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.
Sally Partridge, Chair of Trustees
Sally works as Farm Director at Greenmeadow Community Farm in Cwmbran, South Wales and has done since 2007. The farm is a fantastic community resource utilised as a social, recreational and educational hub. Her role encompasses oversight of all the activity delivery and day to day management of the site. Sally believes strongly in the benefits to all of accessing an outdoor environment – for growing, social interaction and learning. We have regular on site access via social services of adults with learning difficulties, we host school visits, we deliver formal and informal education and we are supported by a fantastic team of volunteers. Sally has previous committee experience with a local community association – this is indicative of her commitment to community empowerment. Sally's educational background includes a Diploma in Environmental Science and a degree in Animal Science. She has been a trustee since 2009 and was appointed Chair in 2022.
Caroline Hutton, Company Secretary
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.
Mike is a trustee at Kentish Town City Farm, and also a regular front of house volunteer. He believes that by combining forces with similar community-based garden/farm projects we can promote and grow the movement to the benefit of more people. Greater collaboration and knowledge sharing between individual organisations is key to growth and success.
Away from charity work, Mike is a chartered accountant with 30 years’ experience in financial services, spending the last 13 years working for small owner-occupied firms – where he has gained significant experience of the day to day running of organisations in this sector.
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.
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.
Mark has spent the last 20 years developing education resources and opportunities for young people as Director of Education at New Forest care Ltd. He has set up, led and managed a wide variety of projects including, residential care homes, schools and farms. He continues to focus on broadening the impact that the school farms have by making them more accessible to other provisions in the local community. To date opportunities have been given to mainstream nurseries, schools and colleges, scouts, and other community groups. As a founder of the Autism Community Research Network (ACORNS) in association with Southampton University, he supports the research which is directed by the practical needs of young people with autism in education. His priority has always been to provide young people with therapeutic and academic opportunities in outdoor learning spaces. Mark is passionate about growing produce and the care and rearing of livestock having kept horses, sheep, chickens, cows and pigs.
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.
Maria is a founder member of SF&G and has a long-term commitment to the movement.Her interests are community participation, Rare Breed Networking and empowerment through activities. Maria is involved in managing a play resource charity in Liverpool, and is currently the chair - so her skills include knowledge of managing, understanding of governance roles and responsibilities, and experience of managing from a national perspective. Maria’s role now covers managing staff, livestock, programme development and fundraising. She has a working knowledge of the European Federation of City Farms and 10 years’ experience of youth exchange work.
Gemma has worked in city farms and community gardens for over ten years and currently has the pleasure and challenge of managing Surrey Docks Farm in south east London. This is a 2 acre working farm and education charity right on the Thames path. She is particularly interested by the opportunity this provides to educate an urban audience about farming and food production. Gemma says: "The best thing about working here is the balance of a dynamic environment and the real community spirit and long-term value the place holds for such a range of people."
Prior to joining Surrey Docks, Gemma worked in a range of different charities that have all involved engaging people from a wide range of backgrounds to become involved in gardening, nature or farming projects – including working at another city farm, the London Wetland Centre and Southbank Centre’s Roof Garden. Gemma was delighted to join the SF&G Board this year and is looking forward to supporting the organisation strategically and learning more, as well as to a time when we can safely meet in person and she can get to know everyone!