I was born in Nebraska in 1944. Our farm was between Emerson and Homer, poetically-named towns a few miles south of Sioux City.
After obtaining a B.Sc Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania I moved to London in 1966 with the aim of opening a macrobiotic restaurant. In 1967, after a brief career in the ethnic fashion and import business (Afghan coats, Indian posters, Tunisian kaftans, Tibetan shoulder bags, hand-dyed silks) I founded, in partnership with my brother Gregory, Whole Earth Foods, a leading organic food company, expanding from its original organic macrobiotic restaurant ‘Seed’ into retail, wholesaling and manufacturing with the Harmony, Ceres Bakery and Whole Earth brands.
I was Hon. Treasurer of the Soil Association from 1990 to 2001 and was Chairman from 2001-2007. I then chaired Soil Association Certification Ltd from 2007-2009 and continue as a director. I chaired Slow Food UK from 2008 to 2015 and continue as a member of Slow Food Sussex.
In partnership with my wife Josephine Fairley I founded Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate in 1991, an award-winning organic and fair trade confectionery brand whose Maya Gold chocolate was the first product to carry the Fairtrade Mark.
I grow most of my own vegetables organically in our potager garden in Hastings and on my smallholding nearby, where we also have a watercress bed and woodland. I’m now President of Green & Black’s Ltd – a non-executive advisory role.
I am co-founder and Executive Chairman of Carbon Gold Ltd, a carbon sequestration business based on the use of biochar as a soil improver. Biochar is emerging as a major tool for mitigating climate change and restoring our planet’s degraded soils. In addition I serve as a director of Duchy Originals Ltd and of Gusto Organic, the organic soft drink makers.
Josephine and I ran Judges, an organic bakery and food store and now own the Wellington Square Natural Health Centre in Hastings, a venue for alternative and complementary therapies.