New Foundation Farms Appoints Supply Chain Regenerator Caroline Mason to Its Board

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see,” said Henry David Thoreau.

Caroline Mason is someone who has experienced a profound transformation in what she sees when she looks, and that’s why we’re so delighted to be able to announce that she has joined the board at New Foundation Farms. Caroline’s career has been built around senior roles in supermarket supply chains with over 17 years of experience of working and travelling across global food systems.

Caroline Mason Director New Foundation Farms

New Foundation Farms appoints supply chain regenerator Caroline Mason to its board

Her work has led her to the insight that regeneration is a way of looking at the world. She says, “To make food and farming sustainable let alone regenerative, you have to first be grounded in yourself.”

After studying Agri Food Production with Marketing at Harper Adams University, Caroline headed off backpacking and pretty much saw the world. This trip ignited her fascination with and passion to understand, and to be a part of, the global food supply chain.

Caroline began her corporate career at Waitrose. Starting out in the fresh produce department, she became immersed in the world that had so fascinated her from travelling. The global fresh food supply chain is a huge machine operating to incredible deadlines and with surprising efficiency and, in this role, Caroline became familiar with the intricacies of its operation as well as its problems and limitations.

A brief stint of maternity cover saw her move department to ‘proteins’ and this threw her in at the deep end as she led the technical crisis management of the horsemeat scandal, rigorously mitigating risk through appropriate due diligence, governance, and supply chain collaboration, successfully protecting Waitrose’s brand.

After 5 years at Waitrose, Caroline decided it was time for a career break to reassess if her values and career were aligned. Throughout her career she was becoming increasingly frustrated with the conflict between the desire to reduce the negative impacts within the global supply chain and the requirement of shareholders to maximise profit in an economic model that understands sustainability as a cost to the profit motivation.

Caroline moved back home to rural Shropshire with her horses, for a break and a reset. Then came the next opportunity in her career in the form of a position at UK Co-op supermarket chain as Lead Technical Manager in horticulture and fresh produce. There, she innovated with strategic development plans and led a strategic transformation programme of the produce supply base, moving from 97 short-term transactional contracts to 15 suppliers with 3–5-year long term contracts.

At the Co-op, Caroline took on more and more responsibilities, working her way up to Head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture. By October 2022, she had been at the Co-op for six years and her conscience was again pushing her to change. It coincided with a restructure, giving her the perfect opportunity to take another break. However, this break from the corporate world would prove to be the one that changed her direction completely.

The travel bug had never left her and so Caroline decided to head off to volunteer on a wildlife project in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Looking to spend time in nature without the noise and distractions of day-to-day busy-ness, she found it in the jungle. Her time in the rainforest catalysed a deepened awakening of the interconnectedness of nature, the holism of ecosystems and the implications for how we move and consume our food around the globe.

After the trip to Costa Rica, Caroline knew that her time in the current corporate world was over. Acknowledging her desire to drive profound change was always thwarted by a limited view of the bottom line, she realised that her path to change the juggernaut of the global food supply chain was by creating an alternative and better system; leading by example rather than fighting against the current paradigm.

Caroline began the journey to redefine herself outside of the corporate world in which she had been immersed in for 17 years. Letting go of her old identity within it, she engaged on a journey of self-discovery. It led to a realisation that her incredible skills and knowledge of the intimate workings of the global food supply chain could be used to help others with their sustainability and climate goals.

Armed with this insight, Caroline founded Seeds To Thrive, a no-nonsense sustainability consultancy. She takes time to understand client’s business uniqueness, uses tailored frameworks, with supporting tools and coaching techniques, that empowers teams and business leaders to be co-creators of the strategy, have delivery plans for business-to-business growth and have the confidence to shout about their progress. It is here she feels to have found her true vocation: all past life experience and her deep-rooted personal values align to ignite real change in other businesses.

Caroline also founded and chairs an industry Agriculture Wellbeing Hub composed of businesses, charities, and industry bodies to support rural communities across the UK by tacking the challenges of poor mental health, rural isolation, and wellbeing. She is a passionate champion and mentor of young women and girls who want to be the sustainability leaders and change makers of the future, and is a coach for the Future Food Movement an educational platform to support businesses to progress faster with their Climate requirements, her coaching and masterclass specialism is Sustainable Supply Chains.

We are incredibly privileged to appoint her as a Non-Executive Director at New Foundation Farms. Her life experience of operating within the current system and her desire to create an alternative hyper-local system to restore both people and planet is unique, and we very much look forward to working with her at New Foundation Farms.


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