Soil Association announces new chair of trustees

05 November 2013

The UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food and farming, the Soil Association, has elected Dennis Overton as the new chair of trustees. Dennis has taken over the role from Orna NiChionna who stepped down recently (17th October), after a six year term as chair. Based near Inverness, Dennis has served on the Soil Association council of trustees since 2006 and was elected as Vice Chair in 2012. 

With a strong background in organic production and international development, Dennis is well placed to lead the Soil Association through the next phase of implementation of its five year strategy and with the organic market showing strong signs of growth, it’s an exciting time.

Speaking about the new role, Dennis Overton said; “These are important times for the Soil Association. In a world that has put much of its faith in consumerism and which is facing a relentless drive for cheaper food at any cost, we are working to try and achieve a healthy balance between the needs of consumers, citizens, food producers and the environment.

“For me, the soil is where it all begins. My family’s involvement with crofting in the North Highlands has taught me this connection with the earth is incredibly important. It’s largely this that inspired me to join the Soil Association in the first place - along with the desire to work with farmers and growers to explore and develop the potential of organic methods to reinvigorate our soils.

“I believe everyone, especially the most vulnerable, should have access to local, seasonal, affordable and healthy food and that’s why I am delighted to be working with an organisation that shares this vision. I’m looking forward to leading the Soil Association, and working with our partners, in its inspiring work to make good food the norm in schools, hospitals and all places where people have little food choice.”

Dennis also paid tribute to outgoing chair Orna NiChionna; “Orna will be a very hard act to follow. She has led the Soil Association so brilliantly through a period of change and development, and the organic movement is indebted to her. Orna remains a trustee, and her ongoing support and wisdom will be invaluable.”

In addition to his new role, Dennis also chairs Aquascot, a Scottish sustainable seafood business leading the way in organic salmon, he is Chair of the Board of Ikirezi, a Rwandan community interest company which is now Africa’s largest producer of organic geranium oils, and is also a founding Board Member of Scotland Food and Drink, the private-public partnership now central to the future of Scottish farming, fishing and food processing. Dennis was recently named IOD 2013 Director of the Year for Leadership in Corporate Responsibility.

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