A number of people help with the Biodynamic Land Trust’s operation. Key people are those on our Board of volunteer directors which governs the organisation, and our operations manager who assists the Board.
Board of Directors
Ian Nicholson – Chair
Ian Nicholson is an experienced IT professional having spent over 30 years in the UK financial sector and government departments. He brings in-depth experience working in highly competitive, cost-focused, political and rapidly-changing environments. Ian has also developed and implemented corporate service strategies and delivered effective solutions through process, people and systems innovation. These were to meet both customer and business needs.
A communications consultant and community activist, Stella Parkes has supported the environmental charity Stroud Valleys Project for over thirty years. As the corporate communications manager for South Gloucestershire Council, Stella acted as a spokesperson and wrote the communications strategy. She also briefed and trained council officers and Councillors, and was responsible for reputation management. This ensured a positive profile for the council, its services and policies, locally, regionally, and nationally.
Lucas Schoemaker has been a director of Stroud Common Wealth for over 18 years. This has generated new forms of social, community stewardship of housing, land, finance and resources. He is an experienced organisational developer, building value-driven funding cases and public presence of projects. Lucas achieves this through networking, news items and publicity material. He uses interpersonal, communication and financial skills to ensure financial viability and developmental needs are met. Lucas is also a Town Councillor for Stroud.
Chris Stockdale is a biodynamic farmer in Herefordshire, where, with his wife, family and neighbourly support, he keeps cattle, sheep and plants trees.. He is former Chair of the Biodynamic Association Council and also Vice Chair of the European Livestock Alliance. Chris brings his long experience of farming, working as a trustee, and in other types of caring organisations. He was formerly the Custodian Trustee representative on the Board for the Biodynamic Association.
Jon Nicholls started his career in agriculture but as someone who doesn’t come from a farming background, found it difficult to earn a living from the land and changed his career to one in Finance. He has held several senior finance positions within Local Authority and in industry and brings to Trust a range of skills which include: Marketing, HR, Strategy, logistics etc. He currently runs his own consultancy practice where he advises businesses on growth strategies and financial issues. Jon is also a volunteer mentor for several Universities and holds other Non-Executive positions with innovative business organisations and humanitarian groups.
For over 25 years Minni Jain has been working with communities to regenerate their landscapes and lives. As Operations Director of the Flow Partnership (www.theflowpartnership.org), she works on community-led management of floods and droughts using simple, low-cost traditional methods. She coordinates Waterways World– a practical water school of landscape regeneration skills and methods to achieve replenishment of the world’s water bank and has helped set up the One Pond Fund to enable communities worldwide to resource their water projects. Her skills are in partnership building at all levels and together, achieving shared community objectives.
Guest Directors attend board meetings over a period of six months with the prospect of becoming full directors. While their input is invaluable and hugely appreciated, they have no vote until co-opted on as full board members.
If you would like to consider becoming a director please read the New Directors Policy.
Gabriel Kaye – Society Secretary
Gabriel Kaye has been an administrator/manager to associations, schools and similar organisations for many years. She has built a wealth of expertise in these areas. Gabriel has also been a trainer and consultant in organisational structures, charity requirements, administration and management for Steiner Schools. She was born on a biodynamic farm and is a keen biodynamic gardener. Gabriel has worked for the Biodynamic Association in Certification and is now its Executive Director. A co-founder of the Biodynamic Land Trust, she has also held a number of executive roles for the organisation. Gabriel stepped down from the Board in November 2020 after serving three terms of three years as a director.
Amber Lawes-Johnson – Communications & Development Officer
Amber Lawes-Johnson is a food systems professional, with extensive practical experience of sustainable farming systems as well as a deep understanding of the social, political and environmental challenges we face across local and global food and farming systems. Through the completion of her Food and Development Masters and research-based consultancy work for a number of environmental charities, Amber has in-depth experience of carrying out research, policy evaluation, synthesising data and communicating knowledge to multiple audiences. Amber is also currently completing a PhD in the UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training and is focusing on regenerative livestock systems, animal welfare and environmental change within an interdisciplinary framework and analysing its place in British nutritional security and citizen health.
Martin Neicho – Operations Manager
Martin Neicho’s early career was based in the charity sector, where he managed numerous small enterprises/projects to offer opportunities to disadvantaged groups of people. Since, he has moved into the entrepreneurial sector, setting up a small production and retail company with his wife producing bespoke organic soaps. Following this, Martin branched into the Farming sector in the late 90s and obtained a BSc in horticulture in 1999 and became a legal advisor to businesses in the agricultural/horticultural field. His breadth of experience in this sector has led to him co-authoring consultant manuals used by ADAS consultants along with producing reports on the storage of organic crops for the Ministry of Fisheries and Food (MAFF – now DEFRA).