Our current team:

Jeremy Iles, Founder – Director Jeremy started “doing something useful” as a cycle campaigner at Friends of the Earth in 1983, and then became the first Director of the London Wildlife Trust when he was 27. He worked in Bangladesh and Eritrea for VSO, and on returning to the UK became Regional Manager for Sustrans in the 90’s.

In 2000 he joined the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens as CEO until 2016.  Many of the projects and partnerships he initiated  during this period have had a significant and long lasting impact nationally, including  the Allotments Regeneration Initiative (2002-2014),  the £57m Local Food Consortium (2002-2014), Community Land Advisory Service, and the Growing Together partnership (2014-16).

Jeremy is the instigator and joint coordinator of the Urban Agriculture Consortium, and is part of The Oral History of Environment Movement project with Royal Holloway University which is starting in autumn 2022. He has an NVQ5 (Management) & graduated from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (2019). ​

Jeremy lives in Bristol, grows food on an allotment, sings with The Island Folk, and plays guitar & mandola with the All@Sea ceilidh band. Jeremy is a qualified Yachtmaster and dinghy instructor. ​

The Urban Agriculture Consortium team

These wonderful associates are coming together to add value to our work and enable communities and groups across the UK to progress their nature friendly agrocecology aspirations

Maddy Longhurst – Maddy has always followed her instincts to work on initiatives and ideas that lie in the fertile margins and serve future generations. Recently this has involved the protection of land and soils, community-led thermal imaging of cold homes, Ecosystem Restoration Design, creating regenerative Tiny House Settlements, Sociocracy and Gleaning training for communities. Maddy worked on Phase 1 of the urban agriculture project in 2019 and is currently coordinating the Urban Agriculture Consortium with Jeremy.

She has studied Ecosystem Restoration Design with Gaia Education, did a degree in Town and Country Planning, is a Community Organiser (level3), believes in the healing power of nature for all types of human dis-ease, and finds her joy in the sea, the sky, sit-spots, fires, singing, brambling, unexplainable community wisdom, her daughter Martha, Rilke and Ursula K Le Guin.

Dr Elizabeth Westaway –  Elizabeth Westaway is Co-Founder and Director of Growing Real Food for Nutrition CIC (Grffn) She is an international public health nutrition specialist, who has worked since 1995 as a practitioner, researcher and consultant in academia, non-governmental organisations and the United Nations on health, nutrition, food security and agriculture projects in emergency and development contexts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Elizabeth has a PhD in International Development from the University of East Anglia, UK and interests in community-based nutrition, healthy and sustainable diets, food quality, nutrition security, food systems, agroecology, regenerative organic agriculture, permaculture, livelihoods and poverty reduction. 

Janie Bickersteth

Janie Bickersteth has been growing food in an urban context since she was a child, learning alongside her father on a sloping piece of land in the Medway Towns. Her
lifelong commitment to environmental activism honed in on food around fifteen years ago, with the establishment of a primary school veg bed in Durham City, two
community gardens in Singapore and latterly as Chair and Coordinator of Incredible Edible Lambeth (IEL), in South London. Her interest in mapping stems from more than
a decade of guidebook writing in Southeast Asia; without a map people were, quite literally, lost. In Lambeth, she helped create ‘green space’ maps, promoting community food growing and encouraging people to discover their (green) neighbourhoods. She is currently working on a collaborative project between IEL and Arup, employing participatory mapping to support community urban food growing and ensure it benefits those most in need. Janie is helping to coordinate our food land mappers community of practice.

Dr Simon Ruston

Dr Simon Ruston –Simon is a chartered town planner who holds a Doctorate in planning law. He has over a decade experience of both case and policy work relating to land use for agroecology, sustainable forestry and travelling people. He has also written a number of guides on these subjects in England, Wales and Scotland. He has provided expert evidence in the higher courts and has made a number of appearances at Local Plan inquiries.

Bethan McIroy

Bethan McIlroy– Nottingham farmstarts, midland cluster facilitator – more text to followB

GFA Directors

Clare Hanson-Kahn – Clare is a communications and fundraising specialist, working in the 3rd sector. She also works as a humanist celebrant leading funerals and weddings. She has a personal interest in food growing, and is the founder member of a local community garden. She has been nurturing her own allotment for 20 plus years

John Newton – Environmental Consultant John Newton founded The Ecology Consultancy in 1999, of which he was the Managing Director until 2016. John’s early career was as nature reserve warden in Norfolk and Suffolk. In the early 1980s he became Conservation Officer at the London Wildlife Trust, where he worked with Jeremy. Now retired.

Mary Stevens

Mary Stevens – Mary is the Experiments Programme Manager at Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland). Her role is all about bringing to life the new ideas that can help tackle the climate and nature emergencies. She previously worked at Defra, where in her last role she was Head of Strategy, Partnerships and Local Flood Risk Management in the floods policy team. Mary has a particular interest in applying innovation to support the emergence of more resilient local communities, and combines curiosity about theory with a hands-on approach to local action. She holds a postgraduate qualification from the Open University in systems thinking for environmental decision-making and manging innovation, and a PhD in cultural heritage studies from University College London.