My interest in sustainable farming was probably triggered by the natural beef system I experienced growing up on an upland farm in south Wales and I am particularly attracted to those innovative farming systems that operate on the ‘fringes.’
After graduating in agriculture in 1982, and a short foray into sales, I did a 2 year stint as a volunteer lecturer and dairy manager in Zambia. I then did an MSc in livestock production and in the early 90s worked in Kenya as a livestock scientist researching the impact of vector-borne disease on the productivity of pastoral livestock. This eventually led to a PhD at Reading, where I continued to work at the veterinary epidemiology and economics research unit (VEERU) for a further 8 years on various projects, including a study of animal health and welfare in organic farming. I have been involved in organic farming research and development ever since.
During my time at Reading, I co-wrote the Organicvet website, which has been widely used and recently revamped nearly 20 years on as www.farmhealthonline.com. In 2001, I moved to Cornwall to work on the Organic Studies Initiative and over the years I have had the pleasure of working on many projects connected with sustainable and equitable farming. The emphasis has always been on farmer engagement. I managed the successful SWARM Knowledge Hub project and I have re-kindled my personal and professional interest in subsistence farming in Africa.
I now consider myself as a bit of a specialist in knowledge exchange and making research relevant and accessible to farmers and growers. In my current role as research manager for Duchy College’s Agri-Tech Cornwall project, I am working closely with fellow researchers and Cornish businesses on innovations to improve the sustainability and resilience of the agricultural sector.