2017 Tutor Bios
The Future Growers 2017 programme will offer six weekend field trips where our growers will hear from expert tutors. More on the tutors below.
Rob Alderson is an organic veg grower whose previous jobs include fruit & veg buyer at Unicorn Grocery and co-founder of Manchester Veg People, an organic catering wholesaler. More recent work has involved box scheme databases and horticultural benchmarking and costings.
Ped Asgarian having originally studied environmental sciences at university, Ped has now combined this with his experience to take on the role of Managing Director at The Community Farm. Ped is also a board member of Bristol Food Producers which aims to promote local food production and retail, and a core member of Transition Bath.
Faye Bolderson is an amateur organic grower who can be found on her allotment patch in her spare time. She has recently completed the RHS Practical Horticulture course and is thrilled to be a part of the new Future Growers programme. She’s particularly interested in improving soil health and crop rotation systems, as well as dipping her toes into the world of biodynamic growing. Faye also works in the Food for Life team, supporting schools to achieve awards and giving organic growing advice.
Hugh Collins and his wife Liz run Kensons farm. The vegetable crops are spread between two 5 acre fields, an acre of summer plots and seven 100m2 polytunnels. One of the most important crops is asparagus, which covers a further 3 acres. Soil Association certified since 2001, their main source of fertility is red clover and rye grass, which starts and finishes a rotation cycle.
Tim Deane and his wife, Jan, after 10 years in conventional farming, bought Northwood Farm in 1984, a derelict 30 acre holding where they grew field scale organic vegetables for the wholesale market. In 1991 they discovered financial security by starting a box scheme – not the very first, but the model for subsequent box schemes throughout the UK and Europe. A founder member and director of Somerset Organic Producers co-op, Tim was also an advisor in the DEFRA funded conversion advice service for aspiring organic farmers (OCIS). He has been a member of the Soil Association Horticultural Standards Committee, former co-ordinator of the Devon Organic Growers group, committee member of the Organic Growers Alliance and founding co-editor of The Organic Grower for which he continues to write.
Roger Hitchings has acted as an expert for the Organic Research Centre and others on a wide variety of topics relating to organic horticulture. He leads the introductory module on soil for the Future Growers programme.
Sonia Oliver runs the walled garden at Coleshill Organics and which has previously won best box scheme and best horticultural grower in the Soil Association Organic Awards. She loves being involved in the hands on side of growing and markets the fruit and veg through a weekly box scheme, a weekly farmer's market and the farm shop.
Ben Raskin has worked in horticulture for 20 years and has a wide range of practical experience. He provides growers at all levels of production with technical, marketing, policy, supply chain and networking support. He is Head of Horticulture and the Soil Association and is also involved with running field labs, and other training and mentoring.
Nathan Richards farms at Troed y Rhiw in West Wales. A keen salesman, his focus is on local food, serving the immediate community through a box scheme delivered within thirty miles of the farm, local producer’s markets, and retail outlets such as restaurants and green grocers.
Mark Stay completed a National Certificate of Horticulture at Otley College in Suffolk and afterwards worked in horticultural therapy. He then set up his own producer box scheme business in North Oxfordshire in 1998. He raised all his own plants on a 13 acre holding for protected cropping, market garden and field scale. He has a 120m2 glasshouse dedicated to propagation.
Iain Tolhurst owns and farms one of the longest running organic farms in the UK, Tolhurst Organic. He has mentored and inspired many farmers over the years and leads the introductory module on vegetable production in June and rotations and fertility building in October.
Mathew Wilson and his wife Carol run Oakwood Farm. They have over 93 acres, with around 40 acres given over to organic fruit including 12,000 apple trees. They also grow Ancient varieties of long-straw wheat, including those from the Iron Age, Roman period and Medieval times. The farm now sells nine varieties of flour for bread making and home baking.