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.
- ceo (at) theorchardproject.org.uk
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.
Elsa is the Project Manager for Manchester. Originally Elsa is from Portland, Oregon where she worked as an Urban Forest Coordinator and as a Park Ranger. For over a decade Elsa has been involved in community food growing projects and currently helps run a community allotment in South Manchester. For the past five years she has worked as an Ecologist undertaking protected species surveys throughout the UK. Having studied Agroforestry and Permaculture, Elsa is passionate about the role orchards play in making our local food systems more robust and biodiverse! Currently, she is learning about different food fermentation techniques and is eager to see what fruity ferments she can come up with next. In the mornings, Elsa enjoys checking her wildlife camera to see what her resident hedgehogs have been up to.
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!
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.
Lizzy is our newest London Project Manager. She has been with the charity for 6 years leading our apple-saving enterprise that transforms surplus fruit from the orchards we support in London into delicious cider! Although the cider enterprise has been discontinued, Lizzy is still organising urban harvests and working with communities to bring more orchards to London. Lizzy has a flair for social entrepreneurship, a love affair with nature and a passion to inspire more people to get outside and enjoy the simple and natural delights of life. She believes in our mission and the importance of re-wilding our cities creating more opportunities for people to experience the magic of nature for themselves but also for the planet. Lizzy believes the more we connect with nature, the more we appreciate and protect it. When she isn’t working you can find Lizzy sailing, swimming, adventuring and generally enjoying life!
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.
Sarah is our Communications Manager and joined us in May 2022. A former journalist with over two decades of experience in media, events and PR, she was formerly Storyteller at the Permaculture Association. Based in the North East of England, Sarah also runs a community allotment and orchard in her village – The Hop Garden – which was set up to share produce and permaculture skills. Originally a Kentish lass who grew up scrumping apples from orchards with her grandad, she was surrounded by oast houses in her childhood. With 55 degrees N being one of the most northerly locations to grow hops, she’s on a mission to share these roots across the region! Sarah is passionate about community growing and loves to experiment with new perennial plants to see if they’re tough enough to survive Northern climes. She’s also rather fond of cake (making and eating).
- sarah.cossom (at) theorchardproject.org.uk
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.
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.
Annie started out at as a Comms Intern with The Orchard Project, and now offers support in comms, operations, planning our urban harvest, and running the monthly supporter programme. Before working with TOP, Annie volunteered with London Food Link and wrote for London’s ‘good food’ magazine, The Jellied Eel. Annie is a certified yoga instructor, and loves writing, hiking, and long-distance running in her spare time.
Louise is our Finance Manager. She has worked in charity finance for over 10 years with experience in accounts, governance, fundraising and audit. Away from work, you can find Louise on a yoga mat, hiking in the beautiful countryside and tending to her house plants. Louise is passionate about tackling environmental issues and the positive effects that nature can have on peoples wellbeing.
Daniella is our Orchard Support Coordinator. Having undertaken the Certificate in Community Orcharding in 2018, she has since been a passionate advocate of all things orchard. With a background in community engagement, she is keen to connect people with nature. Daniella is the founder of several environmental initiatives including a community garden and a fruit harvesting project, she is also an amateur entomologist and is part of a creative collective.
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
Catherine is the 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 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.
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.
Tim has always been passionate about the countryside, his home county of Gloucestershire and cider. He is the owner of a small craft cider company (Orchard Revival) and spends much of his spare time supporting good causes. Tim is also a trustee of the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust. In his local village he was a parish councillor and is a trustee of the village chapel. He leads orchard restoration projects for a number of other charities such as the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, CPRE Gloucestershire and the Ernest Cook Trust. He has become renowned around the county for his endeavours leading to numerous newspaper articles, radio interviews and appearances on BBC Gardeners’ World and BBC Countryfile.
Tim undertook his degree in Geology at Bristol University before working in the commercial property development sector. After a number of years Tim left the commercial sector to become a geography teacher and head of year before more recently deciding to combine his love of Gloucestershire, the countryside and the charity sector by becoming the County Director of CPRE Gloucestershire – The Countryside Charity.
Kathryn lives in Hackney, London and has been involved in several community based projects about making spaces human centred, and using food to connect and do good. She works at the Natural History Museum where she directs a programme to create a new centre to house millions of specimens and to support research to address the global biodiversity crisis.
Kathryn has worked has worked extensively in central government on policies such as climate change, forestry and community development. Kathryn is a Fellow of the School of Social Entrepreneurs.
Andrew is a chartered accountant with a background in property. Having begun his career in a diverse entrepreneurial business, he then moved into the social housing sector, working in technical accounting and financial planning roles. He currently works as financial planning and analysis manager in a national environmental charity.
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, trained arboriculturalist, with plenty of letters after his name, who 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, and a fountain on knowledge for orchard restoration and apple identification.
Tom Adams (Tom the Apple Man) runs a specialist organic fruit nursery, teaches on our CICO courses and also advises and supplies trees for our Welsh orchards.
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!