Good luck, Helen
Phil Stocker - 28 January 2010
The Soil Association's loss is the National Trust's gain. Many of you may not yet have heard that, after five years as director of food and farming – and more recently as policy adviser at the Soil Association – Helen Browning is exploring pastures new in a full time post at the National Trust. Helen has had a far longer connection with the Soil Association, as an organic farmer, trustee and even chair of Council around a decade ago.
Helen has always been ‘on the edge’ in more ways than one. She farms on the edge of the Lambourn Downs in north Wiltshire, but she has always been on the edge in terms of her farming activities, too – pioneering high welfare pig farming, organic veal production from her dairy herd, and meat sales through the Eastbrook Organic brand.
She’s also been on the edge with her direct sales and involvement with her local community – farm shops, the Flying Pig mobile catering vans, her annual ‘Pig Fest’, and more recently taking over the Royal Oak public house in her local village.
And there’s more: while Helen is very at home in her wellies and muddy jeans, she also scrubs up well and looks at home in her business suit and smart shoes. And it was in this latter uniform that she brought a fresh perspective to Sir Don Curry’s Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, which framed the Governments farming related policies from 2002 onwards. She also chaired the Defra Animal Health and Welfare Implementation Group, was a member of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, and was on the Board of the Meat and Livestock Commission until it was wound up in 2005.
I could go on but this is already making me feel inadequate - and I wouldn’t want it to have the same effect on others! Although we at the Soil Association will miss her (she is a serious consumer of chocolate, most of our meetings involved a bar or two, and I will definitely miss that!) I also know that this won’t be the end of her involvement in the organic world, and that her energy and enthusiasm will mean that she is still there for us all.
So, Helen’s next challenge will be as director of external affairs for the National Trust. I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing her well in her new role, as well as her ongoing muddy boots activities.
27 August 2012 08:21
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