Do something Amazing: join the Coop Committee
Joining the Tablehurst & Plaw Hatch Coop Committee is a great way of doing something truly amazing: supporting and promoting sustainable organic farming into the future for the benefit of our children and beyond. Our Coop Committee is elected from the shareholder base. It is made up of volunteer shareholders who give freely of their time and expertise to support these core values of sustainability, organic farming and self-reliance. We always look for individuals who share such values to join the Committee, so you have the opportunity to make a difference where it really matters.
The Current Coop Committee
We're a bunch of passionate guys and girls who have an enduring love affair with our local farms. We come for a hugely diverse background and our skills and experience can always be added to. So join us and see what you can bring to the table! (*)
Andrea Ashton, Chair
My working background is in the education sector. I have worked for over 20 years with students with profound and severe learning difficulties and Autistic Spectrum disorder and associated challenging behaviour. I have also had many years experience as a senior leader and headteacher, developing the ethos and value system of inclusive education and enabling the curriculum to prepare our students for life beyond school.
I am passionate about community development and support all elements of local community activities where I can. I believe in the strength of the community to enable a collective voice to be heard – I am also a strong supporter of local and small business and avoid funding large corporations where possible and where my knowledge extends.
For many years now, I have had an interest in ethical and organic food production leading me to learn about the Biodynamic approach to farming and food production. I have watched with interest how the farms have changed and grown and have enjoyed many farm tours and activities.
I was also delighted to discover that Tablehurst Farm supports young adults who have learning difficulties and embraces them as part of the farm community. This led me to become interested in becoming a member of the Co-op committee.
Peter Morris, Treasurer
Peter lives in Forest Row with his wife, Evelyne, in the house he moved into 40 years ago. His daughter works in the village and his son lives in South Korea. Peter became treasurer of the Co-op in 2013 and other recent community based activities have included being a trustee of the Jupiter Chamber Orchestra and being heavily involved in his local residents’ association.
Peter grew up in a small farming village in Lincolnshire. He read maths at Imperial College and spent his working life as an actuary. For most of the time he worked for firms in the financial services industry but the later part of his career was involved with regulation of that industry. He can claim to having devised and introduced consumer protection rules that apply to over £1 trillion of people’s savings.
Peter Brown, Committee Member
Peter has been a biodynamic farmer since he was 21, first on a farm in S Africa, near Cape Town for 15 yrs, then for 3 yrs in Germany before moving to Tablehurst Farm in Sussex in 1994. In 1996 Tablehurst, a mixed biodynamic farm of over 600 acres with a farm shop, which includes 3 apprentices and 3 adults with learning disabilities as part of the team, became one of the first Community Supported Agriculture projects (CSA) in the UK.
As farm Director (20014-2017), among his other achievements, Peter devoted much of his energy into successfully launching the Seed Co-operative.
He continues to serve the BDA (Biodynamic Association) as a trustee and is the Biodynamic Association’s Agricultural Adviser.
Brian Swain, Deputy Chair
Brian Swain has been a member of the Forest Row community since 1983 when he attended Emerson College. Professionally he is an organisational development consultant working mainly in the UK with some assignments across Europe. Currently his work is with large construction projects, their organisation and performance. His work focus is collaborative working, communication and value creation. He has been a supporter of Plaw Hatch and Tablehurst farms since before the formation of the Co-op, has been a director of the Farm Co-op for 14 years and recently joined St. Anthony’s Trust.
“The work of farming is essential to our culture, communities and individual and family lives, as such our farms must be actively supported. The benefit of such engagement leads to abundance.”
Elle Fox, Secretary & Newsletter Editor
I discovered the farms while searching for locally produced organic food and raw milk so I could successfully support people with serious health challenges. I am a naturopath, specialising in ASD and gastrointestinal health, a health researcher and author with over 30 years' experience in mentoring and supporting government executives and lay people alike.
Being involved with Old Plaw Hatch and Tablehurst Farms has deepened my understanding of what it takes to produce health-promoting, tasty food, bursting with life and kind to the environment. Community biodynamic farming is THE recipe for success. An ethical, sustainable farming model, it respects the soil, plants and animals. It has made an enormous difference to my family's health as well as the recommendations I extend to those who seek my expertise.
Cheap food is expensive food; it offers no value for money and is the main contributor to ill-health, obesity and behavioural issues. In contrast, Biodynamic farming is the Rolls Royce of organic food. Becoming involved with the Coop Committee and fundraising for farm projects was the least I could do to show my deep appreciation for the work the Farms do on a daily basis to safeguard and promote healthy, sustainable food production and community relationships.
As the Coop Newsletter Editor, I can put the enthusiasm and passion I feel about this amazing work into an easily accessible format for the public. Our quarterly Newsletter gives a glimpse of the beauty and magic woven into the hard work that produces such vibrant results and you can download previous copies here.
Robert Mensinga, Committee Member
Robert was born and brought up in The Netherlands. He has been living in the UK for over 25 yrs of which the last 20 in Forest Row where his children went to Michael Hall School. He has attended various courses and workshops at Emerson College including Visual Arts and Storytelling. He has retired from an international business career in shipping and finance in the course of which he travelled all over the world.
He is currently focusing on his pottery and art at his own studio in West Hoathly. Robert has been the Secretary of the Coop for the last five years and has recently handed the baton over to Elle Fox. He remains a valuable and hugely insightful member of the Coop Committee.
(*) The Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Farm Cooperative is facilitated by a Committee elected from the shareholder base. The members of the Coop Committee are all shareholders and volunteer their time and expertise to support and oversee the smooth running of the Farms. We get involved in and support project fundraising, talks, farm open days and celebrations, advertising and PR and a variety of other functions whose core aim is to help our farms in a variety of ways. We always welcome new Committee members and would be delighted to hear from you if you have time and skills you would like to contribute. Please get in touch with any one of the Committee members via our Contact Form.