Meet some of the team involved with developing and running FarmED. Roles are many and varied, but what we all share is a passion for good food and good farming.
Ian and Celene Wilkinson are the joint owners of Honeydale Farm and co-founders of FarmED. Ian studied farm and grassland management at Berkshire College of Agriculture and 35 years ago he joined Cotswold Seeds, a family business based in Moreton-in-Marsh, becoming MD in 1998. The ideas for FarmED were sown many years ago, since under Ian’s direction, Cotswold Seeds built its reputation on developing forage, herbal leys, green manures and complex seed mixtures to improve soil health, sequester carbon and mitigate climate change.
Ian’s enthusiasm and expertise as a communicator have resulted in him being in high demand to give presentations at events, and address a variety of individuals and groups, from the Oxford Real Farming Conference to organisations such as the National Trust. Since FarmED’s launch Ian has engaged in deep debate and discussion with everyone, from farmers, growers, advisers, foodies, policy makers, students and researchers who are passionate about regenerative agriculture, farming with nature, sustainable food and addressing the climate crisis.
Celene and Ian Wilkinson are the joint owners of Honeydale Farm and co-founders of FarmED. They met at Berkshire College of Agriculture, where Celene was training to be a veterinary nurse. Celene has always been passionate about animal health, welfare and nutrition including livestock and wildlife, and for many years has been a volunteer brood bitch holder for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
With her knowledge of the huge impact of diet on breeding animals, she grew increasingly focussed on the impact that farmers have on human health, as producers of the food that we all eat when planning her own family. With four children to raise and feed, Celene took a keen interest in providing food that would give her son and daughters the best start in life. Her personal experiences have given her an in-depth understanding of the crucial need for readily available and affordable food that’s produced by regenerative farming systems which are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
As well as helping Ian and the team to devise and deliver the strategy for farm and food education at FarmED, Celene also loves working on the farm on a practical level, helping with everything from tractor driving and tree planting to moving and watering the mob-grazed sheep.
Sally Pullen has over twenty-five years experience in the hospitality industry. After roles managing teams in sales and marketing for hotels in the UK, Sally went on to work for Wentworth Golf Club and Champneys Spa. With her chef husband, Nick she opened Wild Thyme Restaurant in Chipping Norton which she successfully ran for fifteen years. Sally has a ten year-old-daughter, a thirteen-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, and when they are not keeping her busy she loves entertaining in her home and drinking wine by firesides in country pubs.
Programme Coordinator (Projects)
Becky joined us as a career changer after working in film production for over a decade and completing an MA in Social Entrepreneurship in 2019. Passionate about turning young heads towards the farming and food sector, Becky created 'Grounders', a programme for young people that combines seasonal jobs with food and farming education. This led her to FarmED, where she has been working across a range of exciting projects including GREAT in Gloucestershire and with the Emergent Generation, our new ecosystem of young champions seeking to build sustainable farming and food systems. Much of Becky's work is focused around working with new entrants to farming and growing, and using her film production, project management and communication skills to help us increase our impact and reach.
Kate grew up in Oxfordshire then studied Agriculture at Harper Adams. She worked on a dairy farm in Cumbria, then travelled to New Zealand to work on a sheep station. Kate returned to the UK to work at the Great Tew Estate, firstly driving tractors, then in the Farm Office and managing the Grain Processing business. Through her work at Great Tew she was involved with LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) and their Nature Based Solutions to Climate Change project. She organised Primary and secondary school visits to the farm with LEAF Education, focussing on food and how it is produced. She started working with an organisation called Nutritank in 2020 to get medical students out to farms and enable them to learn about nutrition from the ground up. Kate is the granddaughter of George Henderson, author of the Farming Ladder (a farming book written in the 1940’s). His principles were very similar to those at FarmED and his writing was an inspiration for Ian and Celene when they bought the farm. Kate is usually accompanied by her dog Peggy and also has a small herd of goats which are used for conservation grazing.
Sophie grew up in the Cotswolds before going on to study geography at the University of Exeter. She is passionately interested in the interaction between human beings and the planet and travelled to California to study the impact of tourism in Yosemite National Park as part of her degree. Her dissertation focused on the implementation of natural flood management schemes, taking the award-winning scheme at FarmED as a primary case study.
As Event & Office Coordinator at FarmED Sophie is the first point of contact for anyone visiting FarmED, either to hire the venue for their own group or to take part in the comprehensive events programme being organised by FarmED.
Public Engagement Coordinator
Danielle is FarmED's Public Engagement Coordinator and has a special interest in earthworms. Since writing her dissertation at University on the importance of earthworms in our farming and food systems, Danielle has spent her time at FarmED educating people on their role in soil on farm walks and during workshops.
Passionate about soil, and how to regenerate it, she enjoys learning and practising farming and growing methods that can help give a little back to nature. She is also responsible for communicating to wider networks about the importance of regenerative farming and food to help create a deeper impact across the supply chain. You will find her on the farm with her hands dirty counting earthworms, or sampling a new cake in the cafe.
Farm & Food Discovery Coordinator
Heidi grew up on a family farm in Worcestershire and studied primary education at the University of West England before gaining experience in a variety of roles in the charity, environmental and education sector. With the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust she worked with schools, forging links with the business sector, while work at Groundwork focussed on environmental projects.
Laterly, Heidi was involved with the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme, all about making healthy sustainable meals the norm for everyone to enjoy. Heidi worked with schoolteachers, helping them to build knowledge and skills to engage children and parents and reconnect people with where their food comes from.
Honeydale Kitchen Garden
Driven by a wish to help supply good quality food to local people, Emma Mills helped to found the Kitchen Garden People, a CSA (community supported agriculture scheme) responsible for the kitchen garden at FarmED.
For Emma, the taste and smell of homegrown salads and vegetables evokes the happiest childhood memories. Emma spent her childhood years living all over the world, with periods in Nigeria and Korea. Her French mother always cooked from scratch adapting her cuisine to incorporate fresh and seasonal produce from the local markets. Emma went on to Scotland to study Modern History at St Andrews University, where the Environmental History modules particularly appealed to her. She spent a gap year working with tigers in the Madhya Pradesh and Bandavgarh National Park.
Dan is the Kitchen Garden People’s grower, responsible for managing the two acre fieldscale plot and polytunnels that comprise the FarmED Kitchen Garden.
After graduating from Durham University, Dan worked in London in the insurance industry. Finding that the corporate life did not suit him and drawn more and more to the issues of sustainability, he went on to study for a masters in environment and business in Oxford. This wide ranging course covered sustainability and corporate social responsibility and lasted for the duration of two years, giving Dan time to explore different avenues. He became increasingly interested in the sustainable food and farming movement in Oxfordshire, in the early days of the Oxford Real Farming Conference, and the concept of community supported agriculture (CSA) really appealed to him.
Dan worked with North Aston Organics, and Sandy Lane Farm Shop, providers of organic vegetables and veg boxes, before going on to become a founder of Cultivate, in 2010. Three years ago, after Dan moved with his young family to the Cotswolds, he set up the Kitchen Garden People with Emma Mills and Christine Elliott.
Young farmer, Hallam Duckworth, owns The Dairyy at Honeydale.
Hallam graduated from Harper Adams University with a degree in agriculture and an ambition to own his own farm one day, but in the meantime he’s one of the first young farmers to gain hands-on experience here at FarmED. Hallam does not come from a farming background but grew up a few miles from FarmED, in the village of Chadlington, and while at school, he worked for a livery yard. He became increasingly involved in the farming side of the business, which inspired him to go on to study agriculture. His degree involved a one year placement at a beef farm near Milton Keynes and his first full time job was on a dairy farm in Berkshire, where he worked for a year, before moving back home to work with a local farmer during lambing. Hallam shares the frustration of many young, first generation farmers who struggle with access to land. This is one of the issues that FarmED aims to address, providing facilities and encouragement to new entrants in farming by providing opportunities to establish micro businesses in order to gain knowledge and experience and a foothold, which will enable them to progress onto bigger projects. Hallam’s, trio of Fleckviehs and their calves, which arrived in spring 2021, marked the start of his microdairy venture.
Bees, Seeds & Technology
Paul manages the FarmED apiary and is also the Manager of Cotswold Seeds, where he has worked since 2000.
Paul grew up in villages in the Cotswolds and as a youngster he worked on a mixed farm in Gloucestershire as a farmhand, herding cattle and helping with the harvest. While in the sixth form at school, he also worked part time mixing seed orders in the warehouse at Cotswold Seeds, where he remained for a gap year and returned during the holidays while completing a degree in Computer Science. After graduating in 2005, Paul joined Cotswold Seeds fulltime, tasked with improving the IT infrastructure and digitising the seed ordering system and became a technical advisor on the sales team. Paul was involved for many years with the multi-million pound, EU-funded Healthy Hay and Legume Plus research programmes, focusing on the science behind the forgotten forage legume, sainfoin. As well as being great for livestock, sainfoin is also an excellent forage for bees. Paul was also involved with the creation of FarmED, helping to devise and refine the vision for the centre and briefing architects, as well as speccing requirements for the IT, and other technology including the solar-powered gate.
Sam Lane is the Technical Manager at Cotswold Seeds.
Sam grew up in an agricultural community in Oxfordshire and studied for a degree in agriculture at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, after which he worked for four years on Swinbrook Estate, carrying out many duties including cultivation, spraying and drilling throughout the season. He joined Cotswold Seeds seven years ago, and as well as providing farmers with advice on complex grass seed mixtures, and visiting farms all over the UK, Sam regularly represents Cotswold Seeds at agricultural shows. He is often invited to give talks and presentations to farming groups, on everything from choosing the right grass seed mixtures for their farm, to establishment and management of the various mixtures. Complex seed mixtures and the benefits they bring to animal health, soil fertility and farm profitability are at the heart of much of Sam’s work at Cotswold Seeds and he’s co-authored many of Cotswold Seeds’ technical publications, including ‘The Herbal Ley Farming System’, ‘Mob Grazing Guide’ and ‘Sort out Your Soil.’
Sam has been actively involved in FarmED right from the start, including helping to plan and manage the crop rotation at the heart of the farm.
Architect Tim Tasker is responsible for the design of the FarmED buildings, and it’s his acute awareness of the need for architecture to be sympathetic to its natural surroundings, as well as a passion for sustainability and ‘well buildings’ that’s helped to turn Ian and Celene’s vision into reality. Tim grew up on a smallholding in Yorkshire,and says that he ‘loved the idea of working on the land,’ but he was ‘always drawing’ and so he took the most natural route for him and followed his parents into a career as an architect. After studying architecture at Oxford Brookes and UCL, Tim worked for several firms, including WilkinsonEyre Architects, where he was involved in high profile projects such as the Thames Cable Car, Battersea Power Station and the Siemens Innovation Center in the Green Enterprise District of London. In 2016 he set up on his own, establishing TTA, and the development of Honeydale Farm/FarmED, was his first big project, working with associates Christopher Jennings-Petz and Anthony Carlisle at the concept and planning stages.
Honeydale Kitchen Garden & Apple Expert
Christine Elliott helped to found the Kitchen Garden People, a CSA (community supported agriculture scheme) responsible for the kitchen garden at FarmED.
Christine obtained a degree from the College of Agricultural Engineering at Silsoe, which became part of Cranfield University, after which she went on to work in a planning department in Aberdeenshire, concentrating on environmental issues. After completing an MSc in transportation and traffic planning at Birmingham, she worked for many years in IT, before moving to Charlbury in 1987 to work at Oxford University.
The common thread throughout her varied career has been her focus on environmental concerns. Christine is interested in compost and soil health and was part of the Master Composter scheme run by Garden Organic. She’s the local reserve warden for BBOWT’s Blenheim Farm Nature Reserve in Charlbury, teaches people scything, is involved with the Wychwood Project and is Vice Chair of Charlbury Green Hub,, which led to the immensely popular Big Apple Take-Aways which have run every Autumn since 2008. Christine particularly helps each week with the harvest in the Kitchen Garden and enjoys lending her expertise to the development of the unique heritage orchard at FarmED.