Who we are
Since then, as well as building up an impressive client base of private farm and estate clients, Jemma has worked with organisations such as Natural England, the Grazing Animals Project, AONB Partnerships, Local Authorities and the States of Jersey, generally in some kind of farmer engagement role. In 2011, Jemma got the farmers of the Marlborough Downs together and developed the first farmer led landscape-scale project to be funded by Defra - the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area. This was a great success in delivering genuine grass roots action and inspired both the GWCT’s Farmer Clusters and Natural England’s Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund. The Marlborough Downs Space for Nature project is still going strong, though the group have rebranded as the Marlborough Downs Nature Enhancement Partnership. Jemma also regularly works on a voluntary basis on environmental projects in Africa, most recently for the Mount Kenya Trust.
Jemma graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Zoology and went on to complete a PhD that encompassed ecology, biospeleology, forensic entomology, and taphonomy. She then achieved competency certificates in chainsaw and winch use, pesticide application, and ATV handling while working as a volunteer. After five years as a lecturer, first at Hartpury and then Lackham, followed by a brief interlude as a researcher with the BBC Natural History Unit, Jemma joined the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency working on the original Countryside Stewardship Scheme in 2000. She left after a year for a role as agri-environment consultant with Greenlink Forestry before setting up Black Sheep in 2002.
Simon joined Black Sheep in 2006 and has since built up a large portfolio of farmers, estate managers and landowners in Wiltshire and surrounding counties as well as working with conservation charities and public sector organisations both locally and nationally. He specialises in the enhancement of the farmed environment by helping farmers to integrate environmental measures and wildlife habitats within their farm businesses, supporting sustainable farming and food production.
Simon is also heavily involved in farmer-led, collaborative, landscape scale conservation, and works with the Pewsey Downs Farmers Group among others.
Frankie is our newest recruit, and is a part-time Black Sheep who spends the rest of her time managing East Hill Farm on Salisbury Plain.
Before taking on the farm, Frankie studied French at University College London and then worked primarily in recruitment in Bristol, London and New Zealand for about six years. The more time she spent at a desk the more she wanted to return to the farm, but her parents did not think there was a secure and safe future in agriculture.
Fortunately, she won them over and Frankie now keeps around 120 suckler cows - mostly Aberdeen Angus x South Devon – plus youngstock, and is committed to pasture-fed organic production and regenerative agriculture. She would like to diversify the farm, to offer a service or learning opportunities to the local community, and alongside working for Black Sheep also takes on occasional freelance work in photography and website design, all of which allow her to blend her interests in animals, the environment, technology, nature, and education in beautiful settings. The fact that ‘Bring Your Dog to Work Day’ is every day is a bonus!