The Orchard Project has a small core of staff and we rely on dozens of volunteers, specialists and partner organisations to make it all happen.
Kath is the CEO at The Orchard Project. She has worked for a number of environmental and community development charities. Kath began her journey by volunteering, leading nature conservation projects in London. She trained in international development and lived for a time in Zimbabwe including studying permaculture as a system of promoting food security. Kath lives in London and has always been interested in finding ways to reconnect with nature as an antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life.
Abby is our Head of Operations and Programmes (London). She was previously Director of our successful Celebration of Orchards project. She ran an education charity for several years prior to joining The Orchard Project, and has a background in managing major projects for young people and schools. Abby has lived in London since 2007, and since 2009 has had her own (very small but beautiful) garden where she has experimented with vegetable and herb growing. She is proud to have a small part of history in her garden with her very own air raid shelter! Abby has volunteered over the years with several organisations that are about connecting people with nature and home grown food, and in her spare time is often out exploring on her bike with her young son.
Chris is our Project Manager for Edinburgh. With a background of working in NHS Public Health, Social Work and Voluntary Sector organisations, Chris has coordinated a variety of community food growing projects in different therapeutic settings, including hospitals, schools and community centres. Having studied horticulture and delivered accredited training courses in growing your own fruit and veg, he has become proud of eventually being able to grow beetroots. Subsequently, he loves locally grown, home made chocolate beetroot brownies.
When not found at the community garden near to where he lives, Chris is a keen forager and enjoys harvesting and preserving wild food. He also has a fascination with birds and when at times he appears vacant and distant, it can on occasion be down to him keenly listening to bird song.
Fergus is our Project Manager for Glasgow. Fergus grew up on his family croft in the Isle of Skye and this formative education sowed the seeds of an ongoing interest in sustainable food production. He is a founder and chair of practical projects to support small scale and cooperative food growing in Scotland. He has worked on various projects including Fife Diet, where he ran the Seed Truck – a mobile education project encouraging people to explore their food culture through gardening. He loves exploring woodlands and foraging for wild food, especially fruit, and generally spending time in nature. He has a background in design and an interest in building wacky bicycle-based machines – he hopes to build a pedal-powered apple press as his next project.
Jo Homan has the best job in the world! Being Education, Skills and Training Manager means she gets to share what she has learnt from her forest gardening background at Edible Landscapes London and go on to learn even more good things. Best of all, she is first to meet the future orchardists of the world who come on our Certificate in Community Orcharding. Here she is talking about forest gardening and here she is singing the praises of training at the Urban Tree Festival 2020. She also enjoys yoga and dancing.
Kate is one of the two Orchard Project Managers for Swansea. Having worked in a commercial plant nursery for ten years, she then became Nursery Coordinator for Coeden Fach Community Tree Nursery, where she has worked for the last ten years. She also enjoys sessional work with Forest School, Swansea Community Farm and Woodland Classroom. Born and brought up in Swansea, she is proud to have already worked on many tree and orchard community planting projects, in and around her home town of Swansea. Her hobbies include walking her two dogs in the beautiful surrounding area of beaches and countryside, as well as swimming, cycling and live music. When people can’t contact Kate, it is usually because she is 30 metres under water, enjoying her other hobby, scuba diving!
Kathryn is our Finance and Operations Manager. She is a chartered accountant who has worked for national charities such as Cancer Research UK and Comic Relief and is a Trustee with Victim Support where she Chairs the Finance, Audit & Risk Committee. She is passionate about equality, and is a Policy Committee member with the Women’s Equality Party.
Kathryn loves accounts, financial analysis, process improvement and Excel, and relishes being able to use her skills to help connect communities, improve wellbeing and build food security with The Orchard Project. Kathryn’s other interests include caring for her growing collection of houseplants, eating amazing vegan food and drinking craft beer!
Lewis is a London-based Project Manager. He joined in 2011 while also working on the Fruit-full Schools orchard project with Learning through Landscapes. A deep interest in ecologically sustainable food systems is the logical conclusion of Lewis’ lifelong fascination with nature and ten years as an environmental educator and activist. He can often be found with his head buried in books and papers about soil microbes and mulch, and visiting organic orchards in his spare time. He’s currently working on his Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design and is known for his passionate and engaging talks and workshops on all things fruit tree! A self-confessed chutney and cider-fiend he puts London’s fruit bounty to good use in the kitchen.
Lizzie is our Chief Cider Maker & Business Manager for our apple saving enterprise that transforms waste fruit into delicious cider and juice. Lizzie has flair for social entrepreneurship, a love for cider and a passion to care for and celebrate our traditional orchards and the delicious fruit they provide. Before celebrating orchards, Lizzie worked for Feedback to launch a gleaning hub in Worcestershire that salvaged unwanted produce from farms and redistributed it to those in need. In her spare time, Lizzie loves trips to the coast, wild swimming, experimenting with fermentation and food growing. She is now officially an orchard wizard having graduated from our level 3 qualification in community orchard management.
Nicole is our Head of Fundraising, responsible for fundraising strategy and grants & trusts fundraising. She has a background in management, consultancy, audit and research across the charity, private and public sectors. She has a particular interest in bringing about environmental and social change through practical projects.
Praveen is our Philanthropy Manager. She has worked in fundraising and business development for over 15 years. Praveen worked for the Barbican Centre for 10 years and for the last three years she has been promoting payroll giving with the Payroll Giving Team. Praveen graduated with a BA in English and Contemporary Dance, trained at the Mountview Conservatoire in Acting and Musical Theatre and has an NLP Business Diploma. She is most proud of balancing a professional career, a family and her connections to the acting world. Her new enthusiasm for building awareness around the urgent state of our climate crisis and numerous social benefits of The Orchard Project’s work has been driven by answering questions from her 8- and 5 year olds! Praveen is passionate about nurturing meaningful relationships, and the benefits nature, gardening and the outdoors can have on one’s health and well-being.
Sarah is our Training Co-ordinator. After over a decade working in the busy financial services industry, she is delighted to turn her passion for local food into her career by joining the Orchard Project. Sarah is a keen allotmenter and she has a lead role at her local Climate Emergency Centre. She has helped primary school children to connect with how their food is grown by leading the food growing project at a local school. The abundant little kitchen garden has been recognised at the local ‘In Bloom’ awards and last year produced a bumper crop of Victoria plums which were transformed into over 50 jars of delicious jam for the community. Sarah recently gained our Level 2 Award in Forest Gardening and says ‘This is such an inspiring and fascinating course, I’m talking to everyone at the allotment about which plants we can use to increase our fruit yields and how we can make our plot ecosystems more resilient! It’s such an exciting course, I can thoroughly recommend it.’ In her spare time she can be found pottering in the allotment or in the kitchen turning her harvest into delicious meals or preserves. She also enjoys sharing beautiful pictures of her bountiful harvest via her Instagram account Grubbyhandshappyheart.
Stephanie became joint Head of Operations and Programmes with Abby in March 2022, and is based in London. She originally joined us in 2014 as a Project Manager on our three year heritage Celebration of Orchards project, working with local volunteers to restore veteran orchards across London, and then moved on to planting new orchards with community groups. She has taught on our Level 3 orcharding certificate course, and devised the Level 2 Award in Forest Gardening. A former radio journalist, she changed career to pursue her passion for nature conservation and community food growing.
Verity Hobbs has joined us in London for a six month internship, supporting our project managers with workshops and community events. She has kick-started a number of community projects, including community live music events in South East London. With experience working in specialist educational provisions and mental health services (NHS CAMHS), she saw the first hand impact of COVID-19, and the oversubscription of local services. This set off a drive to research sustainable and creative solutions for disadvantaged communities, exploring cultural arts and horticultural therapy as methods of practice. As a local resident in Lewisham, Verity soon found out about Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s campaign for cleaner air – taking action against illegal air pollution levels after the death of her daughter in 2013. With this case being the first of its kind and so close to home, Verity knew that she wanted to move forward into a project that had aligning practices; returning ownership to communities, providing opportunities to learn, and improving access to biodiverse spaces. Verity is continuing her studies in horticulture and can often be found reading about philosophy, mycorrhizae, and alternative therapies.
Witchhazel is one of two Project Managers for the Swansea area. Prior to joining The Orchard Project, she was involved in supporting and mentoring community growing projects in and around Swansea, and also founded the Coeden Fach Community Tree Nursery where she worked as Project Coordinator for 5 years. Her love of orchards began when she ran a BTCV Natural Pioneers Millennium Project renovating an old orchard. She now has her own mini orchard consisting of 7 espaliers as an apple hedge. Witchhazel has run a sustainable woodland and orchard management business for over 15 years and is also an experienced trainer and permaculture diploma tutor. She is passionate about permaculture design, since completing the Earth Activist Training at Ragman’s Lane in 2006. On the home-front, she is proud to have recently built her own timber frame home on the Gower Peninsula where she draws inspiration from the sea and also plays in a local band.
Colette has recently joined TOP as our Cider House Intern, after learning everything they needed to know about orchards from our CICO course. As a volunteer, they learnt the basics of cider-making in our Walthamstow Cider House, and since then has joined forces with our charity partner, Hawkes, to also make cider in Bermondsey. Colette has also recently qualified as a Pommelier with the Beer and Cider Academy, and is campaigning for diversity and inclusivity within the drinks industry through their role at Cider Officer for East London CAMRA, as well as their online presence, @cider.queer!
Orchard Volunteer Officers
We have a small band of dedicated Orchard Volunteer Officers as part of our team. Orchard Officers shadow staff, help out with logistics and often take on their own projects. They generally volunteer with us for 6 months and the role is set up to lead to employment in urban horticulture. If you are interested in being an Orchard Volunteer Officer, please get in touch as we may have vacancies.
Board of Trustees
After initially qualifying and working as a Chemical Engineer, Rozanne studied Horticulture and commenced her career in agriculture working as a technical adviser to citrus farmers. After managing the sourcing and procurement of citrus and melons for Capespan for the UK market, she joined Innocent Drinks in 2007 to establish their fruit technical and sourcing team. Rozanne is now Head of Ingredient Supply at Innocent Drinks, responsible for the sourcing of all the juice ingredients for Innocent through the supply chain, managing quality, and sustainable sourcing. As part of this, Rozanne has been managing the Innocent water project in southern Spain, investigating a long term sustainable solution to balance the water needs of agriculture and the ecologically sensitive Donana National Park. She also plays an active role in the SAI (Sustainable Agricultural Initiative) Platform as co-chair of the Fruit Working Group, and as a member of the committee for the SAI Farm Sustainability Assessment, after being part of the team that developed the Farm Sustainability Assessment, which has a vision to become an industry reference point for sustainable agriculture.
Catherine is co-chair of the board of trustees. She has held senior roles in not for profit organisations for over thirty years. Her experience spans environmental and community regeneration, health and education.
With a degree in Geography from UCL, Catherine has a life long interest in the environment and sustainability, combining this with a deep interest in leadership in the not for profit sector. She was fortunate to take part in the Windsor Leadership Programme early in her career as a CEO, and subsequently joined the Cabinet Office’s Top Management Programme. This has enabled her to offer support, training and mentoring to developing leaders throughout her working life.
A keen allotmenteer and beekeeper, Catherine has her own tiny orchard with plums (greengage and victoria) pear and a couple of apples, including one grafted with three different varieties. Catherine is also a Judge of the Green Flag Awards Scheme.
Antonia is co-chair of the board and has over 25 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector. Antonia runs her own consultancy business, Abalone Consulting, working with charities and not-for-profit organisations to help them increase the reach, scale and impact of what they do. Her previous roles include Director of Hospice Support and Development at Hospice UK, Chief Executive of Guild Care in West Sussex, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and Head of Public Affairs at the Royal College of Nursing.
Julia originally trained and practised as a solicitor at a top 100 law firm but wanted to explore life outside of the corporate sector and travelled and worked on farms for a year before joining the charitable sector. She was previously Project Manager at a Jewish Muslim women’s network, bringing communities together through inter-faith work. She now works on campaigns for an animal welfare organisation.
After a first career in journalism, including sustainability, Philippa moved into the charity sector to follow her passion for environmental change. She has been a leader of programmes and organisational change in charities for 10 years, and is currently Head of Organisational Development at FareShare, a national charity that converts surplus food to social good. Proud moments in her career include supporting the set-up of Sutton Community Farm at BioRegional Development Group, and transitioning Global Action Plan from a founder-run to partnership structure. Philippa is passionate about supporting people and organisations in the sector through change and growth, and is a qualified coach with the Coaches Training Institute.
Chris Wehbé (Treasurer)
Chris started his career in financial markets, first as a convertible bond trader at Lehman Brothers and then as a Senior Partner and Global Head of Relative Value for one of Europe’s largest hedge funds. More recently, Chris has focused on impact investment and he is currently Chairman of Lendable, a business that aims to facilitate access to finance in emerging and frontier countries.
Lisa’s career to date has been focused specifically on sustainable investment and finance. Lisa is currently the Head of Communications and Charity Impact at the EIRIS Foundation, a charity working to increase the positive impact of sustainable and responsible investment and drive the transformation to a more sustainable economy. Lisa was previously a Programme Director at the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), supporting the growth of UK market demand for responsible investment and other financial services that advance sustainability through activities such as Good Money Week, the Ethical Investment Association and support for Pension Funds and Charity Investors. Lisa initially developed an interest in sustainable finance while studying Finance and Environmental Economics in South Africa. Lisa is passionate about green spaces, thriving communities and the need for people to be given opportunities to celebrate the natural world.
Carina Millstone is a Founder of The Orchard Project and is now an Ambassador. Carina is a permaculturalist, who first noticed the opportunity in London’s environmental movement – everyone seemed to agree fruit trees were a great thing, but no one was really doing anything about it. Reflecting that a vision of a London covered in fruit trees was actually not a pipe dream- the Victorians had had similar visions for a green London when they had planted London planes- she decided to make it happen while on a jog on her local common. In addition to setting up the Project with Rowena, Carina also acted as Chief Executive before handing over to Kath. Carina has worked as a sustainability consultant for Environmental Resources Management, and served as Manager of Programmes for the New Economy Coalition in the States. She has also been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University and is a Fellow of the Schumacher Institute. She is currently completing a book entitled “Frugal Value: Designing Business for a Crowded Planet”.
Rowena Ganguli is a Founder of The Orchard Project. She is passionate about all things fruit related and developed her food industry expertise working for the likes of Innocent Drinks and Abel & Cole. So far in her working life she has sourced over 100 million litres of apple juice for Innocent, managed a global supply base spanning 12 countries and 3 continents, and created ground breaking sustainability initiatives in food production and manufacturing. She strongly believes in community ownership of urban orchards as a means to bringing neighbours together with a common purpose: to nurture their local environments into productive, resilient and beautiful spaces.
We work with a team of experts, who support our work, provide guidance and help make sure our orchards get the care they deserve, including:
- Russell Miller is a trained arboriculturalist, with plenty of letters after his name, and has planted orchards in his home borough of Hackney for the last decade with his group the Tree Musketeers.
- Bob Lever, orchard expert and member of the East of England Apples and Orchards Project is a fountain on knowledge for orchard restoration and apple identification.
Our orchard leaders
We have trained and supported around 400 Orchard Leaders from our partner community groups. Our Orchard Leaders are responsible for the implementation of the orchard management plan developed with us. They are therefore critical to the success of the community orchards, so thank you all for your hard work and keep it up!