Staff

Abigail Blackburn Outreach Coordinator

Since joining Farm Urban in mid-2020, Abigail Blackburn has become an invaluable part of the team. While researching buying behaviours surrounding sustainable food as part of her Geography degree at Liverpool John Moores University, Abi reached out to Farm Urban as a local case study. From this, she joined the team  in a marketing role, though this quickly ballooned as she worked on wrap-around strategy, thinking about how we communicate our varying projects to different stakeholders.

This wide perspective meant that Abi was able to take on the coordination of all of Farm Urban’s outreach work. Managing events, workshops, and programme delivery, she continues to build a strategy that connects the planning, recruitment, delivery, and marketing of these projects holistically across the organisation. She is interested in how we present our work to different people, wanting to find ways to connect with them in the most effective ways.

Abigail WilliamsImpact Lead

As our Impact Lead, Abigail Williams plays a vital role in keeping Farm Urban’s social aims at the heart of all our activities. Coming to us as a part of her Master’s degree, Abby evaluated the efficacy of the Future Food Challenge, our flagship secondary school programme, taking feedback directly from students to measure the impacts that our programmes can have. From 2021, Abby’s research has expanded as she started her PhD, looking holistically at the impacts of our work across the entirety of Farm Urban. 

Starting a career in advocacy for victims of trafficking and domestic violence after graduating from her first Master’s in History, Abby became interested in what meaningful, sustainable impact looks like. She wanted a clear, demonstrable record of progress for the vulnerable people she was working with. After meeting Farm Urban’s co-founder, Paul Myers, it became clear that Abby’s interest and knowledge of tracking impact would add real value to  Farm Urban. Abby now helps ensure that our projects and approaches to work are always moving towards creating sustainable food systems that respect planetary boundaries, support green education and employment opportunities, and improve people’s health and well-being through behaviour change. 

Daisy MitchellGreens for Good Sales & Marketing Coordinator, and Designer

Daisy Mitchell’s dual roles within Farm Urban bring vibrancy and vitality to what we do, she hopes to make our work more accessible by broadening perspectives from the scientific focus of much of Farm Urban’s staff. As a designer, both interior and graphic, she has made our Front of House spaces, at the farm and the office, more welcoming, choosing practical and comfortable furniture, maintaining the food growing systems on display for visitors, and making signage. She has built a flexible design language for Greens for Good that can be used digitally, for social media and online content, and in print, for flyers and box content.

Designing for Greens for Good naturally led to working on the Greens for Good social media, and with that, the marketing strategy for Greens for Good. From here, her role in sales and marketing began to expand, incorporating customer care, mapping out customer journeys, and adding a personal touch by hand delivering the first box to new subscribers. She has also built relationships with partners like To Good To Go and local food banks for our community box distribution.

Francis Baumont de OliveriaResearcher

Francis Baumont De Oliveira is one of Farm Urban’s PhD candidates, through the University of Liverpool, Francis is researching the economic and environmental sustainability of vertical farming. He is creating baseline metrics for measuring risk and uncertainty for investments in vertical farming. Francis is going into the field, talking to experts involved to identify key risks and lessons learned, taking past case studies into account. His model evaluates risk assessments and mitigation strategies using imprecise probabilistic techniques whilst accounting for various uncertainties. His research aims to benefit both investors and farmers.

During his Aerospace Engineering MEng, he teamed up with Farm Urban to prototype an aquaponic system, shifting his key values and merging his love of nature and engineering. Francis sees urban agriculture as a key response to global issues, helping to improve the stewardship of our planet, people’s health, and understanding of food systems by bringing them closer to people’s lives. 

Guy MidgleyDaily Farm Manager

Taking over in autumn 2021 to give predecessor Laurence Anderson time to focus on his PhD research, Guy Midgley oversees the day-to-day running of the farm. Farm operations break down into three distinct days, one for harvesting and boxing, one for transplanting, and one for sowing. Guy ensures that these run smoothly, managing volunteers and staff, on top of necessary maintenance tasks. When not on the farm, Guy reads policy documents and grants information to help think about how urban farming can fit into wider industrial and social trends.

Guy joined as a volunteer on the Farm during 2020, as something to do during COVID lockdowns, after talking to our Impact Lead, Abby, a friend from his Modern History Master’s degree. By the start of the following year he had taken on more responsibility, joining the farm team as a farm technician.

Jayne GossOperations Director

Shortly after her return to Liverpool from Germany in 2017, Jayne Goss met Farm Urban co-founders Jens and Paul. She had become interested in food sustainability while travelling, when family circumstances meant she needed to return, she searched for projects in Merseyside that reminded her of what she had seen abroad. After connecting with Farm Urban, she quickly became vital to our operation. Over the years her role has grown, from establishing our education programmes, supporting the organisation through  periods of rapid growth in terms of projects and staff.

Using her experience from running a training company with her father, Jayne helped to build the first version of the Future Food Challenge and Farm Urban’s online learning platform. She wanted these to be about more than just growing food, but also to show ethical approaches to enterprise and work. Jayne took responsibility for our 2019 crowdfunder, allowing her to take this perspective into the wider business beyond our education programmes. Jayne aims to use her role at Farm Urban to build fulfilling work for people outside and inside of the organisation, nurturing the company and culture as we grow, and helping to upskill people through education and community work with new green technologies.

Dr. Jens ThomasTechnical Director

Jens Thomas is moving the farm forward, as Farm Urban’s Co-Founder and Technical Director, he is looking for ways to improve the operations of the farm, looking for innovative ways to evolve how we grow using hydroponic technologies, with the aim of making the farm financially self-sufficient. He oversees the strategy for everything from new equipment to working processes. His role within Farm Urban is making technology work, on the farm and beyond, building the systems and infrastructure needed to help the organisation grow.

Having met Paul Myers at a number of events surrounding shared interests in permaculture, Thai Boxing, and more. Their friendship grew, and, taking inspiration from Salford’s Biospheric Project, they started Farm Urban. For a number of years it was just Jens and Paul building the groundwork for Farm Urban, but now Jens is proud of how the company has grown while maintaining a set of core values and growing relationships.

Joe Citrine Web Developer

Joe Citrine joined Farm Urban full-time in mid-2021, but his relationship with the organisation goes back further. As part of his previous work at a web design agency, he worked on the initial version of the Future Food Challenge online platform. He started maintaining and supporting the FFC site in a freelance capacity, before being brought fully on board to build out platforms for all our learning programmes, with a common language and functionality. By building a vehicle for learning content, with unified formatting, mechanics, and gamification, Joe is making delivery and expansion of Farm Urban’s learning programmes. 

Being in-house has given Joe the room for greater understanding, flexibility, and innovation, able to see the bigger picture and the impact that his work has. He works to improve our internal IT infrastructure, thinking long-term, Joe is working towards building connections across Farm Urban’s IT systems. He’s laying the foundation for joined-up systems between physical farm infrastructure, and servers to aid with data collection.

Laurence AndersonFarm Operations and R&D Coordinator

Coming to Farm Urban after working with co-founder Paul Myers on a Wirral based research project about fish waste, Laurence Anderson began a PhD investigating the nutrient flow in aquaponic systems. His research takes into account the differing needs of each part of an aquaponic system, the fish, the plants, the growing medium, and aims to model how changing nutrient levels in the different areas affects growing, allowing growers to find the right balance. Lessons from Laurence’s PhD have been instrumental in making our farm more efficient and sustainable.

Stemming from this, Laurence took on research and development responsibilities for the farm, leading on trialing new methods of germination, propagation, and nutrient cycling. This involves things like testing out new plug materials to make sure that everything we use is eco friendly, experimenting with new propagation systems, and supporting and overseeing research by others. This support extends to all farm operations, with Laurence helping out as needed with any issues on the farm. Laurence’s work is vital to improving the efficiency of hydroponics, helping to cut back on waste and excess water while increasing crop yields.

Dr. Paul Myers Managing Director

Co-founding Farm Urban out of discussions with friend Jens, Paul Myers was looking for a way to have a quicker and more direct impact on people’s well-being than his research positions would allow. Through their myriad shared interests, Paul and Jens found that they could make the most transformative change by addressing issues with the sustainability and health of food systems. Using mutual expertise, they built the initial aquaponics systems together, but Paul quickly found that his talents lie in relationship building. By making connections with key players, Paul was able to secure funding and access that allowed for Farm Urban’s growth.

Sniffing out opportunities became the thrust of Paul’s role, finding grants, investment, and projects that could help Farm Urban’s impact to grow. He takes on public speaking engagements and makes connections, spreading our values and vision externally. This reflects back within the company, where Paul has helped to build a set of values into an operating philosophy, a vision that he can articulate inside and outside the organization.

Rachel Heaps-Page – Learning Programmes Developer

A background in Primary teaching and writing allows Rachel Heaps-Page to create highly effective, engaging, and impactful learning resources that can be used across Farm Urban’s outreach activities. Creating content for learners at all levels from primary to university, along with members of the public for Farm Urban’s community outreach. The resources she creates help teachers and facilitators to run sessions that give insights into sustainability and wellbeing while building the new green skills of tomorrow.

To be able to make the best content, and find new ways of delivery, Rachel researches pedagogical devices and educational technologies, hoping to increase the impact and effectiveness of our programmes. Rachel’s role is key to Farm Urban’s goals of sharing expertise that can equip people with new skills, leading them to new opportunities, enabling them to make healthy, sustainable choices, and have an impact on their own community.

Sam BannonResearcher

After his Plant Biology degree, Sam Bannon was energised to seek out new ways of growing. Getting involved with Farm Urban at a time when the farm was being conceptualised gave a lot of room for experimentation as he helped co-founders Paul and Jens develop the ways that the farm could work. Becoming Head Grower, Sam took responsibility for the new farm as it grew, but ultimately his experimental interests took precedence, handing over the reins of the farm in late 2020 to do a PhD investigating the best ways to grow produce indoors.

Sam is running trials and conducting data analysis to see how different mixes of microorganisms and different light spectra can improve growth. Beginning with existing off-the-shelf products, before making his own, Sam is testing the efficacy of types of bioinoculants. He also is working with varying light levels, using changeable filters on LEDs to incrementally increase the amount of green light. This research should help to make vertical farming more sustainable and efficient by reducing energy use. From Sam’s research perspective, Sam is also keeping an eye on other projects Farm Urban is undertaking, helping with experiments at the Heath, where Hydrogen powered growing systems are being tested.

Tim WrightOutreach and Events Lead

Joining Farm Urban in late 2021 Tim brings a wealth of experience as a successful Programme, Events and Project Manager having worked across the education, public, business and live music sectors. Most recently Tim was a Programme Manager at a national Collective Impact and Place Based Change charity. He managed three education outreach programmes across the town of Blackpool to achieve sustainable system change on the themes of improving KS3 literacy, promoting inclusive practice to reduce exclusions, and improving positive and sustained pathways for young people at risk of becoming NEET.

Before this Tim led a region-wide schools STEM outreach, widening participation and careers event programme engaging upwards of 13,000 pupils per year across the North West. Tim is passionate about creating networks, widening horizons and facilitating opportunities to identify and develop potential in young people, thriving on the challenge of instigating and nurturing mutually reciprocal relationships to achieve this aim. Tim has further experience in primary, secondary and further education settings and, in a parallel life, has been a rock climbing instructor and the stage manager at an award winning music festival!