Four Trustees of the Soil Association’s seventeen Trustees resigned in November 2014 following the rejection by their fellow Trustees of a motion challenging our three year old strategy, which focusses as strongly as ever on organic food and farming, but also reaches out to broader audiences. We are sorry these trustees felt unable to support our initiatives to work with non-organic as well as organic farmers, schools, hospitals and food businesses. We think that the challenges facing our food systems today are so urgent that we need to work with all who are interested in finding solutions that are in line with our founding principles. We remain passionately committed to organic and growing the market for organic food – we believe organic is the gold standard of our vision for good food. The Soil Association was founded to campaign for healthy food, not just organic certification, and we are determined that our work should be relevant to everyone, and we aim to influence the whole food system. The overwhelming majority of our elected trustees strongly support this work, and our work to transform food in schools and hospitals.
Our Trustees are:
After a successful career in food and drink marketing, Annabel devoted a lot of time to local campaigns to raise the standard of school meals. Two years ago she was approached by Twin Trading, the Fairtrade company behind Cafedirect coffee and Divine chocolate to join their New Sector Development group, which adds value to Fairtrade products through innovation and professional marketing. Her knowledge of how both the big food and drink companies and the big supermarket groups operate, and especially of the tactics they use to try to influence consumers, has been key to this role.
Matt is a brand consultant who started his career working with Nike on global sustainable innovations, before moving away from large corporations to help bring both conventional and sustainable small businesses to market. In 2013 he started his own brand agency to build inspiring brands and change behaviours. He hopes to use is experience of working with both non-organic and established organic businesses to represent small business realities. At 28 he is the Soil Association’s youngest trustee and he intends to help connect the Soil Association to a younger ‘digital native’ voice by telling the right story.
Neil Canetty-Clarke (Hon. Treasurer)
Neil is the co-founder of www.schoolstrader.com the free community trading website. He is a graduate of Edinburgh University and has worked in financial roles for Morgan Grenfell, LWT, Guardian Media Group, iTouch, Granada and ITV. In 2006, he attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. In 2013 he co-founded Sanditon Asset Management as Finance Director. Neil is married with three children and lives on a small farm in East Sussex. He and his wife have been producer members of the Soil Association since 1999 - their arable/grass farm became fully organic in 2000.
John is an organic farmer farming beef, sheep and cereals in partnership with his son Jonathan. He has served as Chairman of the National Beef Association in Northern Ireland for six years and has been on the UK board for five years, working with all the regions across England, Scotland and Wales and dealing with the Department for Environment Food & Rural affairs in Northern Ireland and Defra in London at ministerial level. He is the present Chairman of Organic Northern Ireland. John has been a member of the Soil Association since converting to organic and wants to offer his experience and contacts to assist the organisation to achieve its goals. He is the devolved nations' member of Council for Northern Ireland.
Oliver Dowding has farmed in SE Somerset since 1976 and began the challenge of converting to organic status in 1989. The principal enterprise then was a 300 cow dairy herd. The herd was sold in 2004 and he now farms arable crops, with the rotation’s grassland phase being farmed by two local organic dairy farmers. Since 1984, he has chaired the NFU organic committee, been vice-chairman of OMSCO, was on Defra’s Advisory Committee on Organic Standards for 5 years and the HGCA R&D committee for 7 years. He has been a Soil Association Farmer and Grower Board member for 15 years.
Dr David Main
David is a veterinary surgeon and Reader in Animal Welfare at the University of Bristol Veterinary School. He is a member of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (formerly Council). He has research interests in welfare assessment, intervention strategies to improve welfare and animal welfare education. David has had a longrunning interest in organic livestock that started with an undergraduate project that evaluated a herbal wormer. He has a long-standing relationship with the Soil Association including a period on the standards committee (1997-99), supervising a veterinary resident working with Soil Associaton Certification (2005-08), and now as project co-ordinator of a joint project, AssureWel. This project, which is also a collaboration with RSPCA, aims to embed welfare outcomes into the assurance process. He believes that the veterinary profession should advocate organic principles to all their clients and has endeavoured to increase organic-related teaching in the veterinary course at Bristol. David also has a wider interest in food sustainability issues and is a member of the Food Ethics Council.
Graeme is a tenant farmer on about 600 acres, farming beef, sheep, poultry and a small amount of arable in Leicestershire. All produce is sold through their farm shop with its own butchery, bakery and tea room. Being a producer and retailer means he has an understanding of the issues in both sectors and is fully aware of both the difficulties and opportunities in both farming to the standards and engaging with consumers. He has been involved in organic farming for 20 years and has also been part of regional FWAG and NFU committees. He is passionate about ensuring that farmers and growers remain at the heart of the organic movement and believes that they have a crucial role to play in a more sustainable future.
Orna joined the Soil Association in 1990, and became more involved when she bought a small organic farm in 2001. Having had a 20 year career in business consulting, she started advising Council members on how to deal more effectively with the business community, and was co-opted to Council in 2002. In 2004, she became vice chair; she also served as chair of Soil Association Certification Limited in 2005 and 2006. She is a non-executive director of a number of public and private companies and was the chair of the Council 2007-2013.
Dennis Overton (Chair)
Dennis is the devolved nations' member for Scotland. He has responsibility for the family croft in the north Highlands, and is currently building a partnership with 200 small farmers in Rwanda, developing a European market for organic geranium oil. In the late 1990s, Dennis helped pioneer organic salmon farming, and since the early 1990s has been managing director of Aquascot, a Ross-shire sustainable seafood business. Dennis is also involved in working to improve the Highlands' poorest performing secondary school which includes growing organic food with the pupils, and in the development of Scotland Food and Drink, the private-public partnership. Dennis is the current chair of the Council.
Clare Owens is a passionate advocate of food as an agent of social inclusion and change, who co-founded and directs socially engaged creative food enterprise Squash Nutrition in Liverpool. Clare is also a founder member of the Liverpool Food Alliance and works on the Sustainable Food Cities programme for Liverpool and leads on the annual Food for Real Film Festival, the UK’s film festival focussed on urban food. She is committed to positive environmental action within her local community and is excited to offer her experience of urban food enterprise and community participation practices to help the Soil Association and its members.
Dr Gabriel Scally
Gabriel has been a long-time supporter of the Soil Association, helping where he can to support its work in the world of public health. He acted as a referee for the Food for Life Partnership lottery bid and has worked closely with the Food for Life team over the last five years to support the success of this great programme in schools and communities. He is a public health physician working in the NHS and has been Regional Director of Public Health for the South West of England since the 1990s.
Charles worked in the agricultural merchanting trade for a number of years, ending up with his own company. This progressed into a major transport, distribution and warehousing business based in the West Country. He has always farmed livestock in addition to his commercial activities and for the past eight years has been a full time working farmer. Since 2003 Charles has been a member of the Soil Association Producer Board, seeking to represent the interests of upland livestock producers. He took over as Chair of the Producer Board in 2004 and has been a member of the Soil Association Standards Board since 2005. Charles is the devolved nations' member for Wales.
Nigel has run a trout farm in Cumbria for the past 25 years, which was amongst the first to become organic. He has been instrumental in developing organic standards for fish and is chair of the aquaculture standards committee. Nigel has a background in teaching, some of it in the developing world.
The current Management Committee:
Neil Canetty-Clarke - Hon. Treasurer
Orna NiChionna - Elected by Council
Dennis Overton - Chair
Gabriel Scally - Elected by Council
Charles Weston - Council member on the SA Certification Board