urban agriculture. He is an advocate of agroeocology as the basis for a resilient, biodiverse and productive agriculture and has developed practical alternatives to industrial agriculture. He is a supporter of small farmers around the world and is engaged in policy discussions at the global level conducive to food sovereignty,. He conducts most of his research in California and Latin Aemrica working closely with farmers and workers to implement principles of agroecology, biological control and other sustainable practices. He is the author of more than 250 publications, and numerous books including Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture and Biodiversity, Pest Management in Agroecosystems and Agroecology and the Search for a Truly Sustainable Agriculture. He is the President of the Scientific Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA-www.agroeco.org/socla)
Richard’s maternal grandparents were Dairy farmers, originally from North Cardiff, but who moved their farm to Chepstow in the 1930’s. Richard worked on a fruit farm in the Vale of Glamorgan after school, before attending Agricultural college in Kent. Over the last 20 years Richard has worked for a variety of foods businesses in the UK and beyond, and spent 6 years with Organic Farm Foods in the Naughties. Since 2006 Richard has worked in regional marketing, helping to bring Leek, Daffodil and latterly milk bottling back to Wales for retail supply.
Jade has worked in the local food sector for many years, including 12 years for the Soil Association. She has been involved in public procurement, community planning and introducing new models, most recently Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a trainer and advisor. She is active in community and commercial local food schemes herself, for example as a founder and director of Stroud Community Agriculture and Stroud Brewery.
Dr Peter Bates
Ph.D.,MSB.,C.Biol.,FRES - Peter is a Parasitologist with over 36 years experience. He worked at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), Weybridge, for 33 years, the latter 10 years as Head of the Parasitology Section. He gained his Ph.D, on the epidemiology of sheep scab (Psoroptes ovis) from the University of Wales, Bangor in 2000. He left the VLA in 2008 to set up as an independent consultant specialising in training and education, research and development, clinical trials and forensic entomology. Although Peter specialises in the ectoparasites affecting domestic and companion animals he is actively involved in projects concerning parasitic worms and protozoa. He lectures at Glasgow Veterinary School and the University of Surrey on subjects as far apart as fleas and malaria! He considers himself to be a practical, field-based parasitologist and in his “spare” time runs a small sheep flock and fatten free-range turkeys and pigs for the seasonal market - consequently he is well versed in the day to day aspects of parasite control.
Following her degree Anna spent nine years as a farm manager, primarily working on free range pig units.The management role involved overseeing and integrating other farm enterprises such as beef, sheep and cropping into the whole farm system. In 2002 Anna took up an advisory role with the Soil Association. She managed the technical advisory team for the food and farming department specialising in livestock and poultry. Anna now works as a consultant, specialising in high welfare livestock management. She still has strong links with the Soil Association but recently much of her work has been carried out in the US, initially for the American retailer Whole Foods Market Inc and now for the American group Animal Welfare Approved, rolling out a high welfare farm assurance program across the US.
Abacus Organic Associates. Stephen has worked with organic systems in the UK and overseas in both consultancy and research roles for over 15 years. He has particular expertise in soil management, organic arable crop production systems, agroforestry and organic business management. Stephen has a particular interest in the development of organic farming systems without livestock, the development of agroforestry systems, the use of green manures to manipulate soil nutrient dynamics and the development of bi-cropping systems to enhance yields through the better use of available soil nutrients. Stephen farms c.300 acreas of organic cereals, pulses and specialist seed crops. He has 125acres of agroforestry in Cambridgeshire. Stephen is a 2011 Nuffield Farming Scholar and is studying agroforestry in North America, Europe, China and Australasia.
A PhD student at the University of Reading. Obtained a BSc Biological Sciences from the University of Lancaster. 2000-2003, then went on to MSc Biodiversity and Conservation: University of Leeds. 2007-2008 PhD Multiple ecosystem benefits from novel crop mixtures 2010-ongoing. Rob’s interests are the Understanding the role of plant diversity in promoting insect biodiversity, Interactions of farm management and ecosystem service, and Conservation and farmland biodiversity.
Arjen (pronounced Aryen) completed his veterinary degree at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He worked in mixed private practice in Wales and Cumbria before joining the State Veterinary Service and working from the Carmarthen Animal Health Divisional Office. Arjen worked on secondment to the SVS Welsh Regional Office as Veterinary Advisor and successfully applied for one of the Veterinary Adviser posts when the Welsh Assembly Government established the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer in 2005. His current role includes providing veterinary and technical advice to policy makers in the Welsh Government on various endemic diseases, zoonoses, surveillance and the animal health and welfare strategy. Arjen has successfully worked to improve awareness of animal health planning as a tool for preventative medicine and to get veterinary animal health planning included for farmers in the partially funded farming connect mentoring scheme.
Andrew is Director of Agriculture at Produce World, and was born and raised in vegetable farming. He went to Shuttleworth Agricultural College and has served on a range of committees including Soil Association, HDC and British Carrot Growers.
Mike has been the face of Hi Peak on organic poultry farms for more than a decade. His responsibilities involve co-ordinating egg production among Hi Peak producers, advising both on feed and business plans. Through Hi Peak customers nationwide he has been pivotal in demonstrating the commercial viability of 100% organic poultry rations. He is particularly interested in matching feed specification with breed type.
Dr Dan Carpenter
Dan is a Post-doctoral Research Assistant in the Soil Biodiversity Group at the Natural History Museum. He completed a BSc in Wildlife Conservation at the University of East London and a PhD in Soil Science at the University of Reading. His research interests are in understanding patterns of diversity of soil invertebrates and their role in ecosystem processes. He is particularly interested in earthworms, their distribution in the UK and their roles in decomposition and mineral weathering process in soils. Dan is the Secretary for the Earthworm Society of Britain.
Sarah has wide-ranging knowledge of the arable sector, through her research work in the area, her PhD in crop science and degree in Agriculture, as well as her practical experience of working and living on farms. In her role at ADAS, she manages physiology projects looking at crop nutrition and canopy size manipulation, and is working on a project with breeders to develop new wheat varieties using physiology based approaches. She is also a FACTS qualified advisor and regularly gives talks to farmers and advisors on the latest developments in the arable sector. Her previous position at The Organic Research Centre - Elm Farm involved research on Composite Cross Populations, managing wheat crops, oats for organic systems and participatory research.
Stephen has been involved in organic production for 15 years now. His first involvement came as a herdsman on a non-organic, Shropshire, dairy farm where the decision was taken to convert to organic production. In January 2002 he was employed by OF&G as a Certification Officer looking after the day to day management of 300 clients. In 2008 he was promoted to Certification Manager and now manages the team of Producer and Processor Certification Officers.
The science of farming is Mike’s passion, and it was with great interest that he was able to take his position as Poultry Manager at FAI, bridging the gap between the accelerating sciences of livestock farming and the practicalities of free range organic economy. He grew up in rural Lincolnshire and worked his way up to Area Farm Management in his mid twenties. During a career break in his thirties he worked for the Church and returned to his childhood hobby of breeding traditional poultry whereby he rediscovered the animal that has given us so much and yet is so poorly understood.
Finn has worked within the food industry for 25 years, with major experience of marketing, business development and buying within two of the UKs' largest supermarkets and a major food manufacturer. More recently she has specialised within the organic industry, working for both the Organic Trade Board and the Soil Association as a Trade Consultant, bringing a different perspective to development within the organic market. Over the last 18 months, Finn has been working with Soil Association certified businesses and organisations, advising on the market and opportunities for future growth.
Iain is the founder and Director of Ecostudio, a sustainable development consultancy established in Wales since 2008. Supply chain resilience, new product development, accessing new markets, packaging, branding, resource use and distribution are among the common challenges facing food businesses today. Iain’s experience is in designing programmes for rural development agencies, policy makers and business support organisations, and delivering strategies for food and farming companies to overcome these challenges through innovative and sustainable practices. Over the last 12 years he has worked as an advisor to many small and medium sized companies, and he has co-written several publications on sustainable business practice in food supply chains.
Philip has been Farm Manager at Merrimoles Farms for 9 years, his first organic experience. He has been in Farm Management for 17 years, previously in Wiltshire managing an arable and beef farm. Originally from Dorset he was trained at Bicton College and Seale Hayne College, Devon. He has travelled extensively and worked on various farm types in UK and abroad.
Adrian is the Farm Manager at the Barrington Park Estate situated in the Cotswold Hills AONB. The farm totals 2,800 organic hectares with 2,400 in an arable rotation, 3,000 breeding ewes, 100 suckler cows and 13,000 laying hens with all fresh and liquid egg sold direct to customers. Adrian has been farming for 26 years working for Velcourt and Andersons the farm business consultants. Following a sabbatical at the Royal Agricultural College School of Business he joined Barrington Park in 1999, overseeing the transition to organic conversion. He currently sits on the Soil Association Farmer and Grower Board. In 2010 he spoke at TED Global and was a finalist in the BBC Food and Farming Awards, Farmer of the Year 2011.
Dr Thomas Döring
Thomas studied Landscape Ecology at Münster University (Germany) and Agriculture and the Environment in Aberystwyth, finishing his degree in 2000 with a thesis on carabid beetles in organic and conventional arable fields. Staying in the area of insect research in organic agriculture, he moved on to Kassel University (Germany) for a PhD on the control of aphid transmitted viruses in organic seed potatoes. He worked as postdoctoral researcher in the area of insect pest behaviour at Queen Mary University London and Imperial College London before joining the Organic Research Centre in April 2009 as Leader of the Crops Programme.
John farms in the family partnership, 8 miles south of Shrewsbury and began conversion to organic in 1998. We milk 180 crossbred cows on a high forage diet,grazing for 9 months on rotational paddocks and on self feed silage in winter. Aberdeen Angus X cattle and some Friesian steers are grazed and finished on Red clover haylage. We grow some cereals for our own use and oats for milling. John is the current President of the British Grassland Society.
John is a Soil Association horticultural apprentice at The Community Farm, Chew Magna, Somerset. He joined the field staff of the farm full-time in April 2010 after a year working as a volunteer there, which inspired him to make a mid-life change of career into organic growing. The farm is a Community Supported Agriculture business owned by 450 community investors and operates a commercial box scheme and wholesale operation in the Bristol and Bath area.
David (BSc. Agric) worked for 10 years as agricultural adviser with SAC. Took over family’s 340ha. rented upland farm in 1987 and diversified into ice-cream manufacture and tourism in 1994. Completed organic conversion 2001. Planted 35,000 deciduous trees 2001-2006. BBC Farmer of the Year 2006. Employs 25 full-time and 40 seasonal staff; has 90 dairy cows –SRB/Ayr./Br.Fr. crosses @ 7000l from 2t concentrates, 500 Greyface and Blackface ewes and a small suckler herd; all stock sold finished.
Catherine is a consultant working for the Organic Trade Board and Sustain. She is currently co-ordinating the Why I Love Organic EU funded £2m promotion campaign on behalf of the organic industry and Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. She is also Membership Co-ordinator of the Organic Trade Board. Her degrees in Business Studies with French and her Masters in Development Studies led her to work first at an advertising agency, then ActionAid and also the Soil Association as a Campaigner before joining Sustain. At Sustain, she was Co-ordinator of the Organic Targets Bill Campaign which resulted in an Action Plan for Organic Farming and greater financial support for organic farmers. In 2008, she wrote a major report “Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie” investigating nursery school food for Organix and the Soil Association. She was a Government adviser on organic farming standards on Defra's "Advisory Committee on Organic Standards" (ACOS). She also organizes the Children's Food Academy at Abergavenny Food Festival, the largest (and best!) food festival in the UK.
Sue is Director of Organic Centre Wales and currently project director of the Better Organic Business Links (BOBL) project: a £2M EU EAFRD and Welsh Government funded programme to develop and increase the sustainability of the organic food chain in Wales. Sue was a farms inspector and has over fifteen years of organic research experience ranging from nutrient cycling to economics as well as in the environmental impacts of organic farming. She is a champion of benchmarking – both financial and environmental as a means of encouraging progress and good farm management. She was formerly a Trustee of the Soil Association and Chaired their Standards Board for 6 years.
Having worked for 12 years in Defra’s organic team, Robin now heads the team’s international section and is the UK’s lead representative at the Standing Committee on Organic Farming and the Council Working Group on Organic Farming. He has been involved in a number of meetings regarding the move to try to achieve a 100% organic diet for monogastrics.
Richard farms at Yatesbury in Wiltshire on silty clay loam soil over lower chalk at the edge of the Marlborough Downs. Conversion to organic farming started in 1998 for this mostly cropped farm. Wheat, beans and malting barley are grown along with a pedigree Aberdeen Angus suckler herd. Clover pastures are an integral part of the rotation with around 25 varieties of various species of legumes, herbs and grasses. The farm has always seeked to avoid using the plough due to the soil conditions, so in 2004 the plough was sold to focus on the alternative methods of farming the soil
Brian farms with his father at Eling farm in Hermitage which is part of the Eling Estate where they have been since 1927. Over the years they have steadily expanded within the estate and in recent years taken over the farming of Elm Farm and another similar sheep unit. In the late 1990s they converted the whole farm to Organic. This was driven by a desire to cut out the use of fertilisers and chemicals and a general unhappiness with the way conventional farming was being driven. They have always milked cows and in 2001 built a new green field site dairy based on a New Zealand type system.
An organic beef farmer based in NW England, specializing in delivery of conservation grazing regimes for sites of high nature-value owned by a variety of environmental organisations and wildlife charities. Bill is also a part-time organic adviser and ecological consultant/lecturer.
Peter is nutritionist at Hi Peak Organic Feeds. He is responsible for formulating the Company’s full range of organic rations, which caters for all livestock types. He is also accountable for ‘on farm’ technical advice and has been at the forefront of helping develop 100% organic feeds, both for ruminants and monogastrics. A Harper Adams graduate, Peter advocates a fully transparent approach to organic nutrition, which he believes necessary to strengthen consumer confidence. He is a published author in specialist feed journals.
Dr James Hanks
James specialises in the development of livestock information systems. He is a director of PAN Livestock Services Ltd and regularly collaborates with the Veterinary Epidemiology & Economics Research Unit (VEERU) at the University of Reading. He also works closely with NMR on the effective use of milk recording and other sources of information. This involves regular training of farmers, vets and other technical advisers.
Roger has worked for the Organic Research Centre since 1998 and is currently Principal Consultant and Information Services Team Leader. His background is in soil science and education, and he was a commercial organic vegetable grower for 8 years. Prior to joining the Organic Research Centre he worked in further education delivering courses in organic production and a range of science subjects. He has been involved in a range of research and development projects including organic supply chains, seeds, an alternative sector review for the National Assembly of Wales, vegetable market studies/surveys, integrity audits, and environmental benchmarking. He is secretary to the Organic Growers Alliance and was a member of the UK Government’s Advisory Committee on Organic Standards and Chair of its Technical Committee.
Leen Organics is a small scale horticultural holding situated in the West of Ireland selling vegetables and fruit primarily through Ennis Farmers’ Market (Co Clare) and also through a local wholefood shop. They first sold organic eggs in 1998 and this continues to be an important part of the business. A more recent development is the renovation of a building on the farm as an eco-holiday cottage. Jason is also the chair of the “Organic Growers of Ireland” a representative body for Irish growers. He has been teaching organic horticulture part time for the last 5 years and recently completed a Masters in Organic Farming with the Scottish Agricultural College in Aberdeen.
Arjen did his training in biodynamic horticulture in Holland. After completion he worked in Sweden, and ran his own market gardens in Germany and later in Holland. Ten years ago he moved to the UK to work as a teacher in biodynamic horticulture at Emerson College (now Biodynamic Agricultural College). Alongside his work as a teacher, in 2006 he started Wealden Flowers, a 6 acre organic/biodynamic cut flower farm. Arjen regularly teaches one-day courses in small-scale cut flower production. For more information visit: www.bdacollege.org.uk and www.wealdenflowers.co.uk
Andrew founded and developed Meridian Foods in North Wales over 25 years until he sold the company in 1999. He served for seven years on the UK Register of Food Standards, and a further seven years chairing its successor body, the Advisory Committee on Organic Food Standards, until it was closed down by the government in 2010. He was also a member and chair of the Organic Strategy Group in Wales. He continues his food industry experience by acting as a mentor to SME food companies. As well as being a trustee of ORC, Andrew chairs Cadwyn Clwyd rural development company, is a member of the Better Organic Business Links project steering group and is a director of Rhug Ltd organic farm and shop. He also serves as a member of the ORC Council of Management.
Will is the main grower at Canalside Community Food, working with a manager and another grower. He has been there for a year and a half. Canalside is a CSA in its 6th year with a membership of 130, which is their target membership. Will has been working in horticulture since 2005; he started as a WWOOFer on a small CSA in Uppsala, Sweden. In 2009 he finished the S.A. apprenticeship scheme at Coleshill Organics in Oxfordshire.
Poppy is the Low Carbon Farming project manager at the Soil Association. She joined the Soil Association in 2006 where she worked within the Producer Certification team providing support to farmers and growers and latterly managing the team of certification officers. She moved to the Producer Support team early in 2011 to lead the Low Carbon Farming project. Coming from a farming family, Poppy has a strong agricultural background and interest in the environment which led to her career within the organic farming sector. Her key expertise is in soil science and climate change in relation to farming systems and the environment.
After graduating in Agriculture, Bob worked in UK and tropical agricultural management for some years before returning to the UK in the mid-1980’s, where he became a tropical agriculture consultant. The pioneering and award-winning organic meat brand Graig Farm Organics (GFO) was started by Bob and his wife in mid-Wales in 1988 and was sold in March 2009. The group of organic livestock farmers supplying GFO was a fairly loose arrangement of producers until the mid-1990’s when a separate collaborative marketing group (Graig Producers) was established to supply the UK supermarkets with organic beef and lamb. It now has several hundred members across the UK, and Bob is currently Managing Director. He has been a member of the Welsh Assembly’s Organic Strategy Group and other committees, as well as being instrumental in the campaign to save the UK’s smaller abattoirs in 2000.
Roger was born in Warwickshire and spent much of his childhood on a dairy farm in Sussex. He studied Agriculture at Harper Adams and went on to work in the agricultural supply industry for ten years before setting up his own consultancy partnership specialising in organic agriculture in 1999. Roger has been involved with Calon Wen from its inception and worked with the original four founding farmers to establish the business before accepting the full time role of Managing Director in 2002.
Prof Nic Lampkin
Nic is Director of the Organic Research Centre and formerly Director of Organic Centre Wales and Senior Lecturer at Aberystwyth University. He has been involved in organic farming research since the 1990s, with a particular focus on economic and policy issues and is author of Organic Farming, co-editor of the Organic Farm Management Handbook, and more recently has led the development of a tool box for the evaluation of organic farming action plans. He is also Chair of the Welsh Organic Strategy Group.
Dr Katharine Leach
Katharine has recently started working at the Organic Research Centre as Senior Livestock Researcher, funded by an EU project on Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairy Systems. This follows seven years at the University of Bristol, working on projects aiming to reduce mastitis and lameness on dairy farms. Prior to this she was based in Scotland, for a Degree in Animal Production, a PhD project looking at cows’ feet in microscopic detail, and work at SAC Crichton Royal Farm, including a systems study comparing clover based and high output dairy systems.
Chris qualified from the Royal Veterinary College in 1963 (B.Vet.Med., DSHP, DipECSRHM MRCVS), after a short time as an assistant in East Anglia and established a very mixed practice in the Lake District. Following this, he moved into the veterinary pharmaceutical industry first with TVL which was absorbed into Coopers Animal Health. He then joined the Veterinary Investigation Service at Shrewsbury and was retired in 1998, immediately to be re-employed on a part time basis for a further 3 years or so. Following training for a certificate in Sheep health and production and subsequent Diploma (DSHP), this led him to set up hos own consultancy business, Sheep Veterinary Services and he became a recognised Sheep specialist of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). Chris was one of the Founder Diplomates of the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management (ECSRHM) and was closely involved as a Stakeholder in the 2001/7 FMD outbreaks as well as the Bluetongue outbreak. He was a Director of the Moredun Foundation for 9 years from 2001 to 2010. He has been a member of the Soil Association‘s Agricultural Standards Committee for several years and runs a small flock (35 breeding ewes) producing prime lamb sold privately.
After graduating from Writtle Agric College Chris spent 16 years working for the National Sheep Association, in a wide variety of roles bringing him into contact with organisations and political bodies across the industry. In 1999 he was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship to study the sheep industries of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The scholarship allowed him to experience first hand the developing management and technology utilised by our competitors in their breeding and marketing sectors. He joined EBLEX in August 2003 as Project Manager for the Sheep Better Returns Programme which has developed to cover Beef as well. His current role as Industry Development Manager covers all farmer facing EBLEX knowledge transfer activity. For the past twelve months he has also managed the EBLEX activity on Climate Change and the imminent publication of the third chapter in their Roadmap ‘Down to Earth’.
Dr Heather McCalman
Heather is the manager of the Grassland Development Centre Manager at IBERS. She graduated in agriculture from university of north Wales, Bangor and gained her PhD from Wye College. Heather worked for ADAS as a livestock specialist before travelling and working abroad, and developed an interest in organic farming research & development and extension at Aberystwyth University. She has been part of the Grassland Development Centre team at IBERS for 10 years where she takes the lead for GDC in organic farming. The GDC team ‘bridges the gap’ between farmers and researchers in technology transfer programmes that deliver through a range of extension methods including farmer and industry training, participative R & D, technical delivery and facilitating discussion and demonstration farm groups, and varied written material. Technical areas include production and environmental aspects of soils, forage and grassland across the conventional and organic livestock sectors as well as habitat training for Agri-environment schemes arable workshops and energy crops.
Dr Athole Marshall
Athole leads the Public Good Plant Breeding Group at IBERS, Aberystwyth University where he has overall responsibility for all the plant breeding programmes within the institute. He is actively involved in the research within the forage plant breeding programmes as well as variety development, early generation seed production and maintaining links with commercial partners.
Federica is a PhD student at the University of Bristol. The title of her PhD is “Promoting action, appreciation and interest in animal welfare”. She is particularly interested in the evaluation of interactions between animal owners and groups of people that are in direct contact with them, for instance farm assurance assessors and farmers, and vets and their clients. Federica is currently focussing on how these interactions can promote the interest of animal owners to take action to improve the welfare of their animals.
Director, Institute of Organic Training and Advice (IOTA). Mark is an independent organic agriculture consultant specialising in advice and training in farm business management, husbandry, conversion planning and organic systems development. Mark has 25 years of organic farming experience; he established the Organic Advisory Service (EFRC) in 1985 and headed it for 15 years and initiated and coordinated the establishment of the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative. He has an extensive knowledge of all aspects of organic production and its markets, research and standards development. He has travelled widely and has experience of organic extension throughout the world. Mark currently works through a number of organic organisations and producer groups including heading the Organic Systems Development Programme at EFRC. He is a partner in a mixed organic farm, joint editor of the biannual Organic Farm Management Handbook and Director of IOTA, which provides training, information and accreditation to advisers throughout the UK.
John has been farm manager at Abbey Home Farm, Cirencester since 1992. A family partnership of 650 ha of award winning mixed organic farming comprising of dairy, sheep, pigs, poultry, beef, arable, grassland and vegetable enterprises, there is also an award winning farm shop and café and on farm processing of dairy and poultry products and a butchery. The farm was a founder member of The Organic Milk suppliers Co-Op Ltd and has been involved with a number of collaborative organic marketing initiatives. John is a director of The Organic Seed Producers Ltd and of Organic Arable, and chairman of the Soil Association agricultural standards committee.
Dr Pip Nicholas
Pip is a Senior Research Associate in the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, Wales. She has a background in plant ecology (PhD in Pasture Ecology from Massey University, New Zealand) and during her time in the UK has developed an interest in organic farming, particularly in the areas of organic livestock production, mainly dairying. More recently Pip has moved into the area of Social Science research, still in relation to organic and sustainable farming systems, but concentrating more on farmer behaviour, supply chains, food quality and policy issues. For the last 10 years Pip has worked on mainly large collaborative projects funded by the EU and Defra and is currently Project Managing as well as carrying out research on a new EU funded project called Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying (www.solidairy.eu).
Dr Susanne Padel
Susanne is the team leader of the socio-economic research team at ORC. Susanne has worked with the organic sector and market development in UK and Europe since 1985. She has a background in extension and completed her PhD in Agricultural Economics (UWA) on conversion of dairy farms to organic farming in 2002. She is one of the editors of the Organic Farm Management Handbook. Recent project work related to the revision of the organic regulation, values and principles and policy support. She currently works on consumer attitudes to certification and ethical attributes or organic food.
Dr Bruce Pearce
Bruce joined The Organic Research Centre (Berkshire, UK) in 1999 and is responsible for overseeing the research programmes and contracts of the organisation. His research activities covers a wide range of areas include work on seed and variety rights, monogastric production, farming system assessment, implications of GM and participatory research methods. Prior to joining The Organic Research Centre he was part of MAFF’s Chief Scientists Group, Horticulture Unit and worked for the Consumers Association’s Gardening Which? Magazine. He has a degree in Biological Sciences and PhD in Horticulture.
Lois has had a long association with grassland farming systems both organic and conventional. She started her career as a member of the Grassland Research Institute in Berkshire before moving to North Wyke in Devon. After 20 years with Elm Farm Research Centre she joined Abacus Organic Associates in 2007. Lois is a Trustee of the British Grassland Society and also a member of the Organic Grass Seed Working Group.
Arnie is a pre-eminent authority on growing media, especially peat-alternatives, including: green compost, forestry co products (NB bark), with unique proven expertise and experience in the use of green compost and other composted societal "wastes" in peat-replacement. He has 20 years' experience of the peat industry, and 38 years' experience of growing media from a commercial and technical standpoint in all three major markets: garden products, grower and amenity (including green roofing). A leading expert in the conversion of organic nutrient-rich "wastes" into fertilizers his current position is R&D manager at Vital Earth Ltd., Asbourne, Derbyshire, where he is responsible for development and quality management of a wide range of horticultural products, based on composted green waste and other organic feedstocks, for diverse markets. Provides technical support to all parts of the business, including identification of new business opportunities and technical liaison with other organisations.
Ben has worked in horticulture since 1994. He currently works as Head of Horticulture for the Soil Association. Previously he has run a walled garden in Sussex, worked for the HDRA (Garden Organic) at their gardens in Kent, set up and run the horticultural production at Daylesford organic Farm, before moving to the Welsh College of Horticulture as commercial manager. He is passionate both about the commercial production of high quality organic vegetables and teaching practical skills through on farm learning.
Dr Francis Rayns
Francis is currently Horticulture Research Manager at Garden Organic (formerly known as HDRA). He has been involved in a large number of projects (funded by Defra, HDC, WRAP, the EU and private companies) concerned with fertility management, particularly in organic field vegetable systems. This has included studies of the effects of a range of green manures, composts, animal manures and other soil amendments. He has worked to develop computer models for rotational planning and has been responsible for long term experiments to compare the effects of different rotations on soil quality and crop performance.
John and his partner Yvonne Leslie have been growing organic vegetables at Pencoed Growers for 25 years. In recent years they have diversified into growing Xmas trees, Willow, Shrubs for Flowers and Foliage, and Cut Flowers.
Iain is an inspector manager for Soil Association Certification Ltd based at home in Penrith, Cumbria. Before that he was a small scale organic farmer in Cumbria for 10 years after starting his working life on non organic livestock farms in the UK and abroad. Iain looks after a team of inspectors in the north of England and Scotland and manages the training for all the inspectors. For the last few years he has been working on incorporating animal welfare assessment in to our inspection/certification system.
Senior Farm Services Manager with Kingshay Farming and Conservation Ltd. Since joining Kingshay in 2002, Kathryn has played a key role in running and developing the Kingshay Dairy Manager costings service and currently manages the Farm Services Team. Kathryn analyses key performance data from the costings service for dairy farmers and leading feed companies. Overall data analysis is also included in articles Kathryn regularly writes for publication in the farming press. She has also been involved in farm discussion group meetings where all costs of production are discussed in more detail and benchmarked against full costs of production. Kathryn comes from a dairy farming background and through her customer service role within the Farm Services team has developed her ability to effectively communicate with farmers.
Dr Juern Sanders
Jüern holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wales and has received specialized training in organic farming in Germany and the USA. He works as a senior researcher at the German Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries (vTI) and is advising the German government in issues related to organic farming and agri-environmental policies. Since 2001 he has been involved in various international research projects with respect to agricultural policy and model based policy assessments.
Dr Lesley Smith
Lesley completed her PhD in herbivore grazing behaviour at SAC and The University of York in 2008. She now works as a researcher at SAC, and her research interests include the impact of animal behaviour on livestock disease and nutritional opportunities to reduce environmental foot prints of farm production systems.
Dr Jo Smith
Jo studied for an MSc in Biodiversity and Taxonomy at the Natural History Museum and Imperial College and for her dissertation compared soil macrofaunal communities in organic and non-organic gardens. She went on to complete a PhD on assessing the value of agri-environment schemes for soil biota with the Centre for Agri-Environment Research at the University of Reading, joint with the Soil Biodiversity group at the Natural History Museum. Then followed a year as lab manager/research assistant at the NHM working on a long-term monitoring programme of soil invertebrates in UK woodlands, before moving to the Organic Research Centre in June 2009. As an Agroecology researcher, Jo is responsible for the agroforestry programme, is investigating the value of agroforestry as a way of reconciling production with protection of the environment.
Director, EcoS Consultancy Ltd. and President, IFOAM EU GROUP Christopher has over 25 years experience working with European Commission and parliament, national government, NGO and corporate clients. EcoS Consultancy Ltd. was established in 1997 and provides research, technical and market development services for sustainable food with a primary focus on organic food and farming, climate change, animal welfare and pesticide policies. Christopher is an expert in the development of sustainable food and farming systems, policy, strategies, action plans and innovative techniques for production, processing and supply chain development. He was previously Head of Research at the Organic Research Centre – Elm Farm and has degrees in biological sciences and agriculture. He is a Board Member and Trustee of Pesticide Action Network – UK. He serves on the independent Certification Scrutiny Committee of Soil Association Certification Ltd.
Phil has worked in the research department at Garden Organic since 1999 (then HDRA). He grew up on a farm in Somerset before studying Rural Environment Studies at Wye College. After working on various organic farms he was the organic grower at Radford Mill Farm in Somerset between 1989 and 1996. At Ryton he has worked on various projects including; Conversion to Organic Vegetable Production, the Sustainable Organic Vegetable Network, Organic Weed Management and NIAB organic vegetable variety trials. He has just completed a four year collaborative European genetic resources project - 'Leafy Vegetable germplasm - stimulating use. Since 2002 Phil has also been an adviser with the Organic Advisory Service and has also converted a walled kitchen garden at Cotesbach, where he grows organic vegetables for sale through Naturally Good Food and Lutterworth farmers' market. He is also on the committee of Mercia Organic producers, the Organic Growers Alliance and is co-editor of The Organic Grower. He has contributed to a number of books including Organic Vegetable Production - a complete guide and Pest and Disease Management
Iain is an independent organic horticulture consultant specialising in advice and training in horticultural business development, vegetable box schemes, with a specialisation in Stockfree Organic systems. He is a practising organic vegetable producer on 18 acres and has been a Soil Association symbol holder since 1976. Iain worked closely for 10 years with Mark Measures starting as senior horticultural advisor with Elm Farm Research Centre. He has an extensive knowledge of all aspects of organic production and its markets, research and standards development. He has been involved with many national and international organic projects in more than 12 countries. Iain's own farm is used extensively for demonstration purposes with visitors from all over the world. He works closely with a group of clients delivering on-farm advice and specialises in a "systems approach" to deal with the problems of fertility, pests and diseases. He currently works through a number of organic organisations and producer groups. Iain is chairman of Thames Organic Growers and founding committee member and spokesman for the Organic Growers Alliance. Publications include "Growing Green" written jointly with Jenny Hall and an extensive range of papers and articles in various organic journals.
Mike was recently appointed Chairman of the International Tree Foundation (ITF), a charity that has promoted and funded sustainable community forestry projects in the UK and overseas, particularly in Africa, for almost 90 years and has been responsible for the establishment of hundreds of millions of trees. Prior to this, he was for 8 years the Chairman of Tree Aid, which works with vulnerable communities in Africa’s drylands to alleviate poverty and help cope with the impacts of environmental change, through community forestry and income generation projects. He has also been Vice Chair of a Sussex based mental health charity (2005-10). Mike spent his working life in the public and not-for-profit sectors. Working initially in central government (Department of the Environment - on transport policy, housing, urban regeneration and international environmental protection), he then held two Director posts at the Housing Corporation, was Executive Director of the National Association of Head Teachers, and subsequently held several freelance management roles in public agencies before retiring in 2010.
Pete has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Sheffield and a Masters degree in Water and Wastewater Engineering from Cranfield University. For the last 10 years Peter has worked for Severn Trent Water in the field of wastewater R&D. He undertook and implemented much of the research that led to Severn Trent’s adoption of biological nutrient removal processes for wastewater treatment, and he currently leads the R&D focus into maximising energy and nutrient recovery from wastewater biosolids.
Derk van Balen
Derk worked until 3 years for the extension service in conventional and the last 10 years in organic agriculture. He is responsible for the BASIS project at PPO-WUR (Wageningen University and Research Centre) and is working on several soil related projects.
Dr Robin Walker
Robin is Research Agronomist at SAC (Scottish Agricultural College), with a remit to develop sustainable production systems for crops, as well as being the tutor for the Organic Crop Production module of SAC’s Organic Farming PG Dip / MSc course. He has an interest in both organic and non-organic systems, with a desire to develop these systems to deliver benefits not only to the farmer, but to the wider environment. He manages the long-term organic rotation trial at SAC Aberdeen which has been running since 1991 and is used as a research platform in a number of cropping system research projects. He has a particular interest in crop / soil nutrient dynamics, which stems from his PhD investigating crop growth and N use in reduced input conditions. Over recent years, his work has concentrated on the development of systems utilising biological N fixation e.g. legumes into rotations. Robin also has a keen interest in the environmental impacts of crops, their varieties and their role in rotations within agricultural ecosystems. This covers pest, weed and disease issues, biodiversity aspects, GHG emissions as well as nutrient use efficiency of the systems (mostly N and P). He is also interested in crops with non-food uses (energy, industrial, pharmaceutical), as well as energy balance / LCA issues linked to these and the systems discussed, hence his interest in source separated human urine as a potential source of crop nutrients.
Dr Christine Watson
Christine holds the position of Reader in Organic Farming Systems at SAC. She has a degree in soil science and a PhD in farming systems. She leads a research team working on resource use in farming systems. Current research focuses on relationships between management practices and nitrogen and phosphorus cycling. She leads the Scottish Government RERAD research Work Package 1.7 (2006-2011) on sustainable cropping systems. Christine is on the editorial board of Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge and the Journal of Organic Agriculture. Current research is funded by EU, Defra, Natural England, FORMAS (Swedish Research Council on Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning), SNIFFER and Scottish Government.
David is Farm Manager of the Duchy Home Farm. The farm is used to demonstrate organic production methods both as a commercial working farm as well as through a number of research projects. David was a council member of the Soil Association for six years and is now an honorary life member. He sits on the Royal Agricultural College School of Agriculture Advisory Board and the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Farming Committee.
Elizabeth is a journalist who has been published in all the UK broadsheets. Soil Association editor for eight years (until 2009). Early adopter of social media, in 2008 launched and developed the Soil Association on Facebook and Twitter. Real Food Lover food blog shortlisted for 2009 Guild of Food Writers Awards and still going strong. Now PR specialist - print and online - for green companies and causes.
James is a member of the Defra Organic Team and heads the section that deals with the implementation of the EU organic Regulations in the UK. This involves providing guidance on the EU Regulations, ensuring that the organic control system works effectively in the UK and dealing with general queries. He has been a member of the Defra Organic Team for three and a half years.
Prof Martin Wolfe
Martin is Principal Scientific Advisor to the Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm. After a career at the publicly-funded Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, starting in 1960, he held the Chair of Plant Pathology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (1988-97). He now farms Wakelyns Agroforestry in Suffolk, which is the main site for ORC arable farming research. The field trials are rotated within six organic agroforestry systems, developed over the past 16 years to optimise functional biodiversity. The diversity theme is also evident in the current projects on crop population breeding as an alternative to the pure line approach.
Lawrence was Director of the Organic Research Centre – Elm Farm until 2010. He advises and speaks about the principles and methods of organic agriculture to a wide range of organisations. In 2001 he was awarded an O.B.E. for services to organic farming, having played a pivotal role in the strategic and practical development of the organic sector in the UK, Positions he has held include Chairman of the British Organic Standards Committee, Chairman of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Member of the Soil Association Council and Management Committee, Member of United Kingdom Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS) Board and the English Organic Action Plan task force. He was the founding chairman of OMSCo and the Organic Resource Agency (ORA) and is a former trustee of the New Economics Foundation. Currently he sits on the Boards of the European Consortium of Organic Plant Breeding (ECOPB), Organic Arable, Organic Seed Producers Ltd, the IFOAM EU Group and Task 37 (which provides information on Anaerobic Digestion systems). He has been a long standing supporter of the work of David Fleming and the concept of The Lean Economy.