LEAF LADY – with FACE
Born in 1963, she was one of three children to Lt-Cdr Geoffrey Drummond, a military man and noted diver, and Sarah Spencer. Both parents came from aristocratic families (her father was a son of the Earl of Perth) and they were extremely wealthy.
Her brothers were educated at Eton College whilst she went to St Swithun’s in Winchester.
As a child she loved helping out on farms and decided this would become her career.
She went to Seale-Hayne agricultural college and graduated with a BSc in Agronomy.
She was then employed as a training manager at Shuttleworth College, Bedfordshire, which included being a forklift truck driving instructor, before becoming a lecturer there.
It was then that she became a passionate advocate of sustainable food and farming.
In 1991 she was appointed CEO of LEAF – Linking Environment and Farming. It was a three-year contract, but she ended up staying in the position for 30 years.
It was a small organisation but grew under her watch due to her energy, organisation and vision. It is now a globally recognised leader in food ethics.
She introduced the idea of ‘Open Farm Sunday’. Farms across the country open their doors one day a year so that the general public can see how they operate and get a better understanding of how their food is produced. It is now a very popular annual event.
She also did extensive outreach work in schools, becoming known as the ‘Leaf Lady’.
Whilst this was going on, Caroline married Philip Ward and they had one daughter, Gabrielle. The family lived on a dairy farm near Liskard in Cornwall.
She also introduced the LEAF Marque Initiative, an award that recognised products were grown sustainably with care for the environment. Regenerative farming was her watchword.
LEAF also merged with the charity FACE (Farming and Countryside Education). They worked with over 1,000 businesses in 27 different countries in the world.
They also have 300,000 hectares certified in the UK. This has led to the UK having the highest agricultural standards around the world.
For her work she was awarded an MBE for her “services to agriculture”, as well as becoming a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society and receiving the 2019 Farmers Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award.
Additionally, Caroline was a founder member of the ‘Assured Combinable Crop Scheme’ and received an Honorary Doctorate from Harper Adams University in Shropshire. Her citation stated she was “a friendly face and a positive driving force.”
She also worked on steering groups with DEFRA.
She negotiated with the Council for the Protection of Rural England) and the RSPB). Initially relations with CPRE were tricky but Caroline forged compromise and improved relations. She believed in farming and the environment working together.
She also did a lot of work with the European Union.
In 2020, she was diagnosed with cancer but continued her work, emphasising that good diets contribute to national health.
In May 2022 her health suddenly declined, and she died quite quickly, aged just 58. Tributes immediately flooded in.
Philip Wynn, the Chairman of LEAF said, “Her passion, determination, foresight and energy has transformed LEAF from its small beginnings 30 years ago, to the globally recognised and respected organisation it is today.”
The President of the NF, Minette Batters said, “she was a tour de force with the agricultural community – her sense of purpose and commitment was renowned, and for which she will be greatly missed.”
RIP – Rural Initiatives = Progressive