Tributes from across the food and farming community have been paid to the much-loved lifelong sustainable farming advocate Caroline Drummond who has passed away after a brief illness.
Drummond led Leaf (which stands for Linking Environment and Farming) as chief executive since 1991 and is credited with transforming it into an influential organisation known for championing sustainable farming and bridging the gap between farmers and the public.
Today Leaf is a trusted accreditation scheme with its distinctive label seen on many high welfare and high standard food sold at supermarkets, including extensively at Waitrose.
It is also behind the popular national farm open day, Open Farm Sunday, which enables around a quarter of a million people onto farms on one day every year as a powerful bridge between farmers and the public.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved CEO Caroline Drummond MBE, who passed away yesterday,” a statement from Leaf said.
“Caroline transformed LEAF from small beginnings 30 years ago to where we are today. There are no words to express how much she will be missed.”
Friends and colleagues from across the farming and food community have shared tributes to Drummond’s kindness, her inspiring approach to public education around farming, calling her a “powerhouse of better farming” and a “giant of the industry”.
Chief executive of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC), Sue Pritchard, said: “Caroline was a good, supportive and critical friend to us at FFC Commission, who could always be relied on to be straight with us, with her trademark warmth and humour. She leaves a brilliant legacy in LEAF Farming and all those she inspired to change.
Drummond was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to agriculture, and an honorary doctorate from Harper Adams University in recognition of her work to combine modern farming with conservation.
Professor Michael Lee, deputy vice-chancellor at Harper Adams University, said: “Our thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Caroline Drummond MBE, whose loss will be felt across the whole farming community.
“Caroline was both a friendly face and positive driving force, advocating for both the development of more sustainable farming methods and the facilitation of greater connection and understanding between the food-buying public and agriculture.”
Susie Emmett, filmmaker and director of food and farming production company Green Shoots, tweeted that: “No words indeed to express our sense of loss. Because we all gained so much from knowing and working with dear Caroline. Formidable, determined, persuasive, caring, inspired and inspiring, driven and driving: for us who worked with her we will continue to work for her and her vision.”