Growing Together – Building Communities

Meet The Team

James Doran – Founder & Chair

After running a successful Fire and Security company which employed over 200 people and provided services to some of the biggest names on the high street, James sold his national business in 2014 and began developing his passion for growing and eating home-grown, organic produce as well as reconnecting with nature. After creating Hope Farm, a 4-acre soil-association accredited kitchen garden in Peasmarsh, James secured planning on Hope Farm Community Garden in 2019 – a 22-acre AONB site in Hawkhurst which incorporates a neglected walled kitchen garden. An organic, no dig site, which also has Soil Association accreditation, James is focused on opening up this beautiful space so everyone can benefit from connecting with nature and each other.

Sosi Kaskanian – Co-Founder, Secretary & Treasurer

As James’s business partner and Director of Customer Services and Project Management for over 20 years, Sosi brings a wealth of experience in delivery and leadership. She is responsible for driving and delivering the charities’ strategic objectives, both capital projects and grass root initiatives. From partner-based projects through to the creation of new facilities, Sosi’s experience in budget management, health & safety and evaluation & monitoring, provides Hands of Hope with the experience to deliver projects expediently. In July 2021, Sosi spearheaded the launch of Hope Farm Organics, our new box scheme service which helps support our charitable projects.
Sosi Kaskanian
Mandy Doran

Mandy Doran – Co-Founder & Trustee

With a background in sales and marketing, Mandy’s remit covers community engagement, programme development and delivery, fundraising, PR, marketing and social media and anything else James has forgotten to give her!!

Mazin Al-Jumaili – Trustee

With over 25 years in post-production and a keen interest in emerging technologies as well as social media, Mazin’s role is to use both digital marketing & social media platforms to maximise our presence.
Sonja Colman

Sonja Colman – Trustee

After 25 years of corporate life, I retrained in nutritional therapy – a topic I have been interested in, and studied for many years. I have always been passionate about food and my interest in healthy eating has steadily grown since my teens. I set out on my own at the start of 2020 and have spent the last two years building my business, trying out new opportunities to use my training and to find out what I love. My passion is to help people eat more healthily: I love developing, creating or adapting recipes to support my clients with different dietary needs. I believe that healthy food can be exciting, not boring! I believe that diets do not work but a foundation in eating good, natural food is the way to long-term weight management & overall better health. I am really excited to be joining Hands of Hope as a trustee and using my training to support communities to eat better.  In my previous career I was a senior programme manager and strategy director, with global budget, team and planning responsibilities – I hope that this experience, alongside my nutritional education will be a benefit to supporting Hands of Hope with their future goals and aspirations.

Guy Pullen – Head Grower & Site Manager

With over 20 years’ experience in horticulture, our Head Grower, Guy Pullen joined us from the wonderful no-dig vegetable garden at Sissinghurst Castle where he incorporated the garden into the wider Sissinghurst estate. His role with Hands of Hope, includes increasing the visibility of Hope Farm Community Garden to Volunteers and Members alike as well as restoring and developing the growing areas, creating a wonderful community growing space for all to enjoy.

Caty Palmer

Caty Palmer – Horticulture & Countryside Management Assistant

For the last three years I’ve been working on urban farms and community gardens in and around London, as well as volunteering on regenerative farms in Devon and Wales. My main passions are growing food and cut-flowers using regenerative practices and sharing the restorative experience of growing and being in nature with others in my local community. I have experience and training in social and therapeutic horticulture, having delivered training projects for children, adults with learning disabilities and people with mental health issues during my roles to date. I’m now hoping to continue this at Hands of Hope whilst also developing my skills and knowledge in larger-scale organic food production and ecological land management.

Anya Ignatieva – Programme Co-ordinator

Anya’s primary role is the successful delivery of our main project, Get Growing. She is also a trained Forest School Teacher and will be responsible for the development and delivery of nature-based activities for children at Hope Farm Garden.
Anya Ignatieva
Cindy Mills

Cindy Mills – Project Co-ordinator: Hope Farm Organics

After spending most of her career in retail, Cindy joined us in May 2021 and is responsible for the operational delivery of Hope Farm Organics.

Trevor Gilbert – Hope Farm Organics

Following a successful career delivering engineering services for customers in the IT industry, we’re delighted that Trevor has joined Hands of Hope to support our veg box logistics operation.
Trevor Gilbert
Louise Brangwin

Louise Brangwin – Volunteer & Member Co-ordinator

After 8 years with the National Trust, Louise brings a wealth of experience to this new role and just in time as the busy season is upon us!

Aimi Rifat – Head Beekeeper – Bee in Company

After leaving a career teaching Textiles in East Sussex and having kept my own bees on a community orchard in Hastings, I am really looking forward to looking after the bees at Hope Farm Community Garden in their heritage orchard. I will be running ‘Bee in Company’ – a weekly session for people of all ages to learn about the fascinating world of the honey bee.

Aimi Rifat - Head Beekeeper