Meet some of our dedicated farming staff...
Ed Bastin, Senior certification officer
Ed is senior Certification Officer looking after some of our UK and International growers and producers. Ed studied organic farming at the Scottish Agricultural College and worked on horticultural units and livestock farms in the UK and Australia. He also spent two years working for a multiple retailer in India setting up a box scheme and organic food department.
Finn Cottle, Trade consultant
Finn has spent more than 20 years within trading departments of two of the major supermarket groups in the UK, running various buying departments across the fresh food sector. This has given her a wide range of experience within both food manufacturing, supply chain and category management for retail. In 2006, she joined the Board of Noble Foods as Marketing & Strategy Director, giving her first hand experience of supplying food into supermarkets as well as bringing her closer to farming and animal welfare issues.
In 2009 Finn took up the opportunity to work with the Soil Association as a Trade Consultant, using her knowledge and network to help build relationships with licensees and drive growth within the organic market. Her retail perspective has proved to be invaluable in considering the challenges which the organic sector faces: she has a specific focus on Dairy where she spent a big part of her retail career.
Rob George, Producer technical manager
Rob has a farming background and on leaving school went on to study mechanics and engineering, following both of these with an honours degree in agriculture from Harper Adams University college in Shropshire. His studies are complemented by extensive practical experience working on the wide range of jobs found on dairy, sheep and arable farms. His fall-back career options include construction and call centre work!
Rob started with Soil Association Certification in 2002 as a certification officer, moving to an advisory role as a senior technical officer for the charity for two years. After this he took the role of producer technical manager back with Soil Association Certification where he answers a wide range of queries from licensees, certification officers and inspectors. He also works with the certification and quality teams in order to reduce unnecessary red tape and is an inspector for producers.
Tom Hartley, Certification officer
Tom studied horticulture with global plant use at Duchy College, Cornwall. He also has practical experience having worked as a grower at Farrington’s Farm Shop, running the vegetable box scheme and the supply of vegetables to local Food for Life award-winning schools.
Sarah Hathway, Technical manager
Sarah graduated from the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) at Cirencester and went to run a mixed holding for several years before joining Soil Association Certification in 2000 as a certification officer.
Sarah’s technical ability and practical approach was recognised early in her career and she became the first producer technical manager in 2003. Her in depth knowledge of licensees and standards development has ensured a smooth implementation of new and revised areas of Soil Association standards. She currently sits on the IFOAM standards committee.
Sarah has dealt with many complicated farming models over the years and her practical solutions have gained her the respect of licensees and colleagues both in Soil Association Certification and the charity. A good portion of her time is spent in discussion with licensees and investigating their new and innovative techniques in organic farming.
Madeleine Neale, Veterinary advisor
Madeleine graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2001 and has not only worked in mixed practices for several years but has also been involved in the development and implementation of animal welfare standards. When the opportunity arose for SA Certification to work with the University of Bristol Veterinary College to help improve animal welfare. Madeleine was hired and spent the next three years working full time with SA Certification and the University of Bristol to assist in implementing formal welfare assessment, within the certification process.
In September 2008 she became the first fully employed veterinary advisor to work with any certification body in the UK. In this role she continues to refine and improve welfare assessment along with providing veterinary knowledge and appropriate training to our staff. She was instrumental in securing the bid that has become the AssureWel project and will continue to be an integral part of the team that will ensure the success of AssureWel.
Susi Seward, Certification officer
Susi studied the anthropology of food and farming, as well as gaining a certificate in organic gardening and volunteering on various organic holdings across Europe. She is interested in both the cultural and practical aspects of our food systems and is keen to expand her knowledge of organic horticulture, with a particular interest in top and soft fruit.
Jim Twine, Business development director
Jim has been involved in organic food and farming all his life. He was born on his parents’ livestock farm (after the vet came!) which has been organic since 1969. He has worked for the Soil Association in a range of business development, supply chain and marketing roles for over ten years. Jim is proud to be a Soil Association symbol holder, farming 500 acres in partnership with his lifelong friend Luke Hasell.