Who’s at the farm

Dan Burston

Joint Head Grower

I began my country life in 2009 when I left Bristol on a bicycle. Some time WWOOFing, working and travelling led me to discover that I found great pleasure in the agricultural life, and working hard within the unrelenting seasonal cycles of the year. An apprenticeship opportunity arose in 2010 at Embercombe, and I spent a year, under the mentorship of Jo Clark, learning and growing food for a busy land-based education centre and working with countless people along the way. That was it for me – growing veg was something I would do forever, and the land was a place that should be busy with people. I worked a further 3 years at Embercombe as lead grower, before moving on to work at Chagfood – my first proper experience of CSA, and of a commercial growing operation. After 4 great years on the moor, I moved south, to live with Hannah, my wife, and to start a family. I began working at School Farm in the pestilential turbulence of spring 2020. The farm’s small scale, community engagement, and focus on excellent veg continues to speak to me.  Around the farm, my particular interests are in compost production, growing seed crops, putting on seasonal open days, and all things chicory.

Photo credit Emma Stoner

Richard Ainslie

Joint Head Grower

I worked a few jobs in the farming world, including a couple of stints on an arable farm and a sheep station in Australia, without ever considering it seriously. It was after finishing university during lockdown that I realised a desk job would never work for me, so I went WWOOFing, and ended up on Wave Hill regenerative farm near Kingsbridge. Within two weeks I knew I never wanted to do anything else. From there I joined the Apricot Centre Level 3 traineeship and worked a year at Jim’s Organic Veg in North Devon where I started to learn the joys of seasonality, growing food and traditional countryside skills such as hedge laying and green woodwork. After that year, I came to School Farm as a trainee, and have fallen in love with the community here. I have now taken over as Joint Head Grower, and am very excited to carry on growing veg, producing seed, and fostering a place where people can have a relationship with their food that goes well beyond just eating it.

Mike Cooper

Community Lead

I came into the world of food growing from glaciology, having spent nearly a decade researching the impacts of climate change. During several escapes from the ‘real world’ I spent time WWOOFing in Sweden, becoming entrenched in food growing communities, learning about subsistence farming and traditional food production methods from cheesemaking to charcuterie. These stays made me increasingly aware of how our global food system has become disconnected from the land, from people, and from community. Believing that fundamental change could only happen working on the ground and with community, I left academia and decided to move to Devon where I would start my farming journey. I first came to School Farm CSA as part of the Schumacher grower’s course in 2021 and found it to be a place that deeply resonated with me. Early in 2023 I joined the team as an assistant grower and in 2024 became the Community Lead, heading-up volunteering days, planning events, and running workshops too!

Mel Harvey


I have worked with growing food and environmental education for over 15 years, much inspired by a feral childhood in a walled garden and holidays spent volunteering on organic farms. I started off at the research and information end of the organic movement with my first job at Garden Organic (then HDRA) in the International Programme. Looking for more direct experience of the soil I started to get my hands dirty working as a Forest School leader and environmental playworker at the Centre for Alternative Technology, as well as free-lance gardening. Another shift brought me to study and work in practical horticulture and food growing in Devon and since 2012 I have been working with the team at School Farm, helping to set up the Community Supported Agriculture scheme. Alongside this I have worked with many local organisations, sharing training and skills in practical horticulture, composting and herb growing with a wide range of ages and groups, from school groups to adult learners. I also run Wyse Worts herb and wildflower plant nursery based on site, as well as training as a medical herbalist.


Many hands make light work, so they say. Our volunteers who come every Thursday have proved this old proverb many times, and we are incredibly lucky to have so many kind and generous people giving their time and energy to the farm. Their involvement is essential to what we do as a CSA: we aim to share the joys of growing food and connecting with the land as widely as we can. Our volunteers take part in the best possible way – by working alongside us to sow, plant, weed and water the veg. We have people who come when they can, and people who haven’t missed a Thursday for years. Every one of them makes the farm a warmer, friendlier place, and makes the biscuit tin that little bit lighter! Join us on a volunteer day


This could be you!

Every year we host a trainee and train them throughout the growing season. They are involved in all aspects of running the market garden, including propagation, cultivation, fertility management, crop care, harvesting, and maintenance of infrastructure. This is an excellent learning opportunity for someone who wants to go on to run a market garden or work in community gardening.
There is also the possibility of doing the traineeship as part of one of the Apricot Center’s courses.

Our directors

As a Community Interest Company we have a board of directors to steer the ship, and hold the vision and mission of the farm. Our directorship is made up of current and past employees as well as long-standing volunteers. Together we have a range of skills, and a shared commitment to see the farm serve the local community.

In addition to our permanent staff (above), our team includes:

Aidan Vey

Aidan joined School Farm in early 2018 after working his way up from attending a six-month practical residency to becoming assistant gardener at Schumacher College. With a particular interest in wildlife-friendly farming, Aidan brought specific attention to reducing our reliance on brought-in resources, focusing on how to grow and manage our fertility on-site. In 2022, Aidan set out to launch Green Ginger Organics (part of the Baddaford Collective) but remained involved with School Farm.

Photo credit Fern Leigh Albert

Nicky Gibbins

Nicky has been an organic grower for over two decades and has worked in a variety of different settings. She joined School Farm in 2018 to work alongside Mel and Aidan as one of the main growers. An active member of the South West seed savers network, she saved seed at School Farm to share and increase the number of organic vegetable varieties available to our local growers. After 6 years, Nicky stepped down at the end of 2023 but remains involved with the farm as a director.

Photo credit Emma Stoner

Pritam Singh

Pritam joined us as a director in 2023, after having spent two years as a regular volunteer. An entrepreneur, Pritam spent most of his professional life running Anokhi, an artisanal textile business based in Jaipur, India. With the intention of feeding his employees local organic food, he set up a ten acre market garden as well as an organic cafe. Recent spells in climate activism and study at Schumacher colleague in Regenerative Farming practices have led him back to farming, and brought him to us!

Photo credit Emma Stoner

Lucca Benney

Lucca first came to School Farm in 2012 when Duchy College ran part of the Sustainable Horticulture diploma here. Since then she has been involved in various different ways, as a work-share member helping with the harvest since 2015, taking over management of the orchard in 2019, supplying us with endless fun veg graphics as seen on some of our posters and in 2023 joining us on the board of directors.

Photo credit Emma Stoner

Our neighbours

Old School Farm is a beautiful tucked away spot on the Dartington Estate, in the shadow of the old Foxhole School. Today, a number of enterprises call the site home, and we make up a community who interact and support each other in various ways. We are lucky to call the following organisations (and their wonderful humans) our neighbours:

Foxhole Community Garden

Zoe runs a thriving social and therapeutic horticultural garden, offering a range of courses and sessions for the local community. Learn more

Wyse Worts

Mel, one of our esteemed directors, also runs a plant nursery, where she propagates an always interesting range of wild, medicinal, and culinary plants. Learn more

Flower Project

Amy grows gorgeous flowers – organic, seasonal, and for all occasions. Learn more

Food in Community

Every week the team at Food in Community rescues and sorts surplus fresh fruit and vegetables, and delivers boxes to charities and community groups in and around Totnes. A super impressive business with a wonderful bunch of staff and volunteers, always keeping a bit of bustle around the place. Learn more

Radical Plant Folk

A cultural garden, a herb garden. A place for people to come together and share experiences. Learn more

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