Garden Organic Trustees

Martin Stott – Chair

I have had over 35 years experience as a sustainable development practitioner, much of it at senior levels in the public and voluntary sectors; until late 2011 as Head of Environment and Resources at Warwickshire county council, where I was responsible for a portfolio of services including waste management, planning, sustainable transport and the council’s farms and smallholdings. I have a wide range of board level experience in the charitable and mutual sectors including as Chair of the William Morris Society, on the board of Modern Art Oxford and The Phone Co-op and have served as an elected member on a local authority and as a parent governor of a comprehensive school. I have been a life member of Garden Organic for many years and am a keen gardener, allotment plot holder and hen keeper. When at Warwickshire CC, I worked closely with Garden Organic on the Master Composter and Master Gardener programmes and trained as a master composter. I am working as a writer. My book ‘The Cowley Road Cookbook: culinary tales and recipes from Oxford’s most eclectic street’ came out in November (Signal Books). I am a graduate of the University of Oxford) (BA Geography) and the London School of Economics (MSc Urban Planning) and am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. I write widely on political and environmental issues including for the national press, have a column in the journal Town and Country Planning and edited the book ‘City fields, country gardens; allotments essays’. I blog on growing, gardening, composting, and food as Lord Muck. I live in Oxford and have two grown up daughters.


Margaret Eyre – Vice-Chair

I am a registered nurse with varied experience of in-patient and community based health care in both the public and charitable sectors. Whilst working for the charity Marie Curie Cancer Care (MCCC), as a manager and researcher, I was privileged to be able to see the positive impact that horticultural therapy, or simply having contact with a garden, can have on the quality of life of patients and their caregivers. My work with MCCC provided me with a range of experiences including human resources: understanding of employment law; charity governance: working with volunteers and some fundraising. More recently, I have focused on research in health care to gain my PhD in ethics, and now facilitate research in an NHS Trust as well as teaching research in a University. In the hospital I am currently involved in two research projects that are aiming to reduce hospital acquired infection. I would like to be able to use my skills to make a more pro-active contribution to the organic gardening community.


Steve Howell – Treasurer

I am a qualified Chartered Accountant with over 40 years of experience in the accountancy profession. I spent my career with one of the top 4 international accountancy firms, initially in an audit department and then specialising in tax consultancy. Over the years, I have dealt with many varied and interesting clients, from multinational groups to owner-managed businesses, and, as a result, have gained an insight into many aspects of financial matters. I live in Warwickshire and am married with 4 grown up children and 2 grandchildren. Now retired, I am able to spend more time in the garden, which we are steadily creating out of the chaos we inherited when we bought our current property just over 3 years ago.


Gail Coleshill

I was introduced to Garden Organic by my father, in the days of the Henry Doubleday Research Association. Ever since, we have always had Comfrey growing in the garden. Garden Organic has progressed from those early days to national and international recognition for its work in promoting organic growing, soil protection and improvement, seed species preservation and in education. I have experience in teaching horticulture and in campaigning as a Local Authority Councillor and a Parliamentary candidate. I believe that my own career would enable me to provide a knowledge and expertise to enhance that of the existing Trustees. Apart from working my own organic garden my career as a science teacher included Rural studies where I was able to pass on to my students that there were alternatives to chemicals in the garden. In addition I have spent many years as a Councillor campaigning on community and environmental matters. I am impressed by the way Garden Organic has worked with allotment associations, schools and communities to promote the growing of produce in a way which will help not harm the natural environment. I believe that my experience can benefit Garden Organic and help to further promote such important strategies.


Elaine Shaw

As a Chartered Marketer, the experience I bring is mainly on the marketing and fund-raising, event organisation and general management side. As Director of Tourism on the Isle of Wight when the role was not under the auspices of the local authority, I had to raise all the funds before having any budget to spend on marketing! As Chief Executive of three different National Governing Bodies of Sport (English Table Tennis, British Triathlon and British Modern Pentathlon) I was responsible for all aspects of the organisation from fund-raising and development to hosting British-based World and European Championships. I have trustee experience as a former Director of the Central Council of Physical Recreation and I am a former member of the National Olympic Committee. I live in the East Midlands and have gardened organically (albeit without knowing that was what I was doing in the early years!) since I was a child. I was one of the first batch of Master Composters in Leicestershire and am currently employed as Enterprise Director in a large independent mixed boarding school.


Judith Wayne

I am a committed amateur gardener (RHS general certificate in horticulture), cultivating an allotment and municipal chalet garden. As a student in the 1970s I joined Garden Organic, (HDRA), as a life member. During this time I have seen Garden Organic grow and be recognised nationally and internationally as an increasingly respected voice influencing the development of organic horticulture, sustainable growing, and the education of young people in healthy food. I have worked in housing for over 30 years and have seen a growing interest in the ways that residents can benefit from horticultural activities, whether gardening themselves or participating in social enterprise activities. My work as a Director with consultancy firm Altair includes supporting charitable housing boards to achieve the highest standards of governance, setting up community mutual organisations, working with residents to improve services, and developing strategies in response to government policies. My voluntary activities have included being an advisor to Welsh Government on public appointments and chairing the governors of a large multi-cultural comprehensive school. I have led Human Resources and organisational change teams. I was appointed as a trustee in 2012 and will be an enthusiastic member of Council with a proven capacity for teamwork and strategic thinking.


Philippa Lyons

I have been an active gardener and advocate for organics for over 38 years. I have been involved in charity management at a senior level for more than 25 years, and as Chief Executive of the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust for the last 9 years. In my current role I am actively involved in campaigning and advocacy on behalf of local and national biodiversity issues. My first degree was in Environmental Science and later I obtained an MBA from Queens University, Belfast, which has provided invaluable in running a medium sized charity where a good understanding of Finance, HR and Marketing are essential. I have extensive professional experience in fundraising, having worked for Oxfam as a Fundraising Manager and later Head of Appeals before joining my local Wildlife Trust as Head of Marketing in 1990. I am a Director of WREN, the largest Environmental Body for Landfill Community Fund, which distributes c. £16m grants each year. I have also been the instigator and now Board member of Wildlife Fundraising (Central) Ltd, which is jointly owned by 8 Wildlife Trusts to undertake membership recruitment on their behalf.


Dr Andrew Collins

One of my early memories as a child in London is of helping my grandfather to pick peas on his Southfields allotment. Twenty five years later, as a research scientist at Cambridge University Zoology Department, I used to cycle to and from my own allotment with spade and fork lashed to the crossbar. It was around that time that I visited Bocking, and came away with some comfrey plants whose progeny are still with me. From Cambridge I moved to a post in Aberdeen University and then to the Rowett Research Institute to work on human nutrition and disease – specifically the role of fruits and vegetables in protecting against cancer. Plant foods are well known to contain ‘micronutrients’ with antioxidant properties, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, and these are commonly thought to be responsible for their health-promoting properties. We demonstrated that these antioxidants do; indeed, decrease oxidative damage to DNA and other molecules in humans; but the micronutrients have many other effects on human metabolism that are likely to be more important. One of these effects that has particularly interested me is the ability to enhance the ability of cells to repair damaged DNA, probably contributing to the protection against cancer. (Whether ‘organic’ foods are more beneficial than conventionally grown foods is, I think, still an open question. It seems likely to me that plants grown under sub-optimal conditions, as in organic gardens, will contain interesting stress-related natural chemicals that both enhance their flavour and contribute to their beneficial effects. But this is just a hunch.) I have been continuing with this research for the past 11 years as Professor of Nutrition Biology in the University of Oslo. I am divorced, with three sons and three granddaughters. I live with my partner of 20 years, Maria, a green-fingered Slovak, in a house built on rock overlooking Oslofjord; we have scraped together enough earth to grow peas, beans, potatoes and squash in the long summer days, but have to contend with roe deer and brown Spanish slugs. I am now 50% retired, and spend more time back in Scotland, where – with help from family and friends – I am building a strawbale house just north of Aberdeen. I have always enjoyed the more experimental side of gardening, trying out ideas such as raised beds, seed saving, compost (including, in Norway, a composting toilet), grafting apple trees, and making fruit wines.


Naomi L’Estrange

Naomi is Director of 2020Trustees, an independent pension trustee company. After graduating in law from Clare College Cambridge (where she was also a Choral Scholar) she trained as pension lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills in London. Having advised the government on the provisions of the Pensions Act 2004, she became the inaugural Director of Legal and then Director of Strategy and Policy at the Pension Protection Fund, working closely with Government and the European Commission on their policy in relation to pensions. She is also an Executive Coach. Naomi was a keen gardener as a child, and came back to it when a friend started to plant his extra tomato plants in her garden! A move to Lincolnshire and an acre of garden followed - eight years' later more than half of this is organic veg and fruit and her polytunnel is brimming! She became a Master Gardener in 2013.


Adam Alexander

Adam has had a distinguished career as a producer of observational and narrative documentaries and is a skilled story-teller. He has produced television programmes about food, gardening and his long-form work has observed cultural life from Russia to Tibet, the Middle East, Africa and throughout Europe. With a Rudolph Steiner education Adam has been an organic grower from childhood. He ran a market garden in Devon in the late seventies but soon realized that growing for pleasure rather than as a living meant an easier life. His work as a film-maker has enabled him to travel the world and build a large library of rare, endangered, native and heirloom vegetables. Today, his work focuses on the conservation and preservation of the genetic diversity of edible crops, most specifically from regions of the world where conflict and the impact of changing farm practices is threatening the survival of local varieties. He is in demand as a speaker and gives lectures and talks, entertaining gardeners and food professionals about his work as a seed detective, his adventures in far-flung corners of the globe and the stories behind the seeds he has discovered. Adam has experience as a Trustee, having spent many years as on for the Charles Lord Denton Almshouses. He brings to Garden Organic a wealth of strategic expertise as a content creator and a proven track record in raising brand awareness and communications.


Kevin Wissett-Warner

Having been closely involved with land management in a number of spheres for 40+ years and a fanatically keen organic kitchen gardener for all of that time, too, I now have time to devote to an organisation I feel passionate about and of which I have been a life member for a number of years. Part of my professional life involved managing the fund raising and public activities of a leading wildlife management charity, including sitting on the board as a Director, and I feel that this, combined with my knowledge of wider land management issues and a desire to see a greater holistic approach to all agroecology, means I have a lot to offer to Garden Organic as a member of Council. The way we produce food and manage the earth is changing (it has to) and it is organisations such as Garden Organic that will be at the forefront of the drive to encourage more people to join, not only the organisation, but also as practitioners at whatever scale. To be a part of this over the coming years and closely involved with the management and staff to take this forward would be a great privilege.


Marjan Bartlett-Freriks

From an early age I have had a keen interest in the environment we live in, which has continued through my student years into adulthood. A few years ago I joined Garden Organic as this combines my passion for gardening with my interest in health and sustainability.

I am originally from The Netherlands and came to the UK in 1992 to do an MSc in Food Science at Reading University. I am happily married and we live in North Herefordshire with our cat Florence. We recently moved just south of Ludlow and I am now trying to come to grips with my new garden of just under 2 acres and with converting it to an organic garden.

I am a Food Scientist with organisational skills in both Project and Programme Management, which I believe could be of use to the charity as well as my analytical and scientific mindset. These skills I am sure could be deployed in areas such as governance, defining goals and objectives as well as in the evaluation of performance against agreed targets. This is in fact what I was employed to do latterly as Food Safety Programme Manager at Weetabix Ltd. Having been lucky enough to give up full time employment in early 2016 I am keen to play an active part in a charity I passionately support and to use my skills to bring a positive contribution to the charity.


Dr Tania Sayer

Garden Organic has an important role in promoting organic gardening for the health of people and soil sustainability. In this challenging time the organisation will have to seize all opportunities to participate in the development of environmental policy with other organistaions. I worked for a charity which specialises in energy efficiency and the alleviation of fuel poverty. This role required partnership (local councils and community groups) working skills and the development of funding bids. Since 2002 I have been a campaigner with Friends of the Earth (FOE) as local group co-ordinator, joining the Board in 2010. I served six years as a Trustee of FOE trust and as a Director of FOE Limited (the last three years as Chair). I chaired the Campaigns Committee. I am educated to tertiary level; BSc (2:1) Bioogical Sciences, PhD Animal Cell Biotechnology, BA (2:1) Environmental Studies. I think my experience in shaping and driving the strategic direction and policies of FOE in a difficult political and financial arena, in addition to my partnership and fundraising skills would make a valuable and significant contribution to Council. I live in Cheshire with my husband and two cats. We have two grown up daughters.