Who are we?
Meet the people helping to build a network of community supported agriculture in the UK.
Coordinator – Page Dykstra
I have worked for the Biodynamic Association Certification, inspecting organic and biodynamic farms across the UK as well as as the Eastern England Coordinator for the Gaia Foundation’s Seed Sovereignty project, engaging growers in the region in open pollinated seed production. I was an apprentice at Stroud Community Agriculture from 2014–2016. While at SCA I served on the Core Group. I’ve also been a member of a couple CSAs in the past (in the UK and USA), so I’ve experienced different CSA models from the ‘customer/member’ side as well.
Development Manager – Suzy Russell
I have worked in environmental and arts-based community development for over 20 years and have skills and experience in relationship building, strategic management, leadership and income generation. I started out organising an environmental arts festival and running a community environmental centre in the North East before living in Spain for six years where I worked with a community street theatre group and set up an environmental community development project. More recently I’ve been CEO at participatory arts organisation in West Yorkshire, building skills and knowledge in health and training and alongside this learning to teach mindfulness. I’ve always had a patch to grow on, albeit with a wide range of growing conditions. I’m passionate about local food, wellbeing, creativity, nature, community and the magic of everyday life.
Meet our board
Ben Raskin – Chair
Ben has worked in horticulture for more than 20 years and has a wide range of practical commercial growing experience. For the Soil Association, he provides growers at all levels of production with technical, marketing, policy, supply chain and networking support. He also leads on their Agroforestry work. Ben is an author of gardening books for children and grownups. He is also currently implementing a 200-acre agroforestry planting in Wiltshire. Ben also co-chairs the newly formed Defra Edibles Horticulture Roundtable and sits on the boards of the Organic Growers Alliance.
Gareth Davies – Treasurer
I am a passionate advocate of local food production and helped to set up Canalside Community Food CSA. Apart from being a member of the steering committee I helped establish an orchard and do the book keeping, finances and business planning. Recently I helped to set up Five Acre Community Farm on land rented from Garden Organic. I have also worked as a researcher with Garden Organic/HDRA looking at weeds, pest and diseases and varieties among other topics.
Dr Rich Gorman is a research fellow at the University of Exeter’s department of geography. Rich’s previous research has explored different aspects of Community Supported Agriculture. Particularly, the role of livestock with CSA systems, the connections between CSAs and Care Farms, and the health and wellbeing benefits of participating in a CSA scheme. Rich is always keen to discuss CSA, and the role that research can play in supporting the further development of the CSA movement.
I spend a lot of time on my hands and knees growing and harvesting vegetables, as well as cooking and eating them! I’m a founder member of Camel CSA in Cornwall, set up on two acres of rented land near Wadebridge in 2008. So I’ve plenty of hands-on experience running a community veg box scheme and working with volunteers. I also kept and bred poultry for many years. My specific skills are in media and digital communications, arising from my career as journalist, renewable energy publicist, media trainer anduniversity lecturer. Follow Camel CSA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Charlotte Steel – Secretary
Charlotte is working on setting up and managing in-house growing operations for Lush Cosmetics that will aim to grow raw ingredients for the supply chain, become a demonstration site for agroecological best practice and engage the business and broader community in land-based learning. She also coordinates Lush’s Permaculture and Agroecology Fund which supports demonstration sites, capacity building and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Lush she managed a community farm growing organically produced veg for box scheme customers in south London, reconnecting people with food growing and the outdoors.
Dr Jasmine Black
Jasmine works with farmers, growers, researchers and policy makers to create more sustainable ways of producing food and enhancing above and below ground biodiversity. She is currently undertaking this work at the Countryside and Community Research Institute, and was previously on the Innovative Farmers Programme (Soil Association). She has a PhD in bulk and molecular soil organic carbon dynamics across rainforest-savannah boundaries in the Amazon, Guyana. She has also lived in Japan working on an organic farming social project for the largest organic cotton company in the country, as well as with natural agriculture cooperatives and farms throughout Japan and in Japanese gardening. Jasmine is interested in how different cultures use and understand soil across the world. She is passionate about spreading the importance of soil health through theatrical storytelling, interactive workshops, writing and illustration.
With a background including permaculture, landscaping and sustainability business management, Matt brings a varied skillset to the board. For his Environmental Policy MSc thesis Matt researched how collective action amongst farmers can deliver environmental benefits.