Council

Our Trustees are:

Annabel Allott

After a successful career in food and drink marketing, Annabel devoted a lot of time to local campaigns to raise the standard of school meals. Two years ago she was approached by Twin Trading, the Fairtrade company behind Cafedirect coffee and Divine chocolate to join their New Sector Development group, which adds value to Fairtrade products through innovation and professional marketing. Her knowledge of how both the big food and drink companies and the big supermarket groups operate, and especially of the tactics they use to try to influence consumers, has been key to this role.

Joanna Blythman      

Joanna is a journalist specialising in food issues. She writes for a wide range of newspapers and magazines and broadcast frequently on the pressing food debates of the day. She has written six landmark books, including The Food We Eat, Shopped and What to Eat. Since she began writing about food in 1988, she has been an unabashed advocate of organic food and farming.

Lynda Brown

Lynda Brown is a food writer and experienced broadcaster, specialising in organic food and farming and kitchen gardening. She has devoted much of her professional life to supporting and campaigning for the organic movement. Her eight major books include the first comprehensive guide to organic food and farming, The Shopper’s Guide to Organic Food, and Organic Living. She writes for Living Earth, blogs for the Soil Association, and has been closely involved in the Organic Food Awards for many years.

Neil Canetty-Clarke (Hon. Treasurer)

Neil is the co-founder of www.schoolstrader.com the free community trading website. He is a graduate of Edinburgh University and has worked in financial roles for Morgan Grenfell, LWT, Guardian Media Group, iTouch, Granada and ITV. In 2006, he attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. In 2013 he co-founded Sanditon Asset Management as Finance Director. Neil is married with three children and lives on a small farm in East Sussex. He and his wife have been producer members of the Soil Association since 1999 - their arable/grass farm became fully organic in 2000.

Oliver Dowding

Oliver Dowding has farmed in SE Somerset since 1976 and began the challenge of converting to organic status in 1989. The principal enterprise then was a 300 cow dairy herd. The herd was sold in 2004 and he now farms arable crops, with the rotation’s grassland phase being farmed by two local organic dairy farmers. Since 1984, he has chaired the NFU organic committee, been vice-chairman of OMSCO, was on Defra’s Advisory Committee on Organic Standards for 5 years and the HGCA R&D committee for 7 years. He has been a Soil Association Farmer and Grower Board member for 15 years.

Renée Elliott

Renée founded Planet Organic, which is the UK's largest independent organic retailer and now has three stores in central London. She has worked in the organic industry since 1991 and has served on council since 1999. She has also served on the standards board and currently sits on the multiple retailers working group. Renée sits on the Government's Organic Action Plan committee and is an advisor on organic issues to a major US fund.

Dr David Main

David is a veterinary surgeon and Reader in Animal Welfare at the University of Bristol Veterinary School. He is a member of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (formerly Council). He has research interests in welfare assessment, intervention strategies to improve welfare and animal welfare education. David has had a longrunning interest in organic livestock that started with an undergraduate project that evaluated a herbal wormer. He has a long-standing relationship with the Soil Association including a period on the standards committee (1997-99), supervising a veterinary resident working with Soil Associaton Certification (2005-08), and now as project co-ordinator of a joint project, AssureWel. This project, which is also a collaboration with RSPCA, aims to embed welfare outcomes into the assurance process. He believes that the veterinary profession should advocate organic principles to all their clients and has endeavoured to increase organic-related teaching in the veterinary course at Bristol. David also has a wider interest in food sustainability issues and is a member of the Food Ethics Council.

Graeme Matravers

Graeme is a tenant farmer on about 600 acres, farming beef, sheep, poultry and a small amount of arable in Leicestershire. All produce is sold through their farm shop with its own butchery, bakery and tea room. Being a producer and retailer means he has an understanding of the issues in both sectors and is fully aware of both the difficulties and opportunities in both farming to the standards and engaging with consumers. He has been involved in organic farming for 20 years and has also been part of regional FWAG and NFU committees. He is passionate about ensuring that farmers and growers remain at the heart of the organic movement and believes that they have a crucial role to play in a more sustainable future.

John McCormick

John has been a self-employed organic market gardener since 1991, running a box scheme for the greater Belfast area. Previously, John worked as a farm manager at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and as a gardener with the Camphill Communities of Ireland. He is the director and current chairman of the Organic Centre in Leitrim, Republic of Ireland and grower representative on the Northern Ireland Organic Action Plan Group. John is the devolved nations' member for Northern Ireland.

Orna NiChionna

Orna joined the Soil Association in 1990, and became more involved when she bought a small organic farm in 2001. Having had a 20 year career in business consulting, she started advising Council members on how to deal more effectively with the business community, and was co-opted to Council in 2002. In 2004, she became vice chair; she also served as chair of Soil Association Certification Limited in 2005 and 2006. She is a non-executive director of a number of public and private companies and was the chair of the Council 2007-2013.

Dennis Overton (Chair)

Dennis is the devolved nations' member for Scotland. He has responsibility for the family croft in the north Highlands, and is currently building a partnership with 200 small farmers in Rwanda, developing a European market for organic geranium oil. In the late 1990s, Dennis helped pioneer organic salmon farming, and since the early 1990s has been managing director of Aquascot, a Ross-shire sustainable seafood business. Dennis is also involved in working to improve the Highlands' poorest performing secondary school which includes growing organic food with the pupils, and in the development of Scotland Food and Drink, the private-public partnership. Dennis is the current chair of the Council.

Dr Gabriel Scally

Gabriel has been a long-time supporter of the Soil Association, helping where he can to support its work in the world of public health. He acted as a referee for the Food for Life Partnership lottery bid and has worked closely with the Food for Life team over the last five years to support the success of this great programme in schools and communities. He is a public health physician working in the NHS and has been Regional Director of Public Health for the South West of England since the 1990s. 

Pat Thomas        

Pat is a former editor of The Ecologist, and has a long relationship with the organic movement. She wrote the Soil Association book Stuffed: Positive Action to Prevent a Global Food Crisis and contributed to the Stuffed website. She also hosted some of the London premiers for the Soil Association-backed film Food Inc. She is a passionate believer in the role organic food plays in health and was on the panel of the Rethinking Diets workshop at our 2012 conference. She has previously headed up CIWF’s award-winning campaign against the Nocton mega-dairy and has worked on sustainability projects with Neal’s Yard Remedies.

Charles Weston

Charles worked in the agricultural merchanting trade for a number of years, ending up with his own company. This progressed into a major transport, distribution and warehousing business based in the West Country. He has always farmed livestock in addition to his commercial activities and for the past eight years has been a full time working farmer. Since 2003 Charles has been a member of the Soil Association Producer Board, seeking to represent the interests of upland livestock producers. He took over as Chair of the Producer Board in 2004 and has been a member of the Soil Association Standards Board since 2005. Charles is the devolved nations' member for Wales.

Andrew Whitley (Vice-Chair)                            

Andrew joined the Soil Association in 1973 and three years later founded The Village Bakery Melmerby, which became one of the country’s leading organic bakeries. He left The Village Bakery in 2002, did a Masters in Food Policy and wrote Bread Matters, described by one reviewer as ‘a searing critique of commercial baking methods’. In 2008, he co-founded the Real Bread Campaign, which aims to bring good bread to every neighbourhood in the land. In 2011, he received the Special Judges Award at the BBC Food & Farming Awards for ‘changing the way we think about bread’. From 2003-09, he chaired the Soil Association Processing Standards Committee and sat on the Standards Board and  Certification Scrutiny Committee. Now based near Edinburgh, he is developing a small agro-forestry project on five organic acres producing food, fuel and a  diverse landscape.

Nigel Woodhouse

Nigel has run a trout farm in Cumbria for the past 25 years, which was amongst the first to become organic. He has been instrumental in developing organic standards for fish and is chair of the aquaculture standards committee. Nigel has a background in teaching, some of it in the developing world.

The current Management Committee:

Neil Canetty-Clarke - Hon. Treasurer
Linda Campbell - Chair of SA Certification
Orna NiChionna - Co-opted Council Member
Dennis Overton - Chair
Gabriel Scally - Elected by Council
Charles Weston - Elected by Council
Andrew Whitley - Vice-Chair