After graduating with an Agricultural and Forest Sciences degree from Oxford University, Francis set up and ran for 10 years his own organic farm and fresh produce wholesale business in Somerset, where he still lives – the farmyard is now converted into 18 small business units.
He wrote Organic Farming and Growing – a Guide to Management (Crowood Press) and founded the Organic Advisory Service in conjunction with Elm Farm Research Centre, serving as an advisor for 2 years.
In 1986 he joined Soil Association Certification as managing director. After 14 years, he moved into the parent charity as Soil Association standards director, responsible for all the organisation’s organic standards, including launching its Health & Beauty Standards in 2002. In 2010, he took a step back, becoming (part time) policy advisor, and finally retired from the Soil Association in 2017.
Francis was the founding president of the IFOAM EU Regional Group (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) since its formation in 2000 until 2009, and similarly of the COSMOS-standard AISBL from 2010 until October 2017. He remains involved as chief advisor to COSMOS.
He is married to an acupuncturist and his hobbies include gardening, beekeeping, walking, learning the mandolin and he holds a black belt in Ki Aikido.