Contact us

You can call our helpline on 0117 314 5100 or email us at producer.support@soilassociation.org

Please note Producer Members always take priority when responding to questions. If you aren't a Producer Member - find out more about the benefits of joining.

If you require a derogation you should contact your Certification Officer. The contact number for producers is 0117 914 2412 and for processors 0117 914 2411.

Meet the team

The Producer Support Team is a close knit team with specialist knowledge of all UK agricultural sectors as well as in depth understanding of organic and agro ecological food production systems. The team works to improve organic practice, to share our knowledge of agro ecological production with all interested farmers and to increase the proportion of our food which is produced from organic and agro ecological systems.

A key part of our work at the moment is the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme; an innovative initiative to put farmers in the driving seat of research. This involves the team supporting up to 30 groups of farmers at any one time in running field labs on their farms and answering their questions. Within this programme we also run a Research Fund which uniquely has farmers and growers at its heart.

Tim Bevan BSc Agricultural Zoology: Farm Business Advisor

Tim has a long history of livestock farming and gained his love of farming from his father in the Black Mountains of Wales. Tim’s career includes 14 years as Farm Manager at the National Botanic Garden of Wales where under his stewardship the farm became the first site in Wales to become a working farm and a National Nature Reserve; and teaching at Agricultural Colleges both in England and Wales. His teaching background is broad including grassland, livestock, farm management and accounts.

Liz Bowles BSc Honours Animal Sciences: Head of Farming

Liz is Head of Farming and is responsible for leading and managing our work with farmers throughout the UK in conjunction with the Producer Support Team. Liz has a wealth of experience of agriculture and food both in the UK and internationally. She has worked in the sector for over 20 years and brings a practical approach combined with scientific and sector knowledge to her role. Past roles have been with English Food and Farming Partnerships and ADAS.

She is a Nuffield scholar. Her research involved exploring co-operation in the red meat sector and was a precursor to her joining EFFP where she worked on the development of supply chain collaboration in England. Liz can help individual members with agricultural technical, marketing, supply chain and networking queries.

Rachel Harries: Producer Skills Manager

Rachel is responsible for developing a Producer Skills Training programme, runs the Future Growers scheme and is the coordinator of the Community Supported Agriculture Network UK. She is also part of an EU partnership on access to land.

Rachel’s career has led her to work in a range of organisations on communications, environmental education, fundraising and community engagement. She has managed marketing for a farm-based business, facilitated volunteer groups to map local food networks, and is passionate about bringing producers and consumers closer.

Rachel can advise on many issues facing new entrants to farming including how and where to access training, land, finance and support. She is also a good source of advice on how farmers and growers engage communities and work with volunteers.

Colleen McCulloch: Agricultural Development Manager (Scotland)

Colleen runs the Scottish Farming Innovation Network, a programme which aims to involve farmers in developing and sharing innovative techniques and best practice for improving productivity, quality and environmental performance, and to showcase a practical approach to research and development for sustainable agriculture.

She has a background in agriculture, with particular interests in sheep and agroforestry. In addition to extensive experience of conventional systems and several years working on organic farms in Scotland she is also a trained ecologist, with research experience including sheep/deer interactions in Scotland and wild sheep ecology in Mongolia.

Her programme encourages practical methods to create an environment where famers have the opportunity to learn for themselves and from other farmers about particular production problems, and how to address these by observing and discussing new and innovative ways of doing things in the field. This involves running practical on-farm events and field labs, and establishing regional networks to exchange knowledge, best practice and innovation between farmers and the research community.

Sally Morgan MA, MSc, MSB, CBiol (Biological Sciences and Restoration Ecology): Editor, Organic Farming Magazine

Sally edits Organic Farming Magazine which we publish three times a year. The magazine is the UK's leading journal on organic farming and growing. She has worked here since 2012 and is also a licensee, owning an organic farm in South Somerset where she used to raise geese for the Christmas market. She has been a freelance writer and author for 20 years, writing on wide range of topics within the fields of agriculture, natural history and science.

Kate Pressland PhD Ecology: Research Manager

Kate joined us in 2013 to run the research elements of the Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme. She manages our Research Fund which awards grants to researchers and farmers who team up to investigate innovative and sustainable solutions to practical problems faced in agriculture. She is also involved in our Field Labs and assists the researchers and facilitators in ensuring farmers get real value from participating in our Programme. Previously, Kate has worked with ecologically-minded farmers across the south west in the conservation sector.

Ben Raskin Dip RHS: Head of Horticulture

Ben has been working in horticulture for 20 years and has been with us since 2006. Ben has a wide range of experience working with growers at all levels of production. His own experience includes; running a walled garden in Sussex supplying a Michelin starred restaurant, working for Garden Organic at their gardens in Kent. Ben also set up and ran the 10 acre horticultural production at Daylesford Organic Farm, before moving to the Welsh College of Horticulture as commercial manager. More recently he has acted as Horticultural Advisor and Board Member for the Community Farm near Bristol.

Ben can help individual members with horticultural technical, marketing, supply chain and networking queries. He is also involved with:

  • Running field labs, farm walks, and other training and mentoring
  • Facilitating formal and informal grower collaboration by sector or location
  • Other areas of specialist knowledge and experience include Community Supported Agriculture, starting up new horticultural businesses, Biochar.

Kate Still BSc Honours Agriculture: Livestock Specialist

Kate is an Animal Welfare Advisor on AssureWel, a collaborative programme between the Soil Association, RSPCA and Bristol University to embed welfare outcomes into the assurance process of certification schemes. Kate's career to date has included practical farming (predominantly dairy and sheep), farm business consultancy and providing advice to farmers on agri-environment schemes and habitat conservation on farmland (botanical specialism).

At the Soil Association her focus is on working with livestock farmers to improve production efficiency. This involves her with producers, inspectors/assessors, vets and the farm advisory sector to improve animal welfare. She has been instrumental in developing the Assurewel welfare outcome assessment and advice service for livestock producers. This service enables early intervention to prevent welfare problems and optimise enterprise performance.

Jessica Stokes PhD Animal Behaviour: Livestock Specialist

Jess is an Animal Welfare Advisor on AssureWel, a collaborative programme between the Soil Association, RSPCA and Bristol University to embed welfare outcomes into the assurance process of certification schemes. Jess is responsible for supporting continuous improvement in welfare outcomes for the major livestock species, through training of scheme assessors and facilitating knowledge transfer to producers. So far this has included laying hen, dairy cattle and pig welfare, and will include sheep, beef and broilers by June 2015.

Jess joined AssureWel in March 2012 after carrying out an Animal Behaviour Masters placement on the Bristol Welfare Assurance Programme, and a PhD and post doctorate as part of the Healthy Feet project, working with farmers to reduce dairy cattle lameness. Mobility monitoring has since been widely adopted by the dairy industry through the DairyCo Healthy Feet Programme. Jess advises livestock producers on all aspects of animal welfare and animal welfare assessment and the linkage with farm profit.

Astrid Toner, MA Hons (Food, Nutrition and Welfare Studies): Senior Producer Advisor

Astrid grew up on a family dairy and horticultural farm in the south of Ireland where her family have been producing, wholesaling and retailing produce since the early 1800’s. Most of her summer holidays were spent either working in the fields or wholesaling at Dublin markets which gave her first-hand experience of both the practical and commercial realities of farming and growing life.

Astrid joined the Soil Association in 2002 and is currently responsible for delivering a range of technical advice and support to members as well as managing and delivering our exciting calendar of agricultural events from farm walks and technical seminars to national conferences like our annual National Soil Symposium. Astrid also coordinates the Duchy Originals Future Farming field lab programme.