The OTB is delighted to announce the five shortlisted nominees for the Oak Award 2018. These individuals have been selected for their pioneering work in the field of organic and sustainability. Their endeavours have created a lasting positive impact on the organic landscape.
The award will be presented at a prestigious fundraising event for Organic Research Centre held at the stunning Yeo Valley Canteen on 25 October, see here for more information. Most places have been booked and there are just a few remaining, if you would like to book, click here by 12 midnight on 17 October.
Over the past 20 years Julie has been working tirelessly to support small-scale organic farmers through strategic work as well as practically through the Growing Communities fruit and veg box scheme and farmers’ market – the only all-organic weekly farmers’ market in the UK. She contributes towards the research and campaigning work of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, and The Landworkers’ Alliance.
As the head of a social enterprise, Julie leads on investing profits to further the larger sustainable food movement, such as the Ecological Land Co-operative to help them expand the land available to small-scale organic farmers.
Susie Hewson has been a pioneering force in organic since 1989 when she created an organic feminine hygiene company after seeing a documentary about the growing danger to human health and the environment of Dioxin pollution from pulping industries. As a lifelong environmentalist, her aim was to develop an alternative that respected women’s bodies and our planet. Natracare is the world’s first alternative to conventionally produced menstrual products – including the world’s first certified organic cotton tampons and plastic-free sanitary pads and panty liners. Susie campaigned since 2000 to have organic personal care standards for feminine hygiene, eventually succeeding with GOTS v5. All of their menstrual, incontinence and baby care products use only organic and natural materials and they have a commitment to the highest ethical standards whether focussed on organic principles and compostability.
Anthony Snell and his wife Christine farm just under 500 acres at their Windmill Hill Farm, near Ross-on-Wye. Growing over 100 acres of Soil Association certified organic blackcurrants, the business is the UK’s largest supplier to this specialised sector. With hedgerow and tree planting, over 120 bird next boxes, water recycling, solar PV and integrated pest management, Anthony is keen to manage the environment sustainably and regularly hosts visitors for LEAF Open Farm Sunday as well as local schools. The business was awarded ‘UK Soft Fruit Grower of the Year’ for 2016 and overall ‘Edible Grower of the Year’. Anthony is a member of the Soil Association, Farmer and Grower Board and Chairman of the IB (International Blackcurrant Association) 2016-2018.
Alex Smith is the founder of Alara Wholefoods and a pioneer in the health and organic sector. In 1975 Alex set started his business with £2 and a commitment to sustainable food. On this journey he achieved many “firsts” for Alara, including the first cereal manufacturer to be certified organic in the world, the first company to be certified gluten free, the first to be certified fair trade and the UK’s first zero waste food manufacturer. Now, many believe Alara to be the most sustainable food manufacturer in the world and Alex is on a new mission to inspire people to choose delicious and sustainable food; protecting the health of individuals as well as the planet.
Andrew Wilkinson converted his farm business Gilchesters to organic production in 2002 (farming at Gilchesters began in 1992) and established the organic cereal research programme for Newcastle University’s Nafferton Ecological Farming group in 2003 (NEFG). Long term cereal variety and soil fertility trials continue to be conducted at Gilchesters in conjunction with many international research partners to the present day, see here for more information.
With construction of their own flour mill, Gilchesters Organics, established in 2003, provides stone-ground organic flour directly to artisan bakeries, chefs and home bakers throughout the UK. From his experiences in farming, milling and organic crop research, Andrew continues to promote sustainable, local production systems for UK producers through better cereal variety choice and short food chain networks.