Progressive Farming Trust

The Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm is the trading name of the Progressive Farming Trust Ltd, a registered company no. 1513190 limited by guarantee and a registered charity no. 281276.

The PFT’s Memorandum and Articles of Association from 1980 define the objectives of the company, the charitable aims and the activities that may be undertaken by us, and are available on request.

The annual reports and accounts can be accessed here.

The future plans for the Charity are set out in the Corporate Plan 2012 – 2016, which can be sent on request.

Membership and Council of Management

The PFT MoA provides for a limited number of members of the company that can elect the Council of Management. Members of the Council of Management act as both Company Directors and Charity Trustees and meet quarterly to set strategy, review progress and ensure compliance with company, charity and other legislation. New Trustees may be co-opted or elected from time-to-time – see the Working with us page for further details.

The current Council of Management consists of:

Mike Turnbull (Chair)

Mike Turnbull joined the PFT Council of Management as Chair in May 2012, succeeding Christopher Bielenberg (see below). He spent his working life in the public and not-for-profit sectors. Working initially in the Department of the Environment (on transport policy, housing, urban regeneration and international environmental protection), he then held two Director posts at the Housing Corporation, was Executive Director of the National Association of Head Teachers, and subsequently held several freelance management roles in public agencies before retiring in 2010. From 2012-2014 Mike was also Chairman of the International Tree Foundation (ITF), a charity that has promoted and funded sustainable community forestry projects in the UK and overseas, particularly in Africa, for 90 years and has been responsible for the establishment of hundreds of millions of trees. Prior to this, he was for 8 years the Chairman of Tree Aid, which works with vulnerable communities in Africa’s drylands to alleviate poverty and help cope with the impacts of environmental change, through community forestry and income generation projects. He has also been Vice Chair of a mental health charity, Sussex Oakleaf (2005-10).

Vikas Agrawal (Treasurer)

Vikas Agrawal is a graduate of Cambridge University, a chartered accountant and an experienced valuations and corporate finance practitioner with extensive experience of strategic planning and of leading large-scale business and technology transformations. He has lived and worked across the world, having been a consultant with Andersen Business Consulting, McKinsey & Company and Navigant. He has worked at Siemens, as Director of Strategy and Innovation at Siemens Business Services and subsequently as Global Engagement Director at Nokia Siemens Networks. Vikas has had a passion for green issues from an early age, winning the Daily Telegraph’s National Schools Essay Writing Completion on “The Green Economy”. Subsequently, as a management consultant and line manager, Vikas supported initiatives to develop new approaches to energy generation and resource conservation. He is a Trustee of the Dean Organic Trust, which supports young organic growers and organic business start-ups/expansions.

Alice Astor

Alice Astor is an organic farmer who has devoted much of her life to bringing up her four children on her organic farm and, as a trustee, supporting the two democratic schools, Sands School , Ashburton and Park School ,Dartington, that her children attended. These two democratic schools were started in Devon after the closure of Dartington Hall School, which she had attended. She is trustee/co-founder of the Phoenix Education Trust, which was founded in 2000 in order to support and promote democratic education in as many schools as possible, and she is also a trustee of the Virginia House Settlement, Plymouth, the Sharpham Charitable Trust; and the Meadowbrook Trust. As the daughter of David Astor, Alice was originally involved in farming on his organic farm in Dorset. The farm was sold in 1981 and the farming enterprise moved to Elm Farm, Newbury starting what has become The Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm.

Tim Bennett

Tim farms with his wife Susan in Carmarthenshire, West Wales. The farm is mainly organic and grassland-based with some woodland. Tim is Chairman of CIEL the agri-tech centre for Livestock innovations and also of the Farmers Club in London. Tim is a former Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, former President of the NFU and of DairyCo (now AHDB Dairy). He has held many other roles in the Industry including governor of the Institute of Ggrassland and Environmental Research and is a member of the Welsh Land tribunal. He is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society and of the Institute of Grocery Distribution.

Adrian Blackshaw

Adrian is Chairman of the Organic Trade Board (OTB). He is also a partner in a commercial organic apple and walnut business. He was previously Chairman of Herefordshire Food Partnership and Herefordshire Tourism Company. He has had Board involvement with Herefordshire-based organisations, including executive responsibility in Herefordshire for economic regeneration, and is a past Business Ambassador for the new emerging Hereford University. Adrian has had a varied business background in a number of industry sectors, including medical product development, electronic publishing and as an investment banker. He gained considerable City experience with the Financial Times and as a Director of two quoted companies. He was vice-Chairman of West Mercia/ Warwickshire joint Police Audit Committee, majoring on Treasury & Risk Management, scrutinising operational, financial and reputational risk.

Donald Peck

Donald is a retired emerging markets economist, who spent much of his career in South Asia and South America as a business adviser and investor. He worked for the World Bank Group in Washington DC, and then for CDC, the South Asia and Africa investment arm of DFID; later spending 12 years in India investing in businesses large and small. In 2005 he helped found Lok Capital, an initiative in India investing in social enterprise with funds under management totaling over £100m. He advises Paul Hamlyn Foundation on their India grants programme and other investors on social enterprise and impact investment in emerging markets. Since 1994 he has been a trustee and, since 2010, Chair of the UK Foundation Rachel & Pamela Schiele (FRPS), which runs a significant organic farming business in Argentina. He is also a treasurer (since 2009) of the Institute for Public Policy Research, and a trustee of St John’s Smith Square and ThinkAhead and a member of the board of an Indian infrastructure finance company, IDFC Ltd.

Andrea Stewart

Andrea has 18 years experience working in advocacy, communications and marketing. At Berry Bros. & Rudd, Andrea promoted pioneering biodynamic and organic European wine producers. In India, Andrea worked on sustainable development and advocacy programmes in rural communities. Andrea worked with NGO’s including CARE and Oxfam on an innovative collaboration to improve disaster coordination, risk reduction and accountability practices. Andrea is currently Head of Advocacy & Communications for a large network at the Centre for Tropical Medicine & Global Health at Oxford University. Andrea studied International Relations, Politics and Economics and completed postgraduate studies with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Andrea is a keen champion of organic principles and practice, and is delighted to support ORC’s communications and advocacy initiatives.

Margaret Wagner

Margaret has worked in marketing for more than 20 years. Her focus is on brand building and driving new revenue streams for large, multi-nationals, including. Samsung, Citibank and Jaguar Land Rover. Originally from Connecticut, she worked in the marketing field for 15 years before creating her own start up in the retail sector. Margaret moved to London 7 years ago to focus on corporate development, building up a European service offering for a large US-based marketing agency. She has a passion for Corporate Responsibility and has led programmes in sustainability, women in leadership and corporate recycling. She is a strong advocate of organic and local farming and is passionate about taking both her marketing and business skills to this community to drive more sustainable and profitable commercial relationships.

Christine Watson

Christine is Professor of Agricultural Systems at SRUC and a Guest Researcher at the Department of Crop Production Ecology at SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences). Christine leads a team of soil scientists working across the biology, physics and chemistry of soils. Her own research focuses on the management of micro and macro nutrients in organic and conventional agricultural systems. From 2003-2010 she served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Organic Standards (ACOS) and also chaired their R&D; Subcommittee. Christine is a member of the Scottish Organic Forum and helped develop Organic Ambitions (Scottish Organic Action Plan 2016). She is involved in managing and teaching the SRUC MSc in Organic Farming which is now delivered in partnership with ORC. Christine was President of the European Society for Agronomy (2014-2016), and is currently President of the Association of Applied Biologists and an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies.

Ned Westaway

Ned is a specialist barrister who practices at Francis Taylor Building in London. He is rated as a leading junior by Chambers & Partners in three areas: planning, environment and agricultural & rural affairs. He is on the