Meet the Team

Clare Hawkins – CEO

Clare joined the Farm in 2017, following 9 years working at the Whitechapel Gallery. Throughout a varied career, she has taken a special lead in employability and access, and has a passion for creative community projects and spaces. Clare first moved to Tower Hamlets in 2002 but her family roots are in the east end, with her grandparents born a stones’ throw from the Farm. 

Clare has been a member of the Government organised Local Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (LAAN) for London since 2014, and is also currently on the Board of Creative & Cultural Skills. She holds an MSc in Charity Financial Management, and a BA in Fine Art. She has previously worked in business banking at the Royal Bank of Scotland; as an English Language teacher in Tokyo; and has volunteered with organisations including Vital Regeneration, and the London Bubble Theatre Company.

Alex Collings – Farm Education OfficerIMG_4669

Alex is passionate about creating a fairer food system by reconnecting communities with food. She joined the team in November 2013 to coordinate a number of our farm education projects for young people including curriculum linked workshops, Farm tours, ‘Incubators for Schools’, family fun days, work experience, and the Young Volunteers programme. Alex is also our Child Protection Officer. When she’s not at the Farm, Alex runs Get Growing, a social enterprise that trains people how to grow food in the city.

Alex works Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday afternoon.

Amy Goldstraw – Café Assistant Amy copy

It seems it was fate that Amy would become the face of Stepney City Farm’s cafe. She started volunteering in April 2013 and found herself helping build the cafe she would later work at. Coffee Maestro and Baking Queen, Amy is a well known figure in these parts. When not at work, she can often be found painting, both herself and small figurines.

Amy works Wednesday-Sunday.

Ana Vadeanu – Corporate Relations ManagerAna Website

Ana started volunteering at the Farm in November 2014 with The Greenwood Guild and was with them for a year before helping start the Farm’s Plant Shop. In February 2016 she joined the staff as Corporate Relations Manager and is thrilled to be part of such an amazing team. Before her time at the Farm, Ana worked at an urban planning organization in the Caribbean and managed composting projects during her university days in Montreal. In her free time, Ana enjoys learning how to make things and loves exploring London by bike or on foot.

Ana works Tuesday-Friday.

Emmanuel Benedetti 

Emmanuel joined the team in October 2014, working one day per week.

Highly experienced, he was Financial Director of a printing company for over 20 years and left in 2012 when the company was put up for sale. After a two year break, decided to offer financial accounting assistance to charities and now works for a number of not-for-profits organisations.

He says working with Stepney City Farm, brings some pleasant experiences – “Uninvited cockerels and cats walking over your keyboard looking for food, and live baby music being played every Friday morning. What a privilege to work in these surroundings and with such a dedicated team!”

Emmanuel works on Friday.

Hannah Leigh Mackie – Environmental Educator & Food Grower

Hannah joined the Education team to expand the schools programme into food growing and Environmental Education.  At the Farm she runs workshops for primary school children on environmental and practical issues and gets kids and young people to get their hands dirty and grow food. Having trained at Growing Communities Patchwork Farm as an urban food grower and salad specialist, she also works on the Garden team here at the farm to support the plant shop and bountiful garden harvests.

Hannah works Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Merlin Strangeway – Furry Tales Outreach Lead


Merlin joined the team in October 2016 and is gutted to be pipped to the post for title of first Wizard on the farm (an honour awarded to Wizard the Farm cat). Working 2 days a week, Merlin delivers the outreach Furry Tales packages; taking the Farm’s furrys into day care centres, older peoples’ organisations and NHS services. Her long standing love of animals and outreach engagement seems to have landed her the world’s best job!
When not on the Farm, Merlin is an award-winning illustrator and educator. She has spent the last ten years running intergenerational outreach projects which explore issues of community, creativity and memory making. She is currently completing her training as a Medical Artist in conjunction with the Royal College of Surgeons and holds the post of Medical Illustrator at The Harley Street Hospital.

Merlin works Monday and Wednesday.

Roger Kennedy – Café Assistant Re

Roger (known as Reb) joined the Café team in the summer of 2014, making the transition from part time customer to part time staff member. Having grown up and lived his entire life just down the road from the Farm, Roger has been a fan of the Farm since his childhood. When he isn’t dressed up in some kind of anachronistic outfit and brandishing a toy sword dramatically, he spends his time painting wargame miniatures.

Reb works Wednesday-Friday afternoons and Saturday-Sunday.

Shelagh Martin – Food Grower

Shelagh has been at the Farm since January 2017. Prior to that she was the full time grower for Growing Communities on their farm in Dagenham where she continues to work part time. Passionate about food and changing food systems she has also worked for the growing communities organic veg box scheme and as an organic cook – starting a loosely formed cooking collective called Hackney Growers Kitchen in 2012 with two other growers who equally loved cooking.

She grew up in the Oxfordshire country side and always knew she wanted to be a farmer some day but was torn between doing that and wanting to write and perform. Deciding to do the latter first she spent 15 years as a stand up comedian. In her student days she was an animal rights activist and hunt saboteur. When not growing cooking and eating she continues to renovate her dilapidated house in Hackney.

Shelagh works Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Tom Goody – Farmyard Managertom website

Tom started at Stepney at the very end of 2016 and has lived in southeast London his whole life. Having come from a family of teachers and office people, farming seemed unlikely. However, growing up with a passion for animals from a young age came from visiting Godstone Farm and he later found work experience at Surrey Docks City Farm. Tom continued on as a volunteer whilst at school and college and eventually became Farm Apprentice in 2014. After finishing the apprenticeship in 2016, he worked on a sheep farm lambing 5000 ewes and helped out as a sessional member of staff and Mobile Farm Operator at Surrey Docks City Farm. Outside the Farm, Tom is a keen motorbike enthusiast and keeps a small collection of reptiles and a flock of chickens.

Tom works Tuesday-Saturday.

Rural Artists

Jessica Joslin – Pottery and Ceramics
Barn the Spoon and The Green Wood Guild – Woodwork
Stitches in Time – Textiles

Board of Trustees

Jo Pertwee – Co-Chair

1235010_10151819690176705_500429723_n (1)Jo is an HR and retail professional and mother of young children. Originally from Norfolk, the farm provides her and her family with the opportunity to give something back to the local community whilst enabling her to reconnect with her rural roots. With over 15 years HR and charity, CIC and commercial experience, Jo takes the lead on HR policy on the farm and provides additional commercial and strategic support.

Thuy Ho Preuveneers

T_20150910_185608huy spent 13 years working in IT Consulting and Finance before taking a career break to raise her two children, which is when she joined the team at the Farm as Company Secretary. Since returning to full-time employment in Banking in 2013, she has concentrated on organising children’s parties at the Farm and assisting with governance and finance matters. As she is a committee member of the Tower Hamlets National Childbirth Trust, she also liaises with organisations and local families with young children.

Tor Park – Co-Chair 

FullSizeRender (1)Tor first visited the Farm in August 2011, loved it, and became a trustee later that year. A Tower Hamlets resident since 2007, Tor previously served on the boards of a local housing association and a global software company based in the City. She brings nearly 20 years of marketing and communications experience to the farm and leads the Communications Committee. Tor is keen to raise the profile of the farm within both the local and wider London communities.

Richard Thomas lsRichard Thomas

Richard is a Barrister in chambers-with-a-social-conscience. In his spare time Richard travels to disadvantaged parts of the world in order to offer legal advice. He leads on legal issues. He has been a Trustee since the current charity was established in 2009.

Bessie Venables

bessieBessie is originally Australian but has been a Londoner for 21 years. She is a mother of two and a local community psychiatrist, with an additional specialisation in psychotherapy. She has interests in forging useful links between the statutory, voluntary and private sectors as well as in fundraising. Bessie has worked with rough sleepers in central London with severe mental illness and has extensive training in management and leadership, including at the Kings’ Fund. She has been a Trustee since the current charity was established in 2009.

Josh Strycharczyk

JoshJosh started volunteering at the Farm in September 2004 aged eleven and the other volunteers have not yet found a way of getting rid of him. Growing up in Hackney Wick and then Redbridge, he became a trustee in 2010. He has since started university to study veterinary medicine. Josh’s particular interests on the farm lie in animal husbandry and food production, although he is always keen to turn his hand to the next challenge. When not in East London or Cambridge, he is probably lambing in the Northumberland hills or seeing practice across the UK.

Tori Flower

toriTori lives next to the farm, has been a regular volunteer since 2012 and became a trustee in 2014. She is Creative Director of the social enterprise Shift, designing consumer products which have a positive effect on social and environmental issues, and has a background in the advertising industry. She helps the farm with their communications and enjoys growing vegetables.

Charlotte moved to Stepney in 2014 and became a trustee at the Farm shortly afterwards. She is a chartered accountant, and trained as an auditor specialising in charities before moving to work in the charity sector as a finance manager. Aside from spreadsheets she enjoys running and yoga.

IMG_4626Ayden Peach – currently acting as Company Secretary

Ayden lives close to the farm and joined the board in 2017. He worked as a journalist in television and radio news for more than a decade before retraining as a lawyer. He is currently a trainee solicitor at firm in the City that has particular expertise advising charities and social enterprises.

Charles Paxton – Treasurer

Charlie joined the farm in August 2017 through a board training programme run by his employer. He has worked in banking for 5 years and is a qualified accountant. Originally from Cambridgeshire, he now lives in Pinner with his wife and son. His family has an agricultural background which is what attracted him to join the farm as a trustee and treasurer.

Shree Junk

Shree first encountered the farm in her quest for a local farmers market after moving to the area. She enrolled in a beginners pottery course and though she was far from a natural, she became enamoured with the farm and the people that worked there. Shree’s day job is also local to the area. She works a Major Gifts fundraiser for Barts Charity, supporting the hospitals of the Barts Health NHS Trust to deliver the best healthcare possible for patients through research, equipment and community projects. Shree can be seen walking around the farm with her husband and one year old son, Leo.




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