Monmouthshire County Council
Having moved to Wales, I joined the team at Monmouthshire County Council where, among other things, I have just updated the County Tree Policy and am working on the Green Infrastructure Strategy. I am also working with Community groups and seeking external funding for parks, gardens and other environmental projects.
Green Transport Corridors Project
I began work on this project in January 2015 whilst I continued to pursue the development of Rooted in Hull and other interests.
The Green Transport Corridors Project is an exciting development that has the potential to make a significant contribution to ecological connectivity and resilience through influencing the management of the transport infrastructure soft estate in England, around 80 000 hectares of land. More information here
Rooted in Hull
In 2013, I was invited to work with the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG) and Hull City Council to develop a concept for an innovative City Farm to be located in the heart of Hull. Working with Adrian Fisher, I completed a feasibility study to consider how this could be achieved. Adrian and I felt that the concept we created was too good not to do, so we set up Rooted in Hull, a not for profit company to develop this project from concept to reality. More on this here
Biofuels Development Project
I was employed by the RSPB to assess the viability of creating a biofuel product from waste biomass produced through nature conservation management in the Humberhead Levels. My work involved engaging with the regional partnership to assess volume, type and location of conservation biomass and potential markets for it. For example, biomass briquettes made from reed cut as part of the management cycle ot reedbeds at RSPB Blacktoft Sands. The post was funded through the Humberhead Levels Nature Improvement Area (NIA)
The project completed in January 2015 and my full project report can be seen here
Wyre Community Land Trust
In 2008, a chance meeting led me to the Wyre Community Land Trust, a Social Enterprise, community supported farm and landscape restoration project in the heart of the Wyre Forest. The Trust was a partner in the Grow with Wyre Landscape Partnership Scheme and needed to build capacity to deliver orchard and meadow restoration projects. Taking on the role as Farm Manager, working closely with John Iles, Managing Director, I developed the farm from a holding of around 30 acres of meadows and traditional orchards with six cows to a complex multi-site conservation grazing scheme.
Key statistics on leaving:
- over 70 fields
- in excess of 400 acres
- Land in 22 locations
- 15 different land owners
- 50 head, pedigree herd of Dexter cattle.
To enable this to happen, I worked closely with our vets, AHVLA, Natural England, Forestry Commission, local authorities, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust as well as many landowners. I put together and managed several Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Schemes including several group applications and set up and managed a volunteer programme for both the farm and for Natural England. Through various funding mechanisms I ran training courses and employed trainees and apprentices which all helped to deliver project outcomes.
The Trust acted as an intermediary between Natural England and many small landowners, giving advice and carrying out management of traditional orchards and species rich grassland designated as SSSI for which my skills and experience of grazing livestock for nature conservation and my knowledge of veteran trees gained earlier in my career was invaluable.
I still try and get over to the farm at least once a year to do a bit of pruning to keep my hand in and soak up the forest environment.
Burnham Beeches NNR
In 2000, I was employed at Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve, owned and managed by the City of London but located in South Buckinghamshire just a few miles from Slough. I worked at the Beeches for eight years managing the conservation grazing scheme set up to help restore the heath and wood pasture that comprises the ancient common, and to support the management work on the veteran beech pollards. While at the Beeches I also completed an Masters degree in Protected Area Management at Birkbeck University.
Staunton Country Park
From 1996 to 2000 I worked as a Ranger for Hampshire County Council Countryside Service, one of the leading county ranger services in the country. I spent four years with the county at Staunton Country Park in East Hampshire, a 2000 acre site with landscaped gardens, lake, farm and historic buildings.
Staunton Country Park played an important role in my formative years in conservation and I have fond memories of the place. It is a super country park and if we have time, I try to fit in a visit there with my children when visiting family in the area.
A great way to get to know people and the area when you relocate is to get involved in the local community. Since moving to Chepstow, I have joined the local Orchard Group and become the Secretary for a local Scout group.
Representing Rooted in Hull, in 2015 I worked with the University of Hull to support a visit by a delegation from Hull’s Sister City, Raleigh in the USA. The visit set out to re- build connections between the two cities in advance of the 30th anniversary of connection in 2016. My role before and during the visit was to make connections and introductions between local organisations and businesses linked to food and community and the delegation with a view to building partnerships over the following years. Subsequently, my co-director for Rooted in Hull and I were invited to Raleigh to further develop this relationship.
Innovation in Conservation Grazing Conference 2015:
I was contracted by Natural England to organize and deliver and facilitate a conference in February 2015.
Farm walk series:
Following my move to East Yorkshire, I set ups a series of farm walks in partnership with Grazing Advice Partnership (GAP) as an extension of their online forum to exchange ideas and share knowledge face to face. Farm Walks Programme 2014
I have a few other ideas I would like to follow up but there are only so many hours in the day. The most important thing is, a Bob Marley said,
“love the life you live.
live the life you love.”