Our team


Phil Haughton: Director and Chair

Phil’s experience spans over 39 years in farming, growing, retailing, wholesaling and delivering organic food. Phil founded the award-winning Better Food Company in 1992 and remains the company’s Managing Director. He has been living, working and breathing organic food from the age of 14 when he first became a member of the Soil Association (of which he has since been a Trustee) He started his career in 1974 farming organically in a community in Scotland before moving to Bristol in 1981 and working at Windmill Hill City Farm for several years, where he worked with kids and adults teaching them about food and farming. Phil founded The Community Farm with the help of others in 2008 – now a well established example of community focused agriculture.

Bonnie Hewson: Project Manager, Director, Company Secretary

Bonnie is a project manager specialising in environmental initiatives and with a love for food and growing in particular. She was previously manager of the Soil Association’s Community Supported Agriculture strand where she managed a team and a budget of £1million. Bonnie has been involved in community and urban growing projects for the past seven years and is passionate about bringing diversity and local resilience to all parts of the food system. She is also a Programme Manager for The Power to Change in Bristol, helping to support and develop the community enterprise sector. In 2015 Bonnie was a Finalist in the Green Hero category of the Bristol Post Green Capital Awards. LinkedIn

Rob Sexton: Financial Director

Rob is a qualified chartered accountant (ACC); he is Financial Director of Yeo Valley and before this held positions as CEO of Soil Association Certification Ltd and COO for the Soil Association. He has worked across a wide range of sectors including the third sector, enterprises and corporations. Prior to joining the Soil Association, he was Chief Financial Officer at InforSense, a spin-out from Imperial College in London, where he raised in excess of £10 million of private equity investment. He has also been a Trustee of the Dartington Hall Trust.

Richard Spalding: Director

Richard is a human geographer who has taught at UWE Bristol for 20 years. A trained horticulturist, he specialises in rural community regeneration projects and has worked for a decade as a driving force behind Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust of which he is now a Vice President. As a geographer, he is particularly interested in re-establishing “food and place economies” in the north Bristol fringe.



Samantha Allen

Sam is Communications and Marketing manager at the Avon Wildlife Trust and also supports our website, communications and key messaging work. As a freelance communications adviser and graphic designer Sam has worked with Jonathon Porritt, Tony Juniper, Tom Burke and Charles Secrett, Motivation International, Compassion in World Farming and Our Forests. She has also previously worked in various roles at the Soil Association as press and e-comms officer, web and publication editor and latterly communications manager. Sam has a passion for cows and hopes to establish a micro-dairy in the future. LinkedIn

Maddy Longhurst

Maddy has a degree in Town and Country Planning and has worked in various projects relating to sustainability, regeneration, youth work and food over the years, including Happy Schools, The Gleaning Network and the Blue Finger Alliance, of which she is a founder. She is excited by the prospect of Beacon Farms safeguarding high quality soils for appropriate uses, and the precedent this sets for Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Vanessa Reid

Nessie is a Political Ecologist working in food waste campaigning, food sovereignty and Biodiversity advocacy. She is Managing Editor for ‘Biodiversity – a Journal of Life on Earth and National Coordinator for This is Rubbish – a food waste NGO. Having worked for NGOs abroad for three years, she has now returned to Bristol and is deeply passionate about food sovereignty, biodiversity and empowering community and civil society change and resilience. Nessie is involved in This is Rubbish, an organisation which aims to communicate the preventable scale of food wasted in the UK, through policy research, community and arts led public events. Nessie was also Rurual Artist in Residence for Cape Farewell in 2015 and thorough this developed The Milking Parlour, an 18 month research and performance based piece exploring some of the values and relationships we hold towards our food and our farming history. The Milking Parlour is a space to inspire dialogue and debate between the farming community and the public and resulted Nessie living with two pure-bred Guernsey cows in the centre of Bristol for 4 nights and 5 days in April 2016.

Sarah Compson

Sarah has a background in business development, ethical standards management and trade relations at the Soil Association, where she has worked for over 8 years. Sarah has just completed a masters in Practical Skills Therapeutic Education and is also training to be a Steiner teacher. Sarah is particularly interested in vocalising the values of Beacon Farms and developing its learning programmes for new entrants.

James Kightley

James worked at the Soil Association for six years in both business development and corporate and trade relations before leaving to become a Soil Association Apprentice at Abbey Home Farm. He is now working as the livestock manager at the Brandon Trust’s 35 acre Elm Tree Farm in Bristol, which provides occupation and training in work related activities for adults with learning difficulties.

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