Our Board of Trustees includes people with a wealth of experience in a broad range of areas in community based farming, gardening and growing. They have responsibility for setting the charity’s strategic direction, establishing policy and representing the charity at a UK level. There is a maximum of eleven Trustees on our Board, and they come from a variety of backgrounds - from city farms, community allotments to rural settings, health care and commercial sectors.
Eight of the Trustees are elected by the voting members of Social Farms & Gardens, and three are appointed by the Board to fill any identified skills and experience gaps. This year we are looking to appoint a young person as a Trustee through our Youth Forum.
Meeting four to five times per year, our Trustees serve a maximum three-year term and one third must stand down each year. Trustees standing down can seek re-election for one further term of office.
Caroline Hutton, Co-chair
Before her career in community gardening, Caroline ran a small music distribution business for 20 years and also trained and worked both as a counsellor and as a gardener. Caroline was Director of Martineau Gardens www.martineau-gardens.org.uk in Birmingham for 17 years from 2001-2018, working to make the organisation a good place to be, as well as financially and environmentally sustainable. Martineau Gardens developed a Therapeutic Horticulture project for people with mental health issues or learning disabilities, actively welcoming visitors with an events programme and found lots of ways to increase sales. Eventually, they were able to re-establish environmental education to the site, with a specialist teacher to introduce classes of urban children to the natural environment. Caroline is using her retirement to visit community gardens, city farms and care farms in Birmingham to better understand what works and what causes difficulties. She is now Chair of the Board of Directors of Birmingham Food Council www.birminghamfoodcouncil.org Being retired, she is enjoying more time to go to films, working on her allotment and seeing what other people are up to.
Malachy Dolan, Co-chair
Malachy has been very involved in the promotion and delivery of care/social farming on the island of Ireland for the past 3 years. Malachy is a farmer who, with his wife Miriam, opens his farm to provide day opportunities to service users from the locality. He is a founding member and director of Social Farming Ireland Ltd (SFI) which is an all Island cross-border organisation with a mission and vision very similar to that of Care Farming UK. In this role with the members and fellow directors of SFI he has engaged with local and regional decision-makers to advance the role of agri-based interventions and supports for vulnerable adults with identified needs. Malachy’s past work experiences in industry and as a consultant have been around quality management and regulatory compliance. He worked for 10 years as technical and quality manager of a large cement company that operated two production plants situated either side of the border in Ireland and represented them on the British Cement Association committee liaising with government on the implementation of the Kyoto protocol in the UK. In the republic of Ireland, he carried out a similar function with the industry equivalent there. Malachy’s experiences combine with his passion for farming and its potential to complement social care. Malachy believes that uniformity of message and commonality of approach is a key component to developing the concept of care farming through the support services offered by all care/social farmers.
Mike is Head of Public Engagement at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) where his team focuses on funding opportunities and partnerships that encourage researchers to engage the public with their research. He has been at AHRC for seven years, joining as Head of Communications in 2016, where he led a team that covered covered media relations, social media and digital. Mike has spent 20+ years working in communications, including working for charities such as Sustrans, the Soil Association and the National Trust; with a specialism in media relations. He also spent two years running the constituency office of Prof Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, where he led on a campaign around encouraging young people to register to vote and building the Southampton Food Network. He has also been a trustee at Bath City Farm since 2015, spending 18 months as Chair of Trustees.
David became a trustee of FCFCG in 2003 and was chair of the board until March 2018, then following the creation of SF&G, co-chair during the transitional year. He is currently a member by appointment of the SF&G board. David’s involvement in the movement began when he was the manager of Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh, and where several of the staff expressed appreciation of the role of FCFCG and the support given to community groups and their valuable work with so many people. David had an allotment for many years, until retirement, and always enjoyed the sharing and social interaction on the sites as well as the pleasure in growing a variety of food crops. Most of David’s career has been in farm management and agricultural research, and mainly concerned with livestock. He has worked on several farms around Britain, and for several years he was based at Edinburgh University campus. Much of the work involved direct contact with farm animals - cattle, sheep and pigs, although in later years the work was largely project management, budgeting and managing staff.
Dr Michelle Howarth is a Senior Lecturer in Nursing at the University of Salford and Assistant Deputy for Post Graduate Research in the School of Health and Society. Michelle qualified as a registered general nurse in 1990 and worked in the fields of acute medicine and older people services. Michelle began her lectureship in 2002 and has supported the development of graduate, post-qualifying and post graduate programmes. Michelle has a specialist interest in social prescribing and the use of nature based, person centred approaches to promote health and wellbeing. Michelle leads the National Social Prescribing Network Special Interest Group for Nursing and is one of the core founders of the Salford Social Prescribing Hub and a member of the Social Prescribing Network. Michelle has worked within Greater Manchester to map social prescribing provision and has undertaken collaborative evaluations of socially prescribed interventions within the third sector. Michelle works with a range of organisations to raise awareness of social prescribing amongst nurses through research, curriculum development and placement opportunities.
John Le Corney
John was Heeley City Farm's Co-ordinator and Chief Executive from 1981 to retirement in 2018. Heeley City Farm is a City Farm and Care Farm, supporting a network of Community Gardens throughout Sheffield and the surrounding area, managing an Energy Centre, Community Café, Garden Centre and much more.
John was a founding member and Board member of SF&G, and is also a Trustee of S2 (Manor) Food Bank, Friends of Firth Park Community Allotments and Friends of Gleadless Valley Methodist Church Community Garden. John's involvement in local growing and community development projects has seen him work on City Farms overseas in several European and American cities. Now retired, he keeps busy as a Green Flag judge and a Green New Deal for South Yorkshire campaigner. Outside of campaigning he enjoys growing vegetables on his own allotment as well as spending time outdoors with his young grandsons.
With formative through to early adult years being spent on the family farm in a rural environment and subsequent years working at a national level on a range of IT projects/roles across a range of sectors including financial services, public sector and 3rd sector, she brings wide ranging skills/experiences/perspectives to the board.
Ellen has previous volunteering experience working directly with adult and ESOL learners within learning and employability and with youth groups, as well as committee experience through school/out of school clubs.
Ellen has a passion for mental health and wellbeing and green care, with a desire to see green spaces/nature based therapy more available to those who need it most. This was driven from seeing the benefits of the farm environment on her brother's progress following a stroke at an early age compared to experiences seen in no nature environments. She is looking forward to learning more about SF&G and supporting it's members.