The mission of the SFT is to accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems, inspired by our philosophy of the interconnectedness of the health of soil, plants, animals and people. Our vision is for future food and farming systems which nourish the health of people and planet and are equitable and accessible to all.
Around the world, we now face multiple crises – climate change, loss of nature and biodiversity, food shortages and famine, partly as a result of conflict, and a worsening public health crisis driven by industrialised food with poor nutritional value.
How do we respond to these crises? We have a choice. We can either double down on industrial farming to produce food that is bad for our health, the environment and food security – or we can seize the opportunity to accelerate more sustainable food and farming and, ultimately, ensure everyone has access to healthy, sustainable food. Today, food and farming are part of the problem, but we believe it could be a big part of the solution if we make the right choices in the coming months and years.
Now, more than ever, we need to work to create a policy, economic and cultural environment that supports sustainable food and farming.
To bring about the transformation in food and farming that is urgently needed, we work in three key areas.
We work closely with government, leaders and other organisations to undertake high-level advocacy for policy change that will support a transition to more sustainable farming systems.
Measuring and valuing sustainability
Informed by our work on True Cost Accounting and building on the proposition that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, we believe that we need a ‘common language’ for measuring farm sustainability, and a globally harmonised framework which takes a holistic approach to measuring sustainability on farms.
Public awareness raising
We support citizens to be part of the change through our communications and research work.
Within these areas we actively work and campaign on a number of issues and projects, from relocalising food systems, to advocating for sustainable livestock. Find out more on the Our Work page.
Food and Farming 5-point plan
Everyone needs to play their part in bringing about a transformation in food and farming. The Sustainable Food Trust is therefore calling on the government, private sector, farmers and civil society to back a ‘Food and Farming 5-point plan’:
- Short and long term Government Action – including emergency support to prevent famine around the world and ensure farmers stay in business. In the UK, a package of measures is needed to help families weather the cost of living crisis. Over the long-term, the government needs to more boldly address the underlying structural challenges, including using Government farm aid to incentivise regenerative agriculture.
- Agreement on a common measurement for sustainability on farms – a Global Farm Metric (GFM) – that will empower farmers to become stewards of change and be rewarded financially for it.
- A Green Finance plan from banks and the private sector that will support farmers through this transition, including cheap loans and favourable banking terms.
- Retailers to provide guaranteed prices for farmers who farm sustainably and measure their impact using the GFM.
- Consumers and citizens able to make easy and informed choices about what to buy, underpinned by a common framework for sustainability which provides the consistent farm-level data needed to inform all current and future food labels.
The Sustainable Food Trust is a registered charity that was founded by Patrick Holden in 2011 in response to the worsening human and environmental crises that are associated with the vast majority of today’s food and farming systems.
He identified a number of major barriers preventing large scale uptake of sustainable food production and healthy diets. These include the lack of an enabling policy and economic environment for sustainable food production and consumption; a tendency towards reductionist and siloed thinking amongst scientists and some campaigning organisations; and a myriad of conflicting messages, often perpetuated by those with vested interests, leading to considerable confusion amongst citizens and policymakers alike about what to eat to be healthy whilst at the same time supporting just and sustainable food systems.
Since being established, the SFT has worked collaboratively to inspire change. Some of the highlights from the past ten years include:
- Helped to establish True Cost Accounting as a concept and discipline, particularly through holding the True Cost of American Food Conference in San Francisco in 2016.
- Published our report, The Hidden Cost of UK Food, in 2017. It is still regularly referenced as the go-to source for true cost accounting in the UK.
- Founded the Harmony Project, inspired by the Prince of Wales’ book Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World. It takes inspiration from nature in changing the way we look at the world, most notably in our education system. After holding the Harmony Conference in 2017, the project has grown and is now becoming its own registered charity.
- Published A Good Life and A Good Death: Relocalising Farm Animal Slaughter in 2018, a report about the decline of small abattoirs in the UK and how this impacts sustainable, high welfare farming. The report sparked our Campaign for Local Abattoirs which has led to the creation of the Abattoir Sector Group which works with government to address problems facing the industry.
- Campaigned for the reduction of antibiotic use in farm animals, publishing our report, Maximum Growth: Whatever the Cost in 2020.
- Founded the Global Farm Metric Coalition, beginning in 2017 through working with farmers. The coalition now has over 150 members. You can find out more about the GFM here.
- You can find our more about our efforts in our 2019 progress report and 2021 progress report
Meet the SFT Board
Our Board of Directors is made up of people passionate about transforming our food and farming systems.
His Majesty The King former Prince of Wales
In 2019, then HRH The Prince of Wales accepted an invitation to become the Patron of the Sustainable Food Trust.
The announcement was made at the launch of the organisation’s Progress Report on Monday 9th December 2019.
Patrick Holden, Founder and CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust:
“The decision by The Prince of Wales to accept this invitation comes at a vital moment in history, when the pressures that unsustainable land management, farming and food production systems are putting on the planet’s ecosystems, are threatening to precipitate irreversible climate change, biodiversity collapse, the further destruction of natural capital, food insecurity and massive and unaffordable damage to public health.
As an organisation that works internationally, with high-level contacts across the world, the SFT is in a unique position to promote greater collaboration between individuals and organisations in leadership positions, encouraging them to embrace united strategies for addressing these unparalleled threats to human civilisation as we know it.
I would like to acknowledge on behalf of the board and staff of the SFT the huge debt of gratitude that we owe to The Prince of Wales for his vision and leadership in this field.”
His Majesty The King’s book Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, reminds us that everything in the universe is connected and balanced by universal laws and relationships, which express themselves everywhere and in all things, manifesting in the laws of physics, the solar system, in the shape and growth patterns of plants, in the beauty of nature, in music, in architecture and in food and farming.
This was the inspiration behind the SFT’s Harmony Project, which seeks to transform education in the UK by putting issues of sustainability at the heart of the curriculum and structuring learning around purposeful, contextualised projects. This new approach references seven key principles that we see at work in Nature – Interdependence; Cycles; Diversity; Adaptation; Health; Geometry; and Oneness – and these are used to frame all learning.
Lady Jane Parker
Interim Chair of Trustees
Jane Parker has been a long term supporter of the sustainable food movement. She owns Fir Farm in the Cotswolds, a mixed farm run on sustainable and organic principles. Jane has been actively involved with the SFT for a number of years, most recently campaigning for local abattoirs and the relocalisation of food systems.
Christina Lee Brown
Christina (Christy) Lee Brown has always been deeply committed to social responsibility and community service. Originally from Maryland, she married Owsley Brown in 1968 and lives in Louisville, Kentucky. The Brown family business, Brown – Forman, includes such brands as Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve.
In 1985, Christy founded the Center for Interfaith Relations and went onto launch the first US Festival of Faiths, also in Louisville. Christy is a co-founding board member of the newly formed Berry Center. The mission of the centre is to perpetuate a culture that uses nature as the standard, that accepts no permanent damage to the ecosphere and that takes into consideration human health in local communities. She is an international trustee of Religions For Peace, the world’s largest international interfaith organisation. She believes passionately in the potential of faith communities to effect positive change by working together, at the same time celebrating their commonalities and differences. Christy is a proud mother of three and grandmother of nine.
George P. Kailis played a key role in establishing a global network of individuals and organisations that are committed to the SFT’s mission of developing more sustainable food and farming systems. He is a prominent food producer in Australia. His family has enjoyed a long history of successful large-scale food businesses (seafood, farming, processed food, restaurants), as well as fast food chains such as Red Rooster and Pizza Hut. From 2000, the focus of the Kailis family was inspired towards more sustainable seafood production, in line with MSC certification.
Peter is one of Britain’s organic pioneers. Since 1974, he has owned and run a 45-acre farm in West Wales producing organic fruits and vegetables for a box scheme, local farmers’ markets and shops. In the 1980s, he founded Organic Farm Foods, which is now the largest specialist supplier of organic fresh produce in the UK. He has been a member of the Soil Association Council for over 35 years and is a member of the International Association for Partnership of sustainable food leaders addressing social, cultural and economic influences. He was awarded an OBE for services to organic farming.
Evi has a background in regenerative agriculture and sustainable finance. She is a General Partner of Ponderosa Ventures, an early stage impact fund investing in companies transforming the food, agriculture, and ocean sectors. Prior to co-founding Ponderosa, she was an investor with Astanor Ventures, the largest food and agriculture venture fund globally. She began her investment career at Generation Investment Management, an asset manager proving the business case for integrating sustainability metrics into financial analysis. While earning her B.A. at Yale University, she conducted research on regional abattoir infrastructure as an enabler of regenerative meat production.
Arlo is CEO of Freud Communications, a leading independent PR agency, certified as a B Corp and a 2021 Queens Award for Enterprise winner. He is also Chief Executive of Freuds Group – a family of businesses, ranging from Academy Award winning film and TV production, financial communications and behaviour change, through to product sourcing, insight, social media and private equity. The businesses are diverse but are united by a shared worldview and sense of impact and mission. Arlo is Chairman of the Blue Marine Foundation, one of Europe’s leading environmental NGOs, Trustee of the Sustainable Food Trust and Honorary Fellow of ZSL. He is Co-Chair of the S30 – a group of the world’s leading Chief Sustainability Officers convened by HM King Charles II.
Meet the team
All of our team members are dedicated to the mission of the SFT and are passionate about food and farming.
Patrick Holden, CBE
Founder & CEO
Patrick is the founder and chief executive of the Sustainable Food Trust. Patrick’s extensive advocacy work centres on the importance of transforming our food and farming systems to address climate change, reverse biodiversity loss, and improve public health. This work includes regular broadcasts and talks at public events.
After studying biodynamic agriculture at Emerson College, Patrick established a mixed community farm in Wales in 1973. His farm is now the longest established mixed organic dairy holding in Wales, producing an-award winning raw milk cheddar-style cheese, Hafod, from the milk of 90 Ayrshire dairy cows.
Patrick was the founding chairman of British Organic Farmers in 1982, and director of the Soil Association from 1995 and 2010, during which time the organisation led the development of both organic standards and the market for organic foods. He is a Patron of the UK Biodynamic Association and, in 2005, he received a CBE for services to organic farming. In 2022 he was awarded an honorary doctorate for international work in sustainable agriculture from the University of Wales Trinity St David, bestowed upon him by the then Prince of Wales.
Adele has been working with the SFT since 2013, now overseeing the organisation’s strategic activities. In recent years, one of her major focuses has been the development of a project called the Global Farm Metric – an internationally common framework for measuring on-farm sustainability. She is also currently an advisor to the Scottish Government.
In 2020, she undertook a part time secondment with the Welsh Government, and in 2019 she completed a part-time secondment with DEFRA, both times working to develop metrics for monitoring the new post-Brexit farm support schemes. Previous to these roles, she has a background in geography and soil science.
Strategic Advisor and Global Farm Metric Director
Fabia joined the Sustainable Food Trust to work with the team to take the Global Farm Metric to the next stage of consensus and adoption, and to Chair the GFM coalition working group.
She first met Patrick Holden in 2015 when CEO of the Rothschild Foundation, director to the family office and board member of the Waddesdon Estate. She was looking for answers to how a responsible land owner could ensure that their land was passed to the next generation in a better state – environmentally, economically and for greater public good. This led to Sustainable Food Trust’s work into the establishment of a common language and framework for measuring the sustainability of our land management systems.
Fabia remains a board member and trustee for a number of family offices, Non-Executive Director of Whitley Asset Management, Trustee of the Illuminated River Foundation and Director of Waddesdon Wines Limited.
Director of Harmony in Education
Richard is the Director of Harmony in Education for The Harmony Project, and facilitates the SFT’s work in campaigning to transform education around food, farming and sustainability.
With over 30 years teaching experience, including as Headteacher of an Ofsted graded Outstanding School for 18 years, his work in redesigning a curriculum around Nature’s principles of Harmony has already begun inspiring the next generation of teachers and children.
Richard believes passionately that the best way for children to be motivated in their learning is when it makes sense to them and when they have a key role to play. Through combining core skills to purposeful enquiries of learning, the children start to develop their own vision of how they want to see their world and just as importantly what they can do to make it happen.
Lesley Mitchell is Policy Director for the Sustainable Food Trust, leading an expert team to develop policy, evidence and advocacy to drive the regeneration of food and agriculture. Previously she led Forum for the Future’s global food systems practice for five years.
Lesley is a specialist in systems change for a sustainable future and has worked with some of the most ambitious and forward looking major multi-national corporates, as well as major global conveners like WBCSD, stretching ambition and equipping partners to deliver their climate, environment and development ambitions and building diverse collaborations bringing together unlikely allies to innovate where no one player can solve a challenge alone.
Head of Policy & Campaigns
Megan’s role involves working on SFT campaigns and shaping our work to influence policy. She also supports our communications team to ensure our policy and campaigns are reflected in our communications outputs.
Before joining the SFT, Megan studied for a degree in International Politics and then gained a Masters degree in Food and Water Security at Aberystwyth University. Following some work as a lambing assistant in Devon, she joined the SFT as an intern, moving to a full time role as a policy assistant before becoming communications manager. Megan now works on our policy, campaigns and comms, linking these important areas together.
She currently lives on her family’s Somerset farm where they rear sheep and spin and sell the wool.
Megan is currently on maternity leave.
Head of Projects
As Head of Projects, Bonnie oversees a wide range of SFT activities, including the Feeding Britain campaign, Beacon Farms project, and work around food education and local food.
She joined the SFT in 2017 to support the development and delivery of SFT projects and events. A large part of this work included managing the establishment and evolution of The Harmony Project – an SFT led initiative, working with educators to help them put Nature’s principles of Harmony at the heart of teaching and learning. Bonnie has a background in food anthropology and environmental science with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Amsterdam, and a Food Anthropology MA from SOAS University of London.
Bonnie grew up in rural Somerset on a diet of cheese and pickle sandwiches and has loved food and farming ever since! She is excited to be part of a growing movement of people who care about where their food comes from, and hopes the work of the SFT will help to inspire farmers, producers and citizens to move towards more sustainable food production and consumption.
Head of Operations
Claire takes the lead on the operational management of the Sustainable Food Trust, as well as playing a key role in our strategic development and overseeing fundraising and financial activities.
Before joining the SFT, she spent eight years as Project Manager for Ecoworks, a community urban food and environmental organisation in Nottingham. There, she managed a number of projects including the box scheme and café alongside community horticulture and healthy eating projects.
Claire is currently on maternity leave.
Head of Research
Richard joined the Sustainable Food trust in 2021 to oversee research activities, including within the Global Farm Metric and across a range of other projects and focus areas.
Since 2011, his research has included applying quantitative and qualitative methodologies to problems as diverse as guillemot breeding productivity, the pollination niches of buttercups and the research priorities for animal health modelling. His current focus is on implementing change towards more sustainable grassland-based livestock farming.
Prior to joining the SFT, Richard was a Lecturer in Sustainable Systems at Aberystwyth University. He has expertise in high nature value and climate friendly livestock farming. Before gaining his PhD in pollination ecology in 2011, he held positions as a countryside ranger at a number of nationally important UK nature reserves. Away from work, Richard is a keen walker, sea swimmer and writer.
Senior Research Officer
Robert works alongside others in the research team, helping to produce reports and briefing papers on a number of subjects, including the hidden cost of UK food and the role of grazing livestock in sustainable food systems. More recently, he carried out the research behind the Feeding Britain report, which explored the impacts on land use, food production and self sufficiency following a nationwide transition to regenerative, agroecological farming practices.
Robert comes from a hill farming family in Highland Perthshire, producing organic beef and sheep as well as trees. He has always been interested in the relationships between land use and the environment, and it’s an incredibly exciting (if challenging, and sometimes disheartening!) time to be working on these issues.
Research and Policy Officer
Imogen supports the research team in keeping up to date with the latest scientific evidence and report writing. She also assists with communications and policy work to ensure our messages are based on current research and policy events.
After completing her Biology degree at the University of Bristol, where she focussed on plant biology, molecular genetics, and the ecology of food production, she spent time volunteering with the Soil Association before joining the SFT as an intern. Imogen is currently studying for a master’s in Food Policy at City, University of London alongside her work.
Imogen is drawn to the link between people, food and nature. She believes that promoting equitable access to land, employment opportunities and food are the strongest ways to ensure that the food system can support the planet and everyone who lives on it.
Global Farm Metric Trials Manager
Lydia works with Marina to support the delivery and roll out of the farm trials for the Global Farm Metric team and to design and deliver the future farm trials programme.
Previously she worked as the Project Manager for Agricology – a sustainable food and farming platform set up by Daylesford and run by the Organic Research Centre. She has an MSc in Carbon Management and a BSc in Geography from the University of Edinburgh. Lydia also worked as a Marketing Manager for The BBC Good Food and BBC Gardeners World Live events, before spending a year at Ballymaloe Cookery School, which led her to a role as a private chef at Daylesford.
Lydia’s love of food was inspired by a childhood of wholesome, home cooked food and no day beginning without a freshly baked loaf of Irish Soda bread. But her interest in pursuing a career in sustainable food and farming was affirmed at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Not only did she develop an understanding of sourcing quality produce but that most importantly, it all starts with the soil!
Global Farm Metric Trials Manager
Marina works alongside Lydia to oversee the development, delivery and analysis of the Global Farm Metric’s national trials.
Previously, she studied Marine Engineering for 5 years, until one day she understood that what made her happy was food and sharing moments with her loved ones, like her mom and grandmother – and so she became a chef to further explore food and her own culture. After working in different restaurants around the world, Marina began to question her relationship with food and the planet. She stepped out of the kitchen and far back to the roots of food itself, farming.
A new passion was unlocked and it became her personal responsibility to try to influence others’ relationships with food in the same way. For Marina the best way to spend a day would be fermenting and pickling everything she has in her kitchen – pickled nasturtium seeds are the new capers!
Global Farm Metric Trials Officer
As Trials Officer, Anna works with Marina to support the development, analysis, and delivery of the national Global Farm Metric trials.
Food and food production has always played a central role in Anna’s life through countless hours spent picking cherries, apples and plums in her family’s orchards, but also through her specialisation in international value chain management. Anna has a BSc in Social Sciences and Economics, and a MSc in Natural Resource Management. She previously worked in the Woodland Trust’s Insight Team to support the leadership team with audience understanding, project evaluation and planning.
Anna then took a sabbatical and spent a year travelling Europe working in olive groves, on vineyards and herding sheep under cork oaks. Sampling great local food (Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, Slovenian natural wines, Portuguese bifana, Poiré Domfront, raw milk cheeses from Grazelema with carne de membrillo) was a highlight of the trip!
Anna returned to the UK and now lives in Pembrokeshire where, prior to starting her current role, she worked for a small community benefit organisation coordinating a citizen science project monitoring the health of the River Nevern catchment. She also led a county wide apple juicing project which turned more than 6 tons of apples into juice.
Global Farm Metric Projects Officer
Olivia works in the Global Farm Metric team, her main focus being the international application of the GFM, through her work with Regen10.
Olivia started her career as a farm and equine vet in Cornwall, attending to the varied veterinary needs of large dairy herds, small-holdings of single pygmy goats, and everything in between! Rainy days TB testing provided the perfect conditions for chatting to farmers about the future of agriculture and piqued Olivia’s interest in regenerative and agro-ecological farming. Realising agriculture’s capacity as a solution to, not just cause of, climate change and biodiversity loss inspired her to supplement her practical knowledge of the food and farming industry with rigorous training across the pillars of sustainable development through a Masters in Development Practice from Trinity College Dublin.
Olivia is interested in the social dimensions of agriculture – the farming identity and the need for a just rural transition. Although not growing up on a farm, she has always been most at home surrounded by animals and nature (and preferably the sea) and hopes that the work of the Sustainable Food Trust will facilitate the reconnection to the land and deep understanding of the provenance of food that is necessary for our shared future.
As Communications Manager, Victoria works to spread the word about the SFT’s mission to enable a more sustainable food and farming system.
Overseeing our digital channels, Victoria develops the SFT’s communications strategy, helping to ensure that the importance of our research and projects is recognised and that our content is accessible and engaging.
Having grown up on an organic mixed farm in Cornwall, Victoria spent over 10 years working within publishing and sustainable finance in Oxford, Sheffield, and Bradford, and now lives on the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park. When not busy spreading the word about sustainable farming, Victoria enjoys walking, rock climbing, good food and live music.
As part of the Communications team, Alice helps to get the SFT’s messages across through our content, newsletters, and social media. She’s responsible for other essential daily communications and admin tasks.
Alice has a background in communications and marketing within the charity sector, including Bristol Zoological Society and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. It was in Cornwall that Alice gained a First Class Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communications from Falmouth University. She takes pride in working for organisations that make a positive impact on the world.
Alice grew up in a small village in Cornwall, surrounded by miles of green fields and farm life. Though now living in Bristol, she still enjoys escaping the hustle and bustle of the city and returning to the peace of the countryside. She is excited to be a part of the SFT and to immerse herself in the world of agriculture and sustainable food.
Alicia works as a freelance writer and website editor for the Sustainable Food Trust. She is able to use her understanding of sustainable food from the hands on perspective of growing food on a small organic horticulture farm in West Wales, Troed y Rhiw Organics, which she runs with her partner Nathan Richards.
Born in the United States, Alicia is a long way from home but loves her life in the wild west of Wales. She graduated with distinction from Stanford University and has an MA in the history of photography from the University of New Mexico. Before finding herself a small-scale farmer, Alicia worked for many years in the contemporary visual arts, working closely with artists as a curator, gallery educator and art critic.
Executive Assistant to Adele Jones
Isabel helps SFT’s Deputy CEO, Adele, to keep on top of her busy schedule and support the rest of the team with event organisation, project logistics and comms work.
She studied Italian at university and has since taken on a variety of roles in the UK and Italy, including editing books, teaching English as a foreign language, organising tours of Florence and supporting an in-house legal team.
Isabel’s great grandfather was a farmer and she’s always felt drawn to rural life. In 2018, she set off to southern France to volunteer on organic farms and vineyards; learning about biodynamics and permaculture, helping to fill 20,000 wine bottles and repair drystone walls, and enjoying some excellent pesticide-free rose! The experience left her with a keen interest in sustainable living and the desire to learn more.
Executive Assistant to Patrick Holden
Rebecca provides day to day support to SFT’s Founder and CEO, Patrick.
She comes from a hill farm in rural Mid Wales which has been in her family for over 4 generations. She has a passion for nature, conservation and the great outdoors which has led to her spending time living and working in both New Zealand and Canada. She studied Countryside Management at Bishop Burton College and regularly volunteers with her local wildlife trust.
When not working Rebecca likes to spend as much time as possible outdoors, whether that be in the garden or out exploring with her binoculars.