Meet the Team

Helen Woodcock

Helen Woodcock

Helen co-founded MERCi - Manchester's first Centre for Sustainable Living,  helping to raise over three million pounds and project managing the refurbishment of the five storey mill. Helen's expertise is in grassroots community development – helping to establish projects including fruit & vegetable delivery service HERBIE in East Manchester as well as supporting a number of community projects in Ancoats - and helping win a Britian In Bloom Urban Regeneration award.

Helen spent 2005/06 in Guatemala working with Peace Brigades International, jointly winning the International Service Human Rights Award For Women in 2006 with Guatemalan activist Dominga Vasquez . Hear her interview on Radio 4's Women's Hour.

In July 2010 Helen was awarded Master of Science in Organic Farming at distinction level from the Scottish Agricultural College. The MSc project was titled 'Finding a sustainable food system for Manchester: Exploring a successful trading model to increase access to sustainable fruit and vegetables in Greater Manchester'.

Between 2010 and 2012 Helen put her research to practical use, using the lessons learnt to support the development of Manchester Veg People, a new co-operative of local organic growers and buyers, in order to to expand the market for sustainable food in Greater Manchester. Helen continues to support MVP both as a grower member of the committee and working on the sustainable public sector menus project.

In 2013 she was instrumental in establishing Kindling's FarmStart project and, with Chris and Corrina, is learning about stockfree production on 1/4 of an acre. This year (2014) Helen is concentrating on establishing Kindling's ultimate aim of buying a large farm near Greater Manchester.

Chris Walsh

Chris Walsh.

Co-founder of MERCi and Fairfield Materials Management, Chris is an accomplished social entrepreneur, also instrumental in establishing Debdale Eco Centre, Manchester Social Enterprise Forum and the Fuelling Manchester network. He worked for The Ethical Property Company to help set up the Green Fish centre in Manchester and played a role in establishing Greater Manchester’s first Tree Station - processing arboricultural waste into sustainable bio-mass.

His work at the Kindling Trust is focused on creating systematic change in the food system to make it truly sustainable. Through the Feeding Stockport partnership, Chris was instrumental in the Greater Manchester borough becoming one of only six UK cities to be funded through the Sustainable Food Cities Network. He also helped facilitate the development of a Greater Manchester Sustainable Food Strategy.

In late 2013, Chris spent five weeks in Australia sharing information on some of Greater Manchester’s pioneering co-operative food solutions (see his blog). Having formed lasting relationships with likeminded food innnovators down under, he is an active member of the UK branch of the Open Food Network.

From the Summer of 2014 he will be progressing Kindling's long-term aim of establishing a farm close to Greater Manchester. In the meantime, he also grows veg commercially (part-time) at FarmStart Abbey Leys.

Emily Farrow

Emily Farrow with baby son Ezra.

Emily is a doctor presently working as a GP in London. She has extensive experience of working within disadvantaged and deprived communities. She has taught refugee doctors preparing them for exams to enable them to work in the UK and she has worked with torture survivors at Freedom from Torture  - The Medical Foundation for the care of victims of torture. Emily is currently studying for an Msc in Global Public Health and Policy.

Fiona Dunk

Fiona Dunk

Fiona is the Forgotten Field's Project Co-ordinator and has been responsible for the delivery of this food heritage project over the last two years, having worked with the Kindling Trust to develop food heritage initiatives with communities in Whalley Range, Cheetham Hill and Norris Bank, Stockport.

Fiona has 15 years experience of community development and education work in Manchester, focused on sustainable development issues - running food, inter-generational and heritage projects.

Fiona is also a trustee of Ashton Under Lyne's Wooden Canal Boat Society.

Corrina Low

Corrina Low

Since moving to Manchester in 2008, Corrina has worked on a number of community food projects, including the Herbie Fruit and Veg van project and the ‘Whalley Range Grow Your Own’ community allotment.

Corrina worked for the charity MERCi for 3 years and was involved in a broad range of work including seeking to establish a more sustainable food supply for deprived areas of Manchester, promoting low-impact living, including recycling and sustainable transport and highlighting the need for more fair-trade.

Corrina has lots of experience of volunteer work, having volunteered with Action for Sustainable Living and most recently spending most of 2012 volunteering through WWOOF on a number of organic farms and markets gardens in the Netherlands and Wales.

Through this experience of working on organic farms, and participating in the Kindling Trust's Commercial Organic Horticulture course, Corrina has also gained a good understanding of the work involved in running a small-scale food growing business and the needs of the growers.

Her role within Kindling is to co-ordinate the Land Army and support volunteers as well as being the Allotment and Gardening Co-ordinator at Tameside, Oldham and Glossop Mind.

Jemma Hynes

Jemma Hynes

Kindling’s Feeding Stockport Co-ordinator Jemma lives and works in Stockport. She is a Food Scientist and Vice Chair of the North of England Branch of the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

She previously worked at the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds, working on business development and employability enhancement within the food industry, public and third sectors. Before that Jemma worked with hundreds of businesses in the Greater Manchester region to successfully manage projects on everything from procurement, preparation, production and food offering in order to improve the health and sustainability of the food system in and around Wigan.

Jemma also contributed to guidance produced by the Food Standards Agency, the Department of Health and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities on healthier catering practices. Jemma has worked across the food system from family businesses to national manufacturers and is keen to help Stockport's food system evolve to improve the borough's food security for the years ahead.

Debbie Clarke

Debbie Clarke

Debs has been a member of Unicorn Grocery  workers co-operative in Chorlton for the past ten years, working in various areas of the business and specialising in education and marketing. This role ranges from working on marketing strategy to looking after Unicorn’s social media, website, customer communications, campaigns, media and events.

She also manages Unicorn’s charitable funds, and has developed long-term relationships between Unicorn and various food projects in the global south, including the El Salvador Permaculture Institute whom she visited in 2008.  Debs has helped produce Unicorn’s ‘Grow a Grocery’ guide (a free toolkit developed to help others set up worker co-op groceries along similar lines), and through Unicorn has been involved in providing support to start-up co-ops.

Debs is a founder member of fruit harvesting project Abundance Manchester, and runs their Kenworthy Orchard project, restoring and maintaining a community orchard in South Manchester. She worked for nearly two years as North West Food Co-ops Advisor for Sustain as part of the Making Local Food Work programme, and is currently working with others to establish the Wholefood Shops Action Network, which aims to support shops in their role as hubs in the movement for a better food system.

Having worked informally with Kindling over the past five years, Debs became a director in 2013 and an employee in 2014, working on external communications. She hopes to assist with Kindling’s goal to establish a farm near Greater Manchester.

Sonya Lopez

Sonya Lopez

Sonya has long been interested and affected, both personally and professionally, in sustainability issues and has a burgeoning interest in sustainable food systems and practices.

She has a strong background in urban planning and worked for nearly eight years on projects aimed at changing urban development patterns in response to population growth, traffic issues, and environmental concerns.

Her goal is to continue to use her past knowledge and experience towards the development of the sustainable food sector and agenda and is currently working with like minded folks at The Kindling Trust and other social enterprises. Sonya is also very passionate about the local food economy and is hoping to soon start-up a mushroom growing workers co-operative.

Steve Cunio

Steve Cunio
Steve currently supports the Kindling Trust in a financial capacity, maintaining the books, streamlining paperless systems and preparing budget reports for all Project Co-ordinators.
Steve continues to work with other ethical organisations, supporting Greater Manchester TreeStation and Manchester Veg People from Quickbooks accounting to website deployment and Google Apps management.
Steve graduated from the University of Salford in 1996 with a first class honours in IT.  He ran his own website company for eight years supporting environmental, community, alternative health and educational customers.
In his own time, Steve enjoys leisurely cycling, playing guitar, swimming and cooking his own plant based wholefood refined-sugar-free meals.

Nina Dales

Nina Dales

Nina has been working in the Third Sector for over 10 years, developing and delivering projects and community enterprise initiatives, all with the aim of improving environmental and economic sustainability through community engagement. Previous to this, she was a teacher and mentor for young adults and was instrumental in developing the National E2E (Entry to Employment) programme. 

She met The Kindling Trust 4 years ago, whilst exploring local food systems for The Plunkett Foundation as part of the ‘Making Local Food Work’ programme. As a community facilitator, she went on to support clusters of community food enterprises across England to collaborate and strengthen their local food systems.

Nina is helping to promote Kindling’s work, organising events, activities and exploring new routes to market for sustainable produce. 

She has a passion for empowering communities to take action and ownership of the things that are important to them and is presently developing a new social enterprise which aims to support local producers. 

Alex Firman

Alex is the FarmStart Co-ordinator, helping to organise the teaching programme and manage the FarmStart site. 
He has been involved in commercial organic growing for the past four years, mainly in Wales and the South West, and has recently completed a two year apprenticeship through the Soil Association on a commercial organic farm in the Cotswolds. After several further months of learning about organic growing and incubators farms in the USA, he has achieved the lifelong goal of getting involved with growing in the north.
Alex’s passion is for growing veg for himself and other people and he's enthusiastic about getting other people in local-scale production. He would cheerfully see Manchester ringed by market gardens.

The Kindling Trust is a not for profit social enterprise with charitable aims (Company number: 6136029).
Kindling Trust Ltd - Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 7HR