Residents in London’s East End got together in 1979 to set up a community farm here on a derelict site bombed in World War II.
By 2009 the site fell into disrepair and faced closure. A new charity – Stepney City Farm – made up of local residents who tirelessly volunteered their time, effort and creativity. Work by people from all ages and backgrounds has brought about an increase in the number of paid staff who have in turn been able to generate change through their leadership and skill.
In three years we have more than tripled turnover and staff numbers. We’re able to stay open for free six days a week. Although we still depend on funding – which keeps us going for only a couple of years at a time – these days the Farm is much more stable.
Hundreds of people joined us in the summer of 2012 for a wonderful launch event with the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushara Ali after the signing of a ten-year lease: the first lease granted to our charity. We’re very much here to stay.
Meet the Team
Celia Hammond – Farm Director (maternity cover)
Celia Hammond, an Area Manager for London Wildlife Trust is our new Farm Director. Previously Celia created ‘Learning Link’ a lifelong learning and consultancy service, designing innovative arts, gardening, food growing, conservation and community education courses to engage hard-to-reach groups across South Coast. In 2010 Celia helped set up ‘Free Film Festivals’, a voluntary organisation in South London and is Chair of the Peckham & Nunhead festival that runs for 10 days each September. Celia has worked in Senior Management in the Third Sector for over 13 years.
Paul Woodmin – Food Enterprise Manager (Local Food Project)
Paul joined the farm at the end of May 2012. Following 17 years as a self-employed landscaper he has spent the last 6 years project managing Big Lottery funded projects for a number of organisations in Norfolk and London. Paul runs the Big Lottery, Local Food Project on the farm which has included the installation of the new landscaping, the set-up of the cafe and the weekly farmers’ market.
Tom Forster – Food Production Worker (Local Food project)
As the Food Production Worker, Tom manages the majority of the farm’s horticultural activities and works on improving the productivity of the livestock. He has many years experience of organic farming where he specialised in vegetable growing and plant propagation. He has also worked on organic and conventional farms rearing rare breed cattle, sheep and pigs. Tom has a Bsc in Environmental Sciences and has worked on woodland and hedgerow restoration projects in Hampshire and Berkshire.
Karen Hart – Communications Officer (Local Food project)
Karen first volunteered at the Farm in 2003 before joining the Local Food team part-time in May 2012. She brings more than 30 years’ communications experience, including posts at the Home Office, Metropolitan Police Service, Northern Ireland Office, City University, SANE and St Margaret’s House/Gallery Cafe. She is a qualified journalist and holds a Master’s degree in Public Communication. She also works on administration for the allotments and Urban Farm sites around Tower Hamlets. In her free time, she looks after a teenager [her daughter], is editing a novel and volunteers with the Writeidea Festival.
Katharine Sharp – Volunteer Manager
Katharine moved down to Stepney in 2010 and was immediately drawn to the farm. She had been working full time as a doctor, but decided to pursue a career in animal care. As she gained more experience and knowledge she gradually accrued more responsibility, and has now been our Volunteer Manager since June 2012. Katharine is focussing on improving the volunteer programme to bring more benefits to our wonderful volunteers, and hopefully developing a Care Farming programme. She also volunteers at Lambourne End Farm to improve her animal husbandry knowledge, where she is undertaking an Animal Care qualification starting in September; this will provide her with more skills to share at Stepney.
Hannah Leigh Mackie – Environmental Education Project Officer
Hannah joined the farm in May 2012 to help expand the Education programme and to build the Plastic Bottle Greenhouse in the Children’s Garden with four local schools. Before then she worked as a freelance Community Arts and Environmental Education practitioner in various parks, gardens & council estates in London, Bristol, Devon and Mexico. At the farm she runs workshops for primary school children on environmental and practical issues such as food growing, recycling and the natural world. She also runs the After School gardening club and this year’s ‘Grow Your Own Sandwich’ project. She works part time at the farm and the rest of the week grows salad for social enterprise Growing Communities in Hackney.
Jessica Hodge – Farm Director (currently on maternity leave)
Jessica joined the farm in May 2011. Prior to that she worked in environmental sustainability for seven years, having been an environment manager for Islington Council as well as various roles for environmental NGO BioRegional Development Group. She is a London Sustainable Development Commission London Leader and hopes to bring this experience to good use in Stepney and to develop the sustainability strategy here. With a strong background in making environmental projects financially viable, as well as five years as a retail manager, Jessica hopes to improve the income mix at the farm. In her spare time she dances and also volunteers as the retro market leader at West Norwood Feast.
Cat Tomlinson – Education Worker
Cat joined the farm in March 2010 through the DWP’s Future Jobs Fund as Trainee Youth Worker. Since then she has attended training related to Youth Work, Play Work, participation, managing volunteers and child protection. In September 2010 the Farm received funding to continue employing Cat as the Education Worker for three years. Cat is the Farm’s main Child Protection Officer, developing the Farm’s policies and procedures. She is focused on working with local Schools and developing opportunities for young people to get involved.
Barn the Spoon
Board of Trustees
Jo Pertwee – Chair
Jo is an HR professional and mother of young children. She has recently stepped down from a job in prestigious company to work in a company which helps parents from disadvantaged backgrounds to return to work. Jo takes the lead on HR policy on the farm.
Steve Wallage – Treasurer
Steve was born in Essex but always hoped to live in London. His first London residence was in Bow, before moving to Stepney green in 2010. Having discovered Stepney City Farm on a walk about in 2011, Steve decided that volunteering at the Farm was not only a great way of becoming involved in the community, it would also be good therapy for steering off a bout of depression. Having volunteered for several months, Steve joined the board as a general trustee, later becoming treasurer after taking redundancy from his career in banking.
Thuy Ho Preuveneers – Company Secretary
Thuy spent 13 years working in IT Consulting and Finance before taking a career break to raise her two children. She is the Governance lead on the Board of Trustees as well as volunteering on finance-related matters and children’s parties at the Farm. As she is a committee member of the Tower Hamlets National Childbirth Trust, she also liaises with organisations and local families with young children.
Tor Park – Vice Chair
Tor first visited the Farm in August 2011, loved it, and became a trustee later that year. A Tower Hamlets resident since 2007, Tor was previously on the board of Toynbee Housing Association. She is Marketing Director at a global software company based in the City (where she is also on the board) and brings over 15 years of Marketing and Communications experience to the farm; Tor is keen to raise the profile of the farm within both the local and wider London communities.
Richard is a Barrister in chambers-with-a-social-conscience. In his spare time Richard travels to disadvantaged parts of the world in order to offer legal advice. He leads on legal issues.Bessie Venables Bessie has 17 years’ experience in NHS psychiatry to consultant level, with additional training in psychotherapy. Formal and ‘on the job’ management and leadership training, including with the King’s Fund. Currently working with a severely disadvantaged population of Rough Sleepers in Central London.
Bessie has 17 years’ experience in NHS psychiatry to consultant level, with additional training in psychotherapy. Formal and ‘on the job’ management and leadership training, including with the King’s Fund. Currently working with a severely disadvantaged population of Rough Sleepers in Central London.
Josh has volunteered at the Farm since 2004; he took up a significant management role from a young age, and became our youngest board member in 2010. Josh is currently studying to be a vet at Cambridge University.
Helen has over 10 years of HR experience. She is currently working as an HR Manager for a property services company. Prior to that role she worked for the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) as a Workforce Coordinator, responsible for recruiting 5,000 medical volunteers to work at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. Before LOCOG Helen worked for five years as Senior HR Adviser for the BMJ Group, a medical publisher. She has an MSc in Human Resource Management (University of Portsmouth) and is a graduate member of the CIPD.