Speakers are listed alphabetically by last name. Please note all speakers are subject to change.
Dr. Srdjan Acimovic
Dr. Acimovic is a plant pathologist at Cornell University's Hudson Valley Research Laboratory. He conducts research on management of tree diseases, plant pathogen identification and epidemiology, including lab and field evaluation of biocides and plant resistance activators for their control. He holds a doctorate in Plant Pathology from Michigan State University. His current research focus is on apple tree pathology including development of new control methods for fire blight bacterium Erwinia amylovora. Previously, his postdoctoral work focused on urban tree pathology with pathogen detection and development of control option for Fusarium euwallaceae, Western sycamore pathogen vectored by Polyphagous Shothole Borer, Phomopsis canker of spruce (Phomopsis occulta), Anthracnose of sycamore (Apiognomonia veneta), Rapid ʻōhiʻa death (Ceratocystis fimbriata), Diplodia tip blight of pines aka Sphaeropsis blight (Diplodia pinea), Diplodia canker and wilt of Quercus spp. (Diplodia corticola), Coast redwood blight and canker (Neofusicoccum australe, N. luteum, N. mediterraneum, N. parvum and Botryosphaeria dothidea), Fusarium wilt of palms (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. canariensis and F. o. f. sp. palmarum) and Fire blight (Erwinia amylovora). The goal of his research is to provide necessary scientific environment for development of solutions for target-precise tree disease control. Dr. Acimovic is a member of the American Phytopathological Society, International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences, and International Fruit Tree Association, and has published 60 articles and proceedings in scientific journals and on conferences based in USA and abroad.
George is the founder of Northfield Ventures Ltd., a consulting firm providing advice and assistance to a wide range of agricultural, food, and rural co-operatives, businesses, and marketing boards, primarily in the food-processing and biofuel sectors. Since 1996, Northfield Ventures has assisted co-ops and other enterprises with business and strategic planning, project management, securing appropriate financing from both traditional and non-traditional sources, developing and implementing community investment campaigns, and obtaining government regulatory approvals and funding. Core areas of specialization include the development of agricultural co-operatives and other forms of producer-driven organizations.
Kurtis is a third-generation farmer in Chatham-Kent area of Ontario. He farms with his family and has been growing vegetables for the past 30 years. His family’s farm produces over 700 acres of field grown vegetables for the processing industry. This includes processing tomatoes, peppers, pickling cucumbers, sweet corn and peas. Kurtis believes his fundamental approach to soil health and sound agronomic practice has contributed to his success and helped him maintain high standards for yield and consistency over the years. Kurtis continues to explore new concepts by adapting technology and innovation, but always tries to keep an emphasis on basic fundamentals that maintain soil health.
Rachel is a PhD candidate in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University. She received her undergraduate degree in Engineering Chemistry at Queen’s University. She is a recipient of NSERC Canada Graduate and Postgraduate Scholarships. Her research with Dr. Gavin Sacks in wine flavour chemistry focuses on the evolution of reduced off-aromas, particularly related to copper fining and canned wines. A former captain of the Cornell Cuvée Wine Education and Blind Tasting Society, her team recently placed first in the Millésime EHL Wine Tasting Contest in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Tim has spent over two decades helping organizations unite teams, spark change and get unstuck, with clients that include The United Nations, Citibank, KPMG, Toyota, and Siemens. He leverages his experience launching successful businesses, social enterprises, and community development programs to bring a real-world perspective to his clients. With advanced degrees in both business and social justice, he is able to help organizations pursue both profit and purpose. He married into a multi-generational tender fruit farming family and helped launch the social enterprise - The Southridge Jam Company - in partnership with a number of tender fruit farms in Lincoln.
Sarah is the co-founder of Field Sparrow Farms, located on 100 acres in Bobcaygeon, ON where they focus on regenerative agriculture practices that protect habitat for grassland bird species. Currently, they market grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and pastured chicken via retail stores, food co-ops, and farmers’ markets. She is also the General Manager of the National Farmers Union-Ontario and the Chair of the Fair Finance Fund and has previously served on the Board of the Organic Council of Ontario and the West End Food Co-op.
Tony is an independent Precision Agronomy Specialist based out of southern Ontario. As owner of NithField Agronomy & Research, he technically consults on over 40 thousand acres of cropland across several counties. NithField’s farming operation is the foundation their research studies and trial program and consists of 650+ acres of full production field scale research systems, many with multiyear platforms. Tony is a Certified Crop Advisor, a graduate of the University of Guelph and educated at the University of Illinois where he specialized in equipment technology and crop sciences. Tony was also a 2016 Canadian Nuffield Scholar who studied internationally for two years on reclassifying historical soil type maps accurately into field specific management zones for variable rate systems.
Doug has been growing apples since 1983 in Canada’s most southerly orchard near Lake Erie with his wife Leslie. He graduated from the University of Guelph in OAC ‘77, and worked in the grain industry for 13years, before turning to farming full-time. Their home farm was originally mostly peaches, but has transitioned to 85% apples, with a retail business of fresh peaches, pears, plums, berries, flowers and vegetables at their roadside market called The Fruit Wagon. Doug’s goal is to be a small, intensive business focusing on high yields and high quality produce using the efficiencies of new technologies. His membership in IFTA has been instrumental in keeping them current in orchard management strategies and the lessons learned have molded their ongoing orchard renewals with recent plantings at 2000 trees per acre.
Paul H. Baxter
A serial entrepreneur, Paul has spent most of his life building businesses. He has enjoyed many challenges in several industries with the most recent working away with his son David at building Baxters Bakery, a scratch bakery supplier to many farm markets, grocery stores, restaurants and hotels in the industry for the past 12 years. During his 38 years in business he has had some winners and some that were not so much. He is pleased to share from his many challenges over the years. Paul is pleased to serve on the board of OFFMA and looks forward to serving and supporting the industry in whatever way he can
John is the crop specialist at Exeter Produce. He is responsible for the transplanting and management of the cabbage, rutabaga, green bean and bell pepper crops. Along with the rotational row crops, Exeter produce manages over 4000 acres. John is a graduate of the University of Guelph with a major in Crop Science and has worked mostly for input suppliers as a certified Crop Advisor in Huron and Bruce counties helping producers with fertilizer and crop protection decisions.
Sonia has been a fan of agricultural since childhood. She has occupied many strategic roles related to marketing, innovation, consumer insights and new market development for companies such as Scotts Miracle Gro and Fafard. In her current role, she is responsible for packaging innovation and marketing for Cascades in markets including produce, food, and beverage for North America.
Dr. Asim Biswas
Dr. Biswas is an Associate Professor of soil physics and hydrology at the University of Guelph. His research program on sustainable soil management is focused on increasing the productivity and resilience of our land-based agri-food production systems in an environmentally sustainable way while accounting for changing climate, economy and production methodologies. Currently, he runs a large research team, funded by federal and provincial bodies as well as industries, grower’s associations and international organizations. He has authored and co-authored 109 peer-reviewed journal papers, 155 conference abstracts, 12 proceedings, 15 book chapters, 2 popular articles, edited a book, delivered radio and TV interviews and granted a patent. He was invited to deliver keynote talks around the world and currently teaches multiple undergraduate, graduate and special courses.
Thomas did his undergraduate work in biochemistry at UC Davis and his PhD in botany at Cornell. He has been on the horticulture faculty at Cornell’s Geneva campus since 1990, with a primary responsibility in vegetable physiology. Under that broad umbrella, his research and extension have ranged from studies of molecular control of floral development and microbe-enhanced germination to the integration of cover crops into vegetable production systems, and a comprehensive breeding, extension and market-development project for broccoli for eastern US-North America. He has worked with a broad array of stakeholder groups including market gardeners, organic certifiers, large-scale vegetable growers, community development boards, seed companies, and legislators.
Manus is the orchard manager at Algoma Orchards. He grew up on a farm and have been growing apples for almost 10 years. He did a degree in Pomology from Elsenburg Agricultural College in South Africa before starting his career in the apple business.
Gerbe is the Orchard Manager on his family farming operation in The Blue Mountains, Ontario. The vertically integrated operation includes nursery, orchard, storage, packing and marketing. With 8 years of full-time experience and continuous improvement as a focus of his management approach, yields as well as apple quality continue to improve. The orchards are all irrigated, trellised high density plantings aiding in efficiency and quality. In 2019, the Botden’s took on an expansion to their apple packing facility with a new 65,000 square foot facility to sort, package and sell their own apples, as well as apples from other growers.
Eric is a research horticulturist and lead scientist in organic production at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Salinas, CA where he's worked since 2001. His current research is in organic vegetable and strawberry production focused on cover crops, weed and soil fertility management, and biological control of insect pests. This occurs on farms and at the 25 acres of certified organic, USDA-ARS land that he manages. Eric is passionate about long-term research and effective communication of practical research results to farmers and others. Prior to USDA-ARS, Eric worked as a farm advisor (Thailand), and did research on tree propagation, plant breeding and plant-insect interactions.
As an agricultural consultant, Ryan has been working in the Niagara area, grape and tender fruit sectors since 2002. He began as summer student, monitoring and reporting on pest presence in Niagara area vineyards and tender fruit orchards under the tutelage of Kevin Ker (KCMS Inc.). In 2019, Ryan branched out and started his own agricultural consulting company, Brewster Consulting Services (BCS), focusing primarily on pest monitoring/trapping, development of IPM based spray programs and soil/tissue sampling to optimize nutrient management programs. During the winter months, Ryan is one of the primary researchers involved with the CCOVI Vine Alert system, which provides frequently updated cold hardiness information and grapevine bud survival levels to Ontario grape growers. Ryan is a member of both the Ontario Institute of Agrologists (OIA) and the Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC), and a proud graduate of Brock University.
Chalmers R. Carr III
Chalmers, a first generation farmer, is the owner and operator of Titan Farms which grows, packs and processes peaches and vegetables in the eastern United States. The farming operation consists of over 6,000 acres of peaches, 1,600 acres of vegetables and employs over 750+ H-2A workers annually. Chalmers currently serves as Chairman of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee and President of USA Farmers, a national organization representing H-2A employers. Over the years he has also served on other various committees and won several awards including past President of the National Peach Council, Farm Journal’s Top Producer of the Year in 2017, and 2015 Bayer CropScience Produce Innovation Award Winner. Chalmers believes in empowering his employees because they are the operation’s most valuable resource. Through his vision and the leadership of the management team, Titan Farms is an industry leader in the utilization of technology and best-in-class food safety programs.
Kathryn is the Fruit Specialist (tender fruit and grape) for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Kathryn’s current research focuses on evaluating stone fruit rootstocks for their suitability in Ontario orchards, and improving fertilizer programs in orchards and vineyards. Kathryn has worked with OMAFRA for the past 18 years, where she has been involved in research projects and transferring production information to growers and the agricultural industry. Kathryn has a MSc in Environmental Biology from University of Guelph and a BSc from Brock University.
Derek is currently the President of Thornbury Village Craft Cider and Beer. He is a graduate of Niagara College in both Business Administration and Finance and has worked in the beverage alcohol industry for almost 15 years. Derek has served as Vice Chair on the Ontario Craft Cider Association and currently sits as a participant on the Government Relations Committee for the OCCA. Derek’s background in Finance has helped him to educate members of Queen’s Park to fully understand the hardship that cider has endured due to unfair tax practices. Derek is also is a board of Wine Growers Ontario (formerly WGAO) and is also the Treasurer for the VQA Ontario Wine Appellation Authority.
Deanna was born in Niagara and is passionate about the region and all of the great things it has to offer. Her passion for local food can be traced back to her early years growing up on a hobby farm in both Alberta and Port Colborne, Ontario, where Deanna’s family raised livestock and grew their own vegetables. Deanna has worked for the City of St. Catharines since 2012 in the Community, Recreation and Culture Services department. She took on the role of the community and market coordinator in January 2019, received Farmers’ Market Ontario’s Market Manager Certification and has been working hard to enhance and grow the market and increase its visibility and impact in the community. Deanna’s passion for fresh, healthy food and food security goes beyond her work at the market. Outside her professional life, she maintains a passion for nutrition and educating others on what clean eating is as a volunteer nutrition ambassador at a local fitness facility, along with sharing the importance of building sustainable communities.
Susan has an academic background in agriculture, education, and pollination biology and is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Guelph studying the effects of common agricultural practices on the health of native squash bee populations on Ontario farms. Besides her studies, Susan works on a variety of projects to make conservation of native pollinators more understandable and applicable to Ontario’s farmers. Susan is the author of The Landowner’s Guide to Conserving Native Pollinators on Farms, a Technical Guide for Preserving and Creating Habitat for Pollinators on Ontario’s Farms, and many short factsheets on the topic of crop pollination and pollinators. With funding from GLASI, she has recently created an online tool for designing pollinator habitat on farms. Susan lectures at Trent University’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program.
Sarah has worked in the digital marketing field since 2003. Dufferin Media was founded in 2012 as a full service digital marketing agency focusing on affordable website and social media marketing solutions for small to medium sized business owners. Sarah works with business owners to develop a strategy that communicates their business message clearly and consistently to their target market in a way which will result in more awareness, more customers, and more revenue.
Dr. Cline is a Professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph where he teaches and conducts research in tree fruit pomology. He also provides outreach to the industry, growers and stakeholders. The primary objectives of his are to investigate factors that determine yield and fruit quality of tree fruit crops. Projects include investigating the use of new, size-controlling apple, peach and cherry rootstocks, irrigation scheduling, studying horticultural technologies including to reduce labour inputs in a movement toward greater orchard automation, and investigating plant bioregulators to regulate flowering, plant growth, improve fruit quality and reduce pre-harvest fruit drop. Research is carried out at the University of Guelph, Horticultural Experiment Station, Simcoe and on commercial orchards across Ontario. John holds a BSc in soil science (University of Guelph), MSc in horticulture (Michigan State University), and a PhD in Horticulture (University of London, UK).
As a Vice President at Leger, Lisa manages the Communications and Public Affairs practice and is a senior member of the Toronto office. Her clients include some of the top PR agencies in Canada, and communications practitioners at several corporations, food associations, and pharmaceutical companies. She focuses her practice on research for media attention across numerous industries as well as research with market access and food associations. She is well-versed in both quantitative and qualitative research methods and is a security cleared federal government moderator. Lisa graduated from McMaster University in 1998 with an Honours Degree in Political Science. She furthered her studies, completing her Master’s Degree in Political Science in 2000 at McMaster University with a focus on comparative politics, research methods, and statistical analysis. Lisa is currently on the National Board of the Canadian Public Relations Society, a Corporate Board Member at Make-a-Wish® Canada and a member of the Board of Directors at Robbins Hebrew Academy.
Rob is the Tree Fruit Extension Specialist and a Professor of Tree Fruit at Penn State University. He has been at Penn State since 1984 and prior to that was at the University of Georgia from 1980 through 1983. His undergraduate degree is from Miami University in Oxford, OH in Botany. His horticulture graduate degrees are from Ohio State University working under Dr. Dave Ferree. His primary areas of expertise are tree fruit rootstocks, training systems, apple cultivars and plant nutrition. In the late 1980’s, he was part of the PSU team that developed expert systems for orchard management that released the Penn State Apple Orchard Consultant (PSAOC) program. He has also taught the undergraduate Horticulture 432 Deciduous Tree Fruit Production course since 1996. Rob is also a member of NC-140 Regional Research Project on tree fruit rootstocks.
Dr. Michelle Danyluk
Dr. Danyluk is a Professor and Extension Specialist of Food Safety and Microbiology in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida, situated at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, FL. Her current research and extension interests include microbial food safety and quality, emphasizing the microbiology of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and juices. Michelle’s extension program includes teaching programs related to FSMA, HACCP, GAPS and other specialized food safety programs. She received the Larry Beuchat Young Researcher Award in 2010 and a Presidents Recognition Award in 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2019 from the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP). Michelle was elected a member of the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Food (ICMSF) in 2016 and to the IAFP Executive Board in 2019.
Henriet is currently sits on the Board of Directors for Farmers’ Market Ontario and sits as a member of the Policy Advisory Council for Ontario Federation of Agriculture. She is also the Past President and a current board member of the Thunder Bay Federation of Agriculture. Together with her husband, they own and operate DeBruin's Greenhouses which sells hydroponic produce directly to consumers at local farmers’ markets and to local stores and restaurants.
Dr. Jennifer DeEll
Dr. DeEll is the Fresh Market Quality Specialist - Hort Crops with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), located in Simcoe. She is currently: studying the effects of anti-ethylene technologies on apple fruit ripening and physiological disorders during storage; developing optimum postharvest practices for new apple and pear cultivars, as well as to reduce mealiness and chilling injury in peaches; and investigating methods to improve handling and storage of fresh fruits and vegetables. Dr. DeEll was one of the first to receive the Agri-Food Innovation Award from the Government of Ontario for previous work on fresh-cut apple slices. She has published over 90 scientific papers, as well as review articles and books, on subjects pertaining to postharvest physiology and the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables. She is also on the editorial board for the international scientific journal Postharvest Biology and Technology.
Rob is the Vice President of Bercab Farms Inc., in Tupperville, Ontario. After attending Fanshawe College for Diesel Motor Mechanic, Rob returned to the family farm in 2000. The farm currently grows a wide range of crops including grains, oilseeds and horticulture processing crops such as tomatoes, banana peppers, green beans, peas and sweet corn. Today as majority shareholder and Vice President, Rob is dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to utilize technology to get the job done and increase the bottom line.
Roy D. Desrochers
Roy is a sensory expert who has been supporting the brewing industry for over 35 years. He is the beer flavour expert for the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA). He has conducted many beer flavour training programs and workshops around the globe for both small and large brewers. In addition, he provides educational and technical support to farmers and growers including hops and grains. He has conducted sensory workshops for the MBAA National Conventions, MBAA District Texas, MBAA District New England, and MBAA District Ontario, The Hop Growers Conference in Burlington, VT, The Hop Growers Guild in Columbus, Ohio, the Hop Growers Convention in Michigan, the Vermont Brewers Guild, and the Massachusetts Brewers Guild.
Katherine Di Tommaso
As Senior Director of Regulatory Compliance, Katherine oversees food safety within the Walmart Canada network. Katherine’s scope of responsibilities includes food safety oversight of Walmart Canada’s stores, food safety training and education of associates, food safety oversight of food suppliers, food safety within the distribution network and several critical regulatory compliance issues. Prior to joining Walmart in 2003, Katherine spent six years in the food manufacturing sector where she had progressive food safety roles. Katherine holds memberships with several professional associations, including the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) and the Ontario Food Protection Association (OFPA). Katherine is a former Board Member for the OFPA. She holds a BSc in Food Science from McGill University, a Master of Science MSc in Food Science from the University of Guelph and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Terence M. Donnelly
Terry is the Chairman and CEO of Hill Street Beverage Co., focused on the production of world class, award winning cannabis-infused and alcohol-free wine and beer. Hill Street’s alcohol free products are currently available in thousands of leading grocery and drug stores across Canada. Their products have won awards around the world, including three Golds at the US Open Beer championships, a Double Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Challenge, and the Retail Council of Canada’s Grand Prix Award. The company is preparing its brewing and winemaking operations to become a leader in cannabis infused beverages to be available in 2020 or whenever the government approves them. Terry is also the co-founder of the Cannabis Beverage Producers Alliance, a national organization representing the unique interests of beverage producers for lobbying and public education.
Born and raised in Hawkes Bay on New Zealand’s eastern coast, Hayden grew up on a family owned and operated orchard growing primarily apples. After studying and working in the Hawkes Bay grape industry for a short period, Hayden ventured overseas and now resides in Norfolk County where he is the Assistant General Manager at The Norfolk Fruit Growers’ Association. Hayden has recently purchased his own orchard and has just completed his first harvest as an apple grower.
Kristina is the Health & Safety Excellence program Consultant at Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS). As an approved Program Provider of WSIB’s Health & Safety Excellence program, WSPS has tasked Kristina with the responsibility for the creation of their offering. She has been in the health and safety field for over 12 years, working in various positions to support the safety of workers across the province. Having lived in and around the Niagara region her entire life, Kristina appreciates the importance of agriculture to the region, and how it has shaped the culture of the area.
Sarah is studying plant pathology in an MSc program in the Plant Agriculture Department at the University of Guelph. Her research focuses on the management of clubroot, a serious disease of Brassica crops, with resistant cultivars and crop rotation. Her research interest is to mitigate the impacts of diseases of horticultural crops. Sarah is the recipient of an HQP scholarship and has worked with vegetable crops at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as part of this scholarship program.
Dr. Mike Duncan
The seeds of sustainability and efficiency in agriculture have firmly taken root at Niagara College Research & Innovation through the efforts of Dr. Duncan, the first NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in 2012. With a specialization in Precision Agriculture and Environmental Technologies, the mission of the Chair is to continue the work Duncan had already started when he arrived at Niagara College in 2001 including to develop new tools and to engage provincial and national farming communities. The Chair work began with the Crop Portal, a cloud-based cash crop yield data processing system with partners OMAFRA and the GFO. It is used to study techniques in precision agriculture. In 2017, Dr. Duncan was successful in renewing the Chair for another five years to extend the precision ag work by studying the climate and weather conditions that crops grow in (ie. what weather conditions support good yields). Dr. Duncan and his team of students and collaborators are currently examining the ‘suitability’ of different crops. Using forensic meteorology, climate change predictions and a number of AI based and conventional analytics, the team is looking into how various changes in the weather might impact the business of farming.
Nathalie is the Executive Director, Crops and Horticulture Division, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). She has spent most of her career at AAFC and has a vast experience of working on agricultural issues, both domestic and trade. Most recently, she was on an assignment at the Farm Products Council of Canada as interim executive director where she oversaw the operations of the supply managed poultry and eggs agencies as well as the promotion and research agencies. She also held different senior positions at AAFC, including Director of the Americas where she worked at developing solid relationships with the U.S. and Mexico, and as Director of the Trade Negotiations Division where she provided leadership on the World Trade Organization Doha Round of negotiations as well as the exploratory talks between Canada and the European Union that led to the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Nathalie holds a Bachelor and Master degree in Economics from Laval University, Quebec.
Chris is Crop Protection Advisor at the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) in Guelph, Ontario. OFVGA advocates on behalf of Ontario’s fruit, vegetable and greenhouse farmers and the edible horticulture industry, and represents its members provincially, nationally, and internationally. Chris’ role is to ensure that OFVGA’s member growers have access to the crop protection tools they need to protect their valuable crops. This includes supporting continued access to currently registered crop protection materials and seeking new registrations for edible horticulture crops. Chris also reviews crop protection regulatory policy at both the federal and provincial levels. Chris has worked in roles supporting edible horticulture growers since 2012. He began his career in agricultural extension in Nova Scotia and previously worked for Syngenta Canada prior to joining OFVGA. Chris has a BSc (Agr) degree with a horticulture major and an MSc in plant agriculture from the University of Guelph.
Evan is the New Crop Development Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) based in Simcoe, Ontario. He works on developing information related to specialty crop production and marketing for a range of crops including non-traditional fruits, vegetables, grains, and other crops such as hops and specialty mushrooms. Evan grew up on a hog farm in Cannington, Ontario and prior to joining OMAFRA, he completed a BSc and MSc at the University of Guelph in Plant Agriculture, worked for industry associations, a horticultural farm operation, and as a field technician with the University of Guelph.
Sheri is the Local Development Manager for Sobeys and Foodland Ontario shows her passion for local food and entrepreneurs alike. She is versatile, self-directed and an efficient individual with 29 years experience managing or supporting managers and executives in a fast-paced retail environment. She has held several positions throughout the business and across the province from Department Manager, Store Manager, Computer Automated Ordering Specialist and Grocery Specialist. Her diversified skills include client relations, cultivating strategic relationships, business development, promotional planning and project management. Currently, as part of the Field Merchandising team, she is sourcing, supporting and nurturing local growers and producers across Ontario and has “boots on the ground” looking to strengthen existing and establish new relationships and build partnerships in the company’s strategy of “Winning in Local”.
Ryan grew up on his sixth generation family dairy farm in Leeds and Grenville, Ontario. He attended the University of Waterloo where he had several co-op placements in the GIS field before he graduated with a Bachelor of Geography and Environmental Management. After graduating, he wished to incorporate his education, his interest in programming and machine learning, and his agriculture background into a career, which made SoilOptix® a natural fit.
Dr. Philip Fanning
Dr. Fanning has 10 years of experience working with control of insect pests in agricultural, forestry and cut-foliage production between Ireland and the United States. Until recently, he was a Research Associate at Michigan State University, working extensively with Michigan’s berry growers to help them optimize their IPM programs to mitigate losses from insect pests and conserve beneficial insects. Fanning has worked on multiple nationally coordinated projects involving collaborators across the United States focusing on research to develop practical tools for growers to control the invasive fruit fly spotted-winged Drosophila.
Mark is a Business Management Specialist in OMAFRA’s Business Development Branch and focuses on farm business planning, labour and human resource management, and succession planning. Before joining OMAFRA, Mark held positions in various farm management and agri-food businesses, including Consulting and Education Program Manager and Marketing and Business Development Coordinator.
Dr. Melanie Filotas
Melanie is a Horticulture Pest Management Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Simcoe, Ontario. She works with growers, industry, researchers and ministry colleagues to identify pests and pest management solutions for specialty crops in Ontario. Her current areas of focus include hazelnuts, hops, sweet potatoes, specialty berries and ginseng. Melanie has a PhD in Entomology from Cornell University where she studied biological control of forest insects. Prior to joining OMAFRA, she worked as a researcher with the US Department of Agriculture, looking at use of biopesticides, natural enemies and other reduced risk products to control insects in commercial greenhouses.
John has been acting as a verifier for the MyPick program with Farmers’ Markets Ontario for the past 10 years. The MyPick program promotes individual growers/producers selling only products produced on their farms. It provides the opportunity for customers to know they are buying local produce from a farmer who provides fresh product and reinvests the returns from the business in the local economy. John lives in the Municipality of Brighton in Northumberland County on a family farm.
Andrew is an avid gardener and local food enthusiast. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Growing Chefs! Ontario, a London based charity with a mission to get kids excited about wholesome healthy food. They are working to change the way we teach children, youth and families to develop healthy relationships with the food they eat. Andrew has designed, implemented and coordinated several successful food education programs that have served over 35,000 children, youth and families in London and area. In 2015, Growing Chefs! Ontario was a finalist for the Pillar Community Innovation Awards in the Impact category, and Andrew was named as one of the Top 20 Under Forty - Business London Magazine’s list of Londoners working in the local business community. In 2017 and in 2018 Growing Chefs! was the recipient of a S.W. Ontario Tourism Award for the innovative events hosted at Growing Chefs! headquarters.
Ken is Chair of the Labour Section of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association. He is a broccoli grower from the Hamilton area, and currently president of the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Service (FARMS) and Chair of the Labour Issues Co-ordinating Committee. He also serves on the Trade committee of the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC), and is a past president of both the OFVGA and CHC. In 2013, Ken was among two Ontarians who was awarded the prestigious Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, receiving the recognition for his long and dedicated service to the Farm Work Programme.
Kenny joined the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association board as a director in January 2015. He's a fourth-generation vegetable farmer near Lynden who has been racing cars since he was 12 years old. A graduate of the agricultural program at the University of Guelph, Kenny farms with his father and grandfather.
Poliana received her Master’s degree in Plant Physiology and Development in 2009 from the Federal Univ. of Pelotas in Brazil and got her PhD degree in 2014 in a joint research program from the Federal University of Santa Catarina and Ohio State University. Since then, Poli worked in various postdoctoral research and extension positions at EMPBRAPA and Cornell University focusing on orchard management practices and plant growth regulator use in tree fruit crops. In 2019, Poli joined Valent BioSciences as a Global Technical Development Specialist with main responsibilities in the market and technical development of PGRs in fruit crops around the world. She is based out of VBC’s Chicago Headquarters.
Joanne is Director of Licensing and Security for the Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch at Health Canada. Prior to that, she was Chief of Staff with the Privy Council Office’s Results and Delivery. Her experience includes a blend of policy, issues management, and regulatory operations gained from work with Health Canada's Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization, and the Treasury Board Secretariat's Office of Regulatory Affairs. Joanne holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from Queen’s University.
Brigitte completed a bachelor’s degree in Commerce at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Montreal. She worked for two years as an auditor at the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and left to pursue a long and successful career at Canada Revenue Agency. In 1998, Brigitte joined the SR&ED Program in Montreal as a reviewer and is now a Senior Technical Specialist since 2016.
Morris is a second-generation farmer, who owns and operates Barrie Hill Farms, just outside of Barrie, Ontario. Morris grew up on Barrie Hill Farms, a tobacco farm, which was established by his parents, Adrien and Evelyn, in 1968. In the late 1970s, the farm exited the tobacco industry by beginning to grow pick-your-own strawberries. Throughout the 1980s, Barrie Hill Farms expanded its offerings to include farm fresh asparagus as well as PYO raspberries and PYO blueberries. Morris graduated from the University of Guelph with a degree in agriculture in 1989 and accepted full time employment with Molson Breweries, while continuing to work on the farm during the spring and summer. Following almost four years of employment with Molson, he realized big corporate life was not for him, and began farming full time alongside his parents in 1993. The farm now produces over 200 acres of fruits and vegetables, the majority of which is sold either PYO, or at its on-farm market.
Dr. Adam Gillespie
Dr. Gillespie is a faculty member at the University of Guelph's School of Environmental. He is a soil chemist with a research focus on soil organic matter characterization, mapping and modelling. He has a strong interest in using innovative research and instrumentation to link land management with soil health and sustainable land use. Adam's education includes a BSc (University of Guelph), MSc (University of Saskatchewan) and a PhD (University of Saskatchewan).
Katie has recently joined the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as the Pathologist for horticulture crops. She has a background in applied vegetable pathology from Michigan State University and has been working in the Ontario horticulture industry for the past few years. She recognizes the challenges the horticulture sector is faced with when managing the wide range of diseases and is excited to tackle these in partnership with the sector. One of her areas of focus will be to ensure Ontario growers are informed and aware of the key diseases that impact horticulture crops and to bring new solutions for disease management to the industry in the Great Lakes area.
Dr. Gooch is co-founder and CEO of VCMI, a global consulting company headquartered in Oakville, Ontario. VCMI helps businesses enhance their long-term profitability and environmental sustainability by implementing systems for driving continual improvements in performance. Martin has two decades’ experience in analyzing businesses and value chains to identify where food and related waste occurs and why, and has authored or co-authored numerous publications on this topic, including the January 2019 report, “The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste.” Martin is Co-Chair of PAC Food Waste, and lead author of CPMA’s December 2019 report “A landscape review of plastics in the Canadian fresh produce sector.” Martin holds a PhD and Master’s degree in agri-food management and a Bachelor of International Business. In 2017, the OPMA awarded Martin the Cory Clack-Streef “Produce Industry Person of the Year” award for assisting Ontario’s produce industry to benefit from reducing food loss and waste.
Andrew obtained his undergraduate degree in Microbiology from the University of Guelph. He also obtained an MSc from the University of Guelph in Food Science with his thesis researching into the application of LED lights for produce decontamination. He is currently a PhD candidate within the Department of Food Science doing research into the significance of bacterial dormancy in food safety.
Teric grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He ran a small vegetable farm in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia for three years before starting Nexus Robotics. He spoke to larger producers at the local farmers’ market about challenges with weeding and other repetitive tasks. A few of Teric’s friends who are engineers agreed to help build a robot that could solve some of these challenges. Nexus began building prototype version 1, named R2-Weed2, in the fall of 2017. The technology was first trialed on Elmridge Farm in Nova Scotia this past summer. The mission of Nexus Robotics is to create innovative robotic software that can help farmers reduce labour expenses, reduce dependence on herbicides and increase yields.
Linda was born and raised in the Niagara region. She went to Graceland University, in southern Iowa, and received her BA in Education. She moved to Arizona to teach and while there she earned her MA in Education. She quit teaching shortly thereafter to return to Niagara with her family to work alongside her father, Ernie Grimo, at Grimo Nut Nursery. She helps to manage the farm from the business side and in the fields as well. Linda is actively involved in research to breed heartnuts to select the best cracking heart shaped nut. They also continue to breed hazels to find disease resistant cultivars suited for our Ontario climate. They dig and ship trees in the spring, and harvest the nuts from their test/research orchards in the fall selling the surplus crops to local residents. She is a director for the Niagara North Federation of Agriculture, the Northern Nut Growers Association and is the past president of the Ontario Hazelnut Association.
Dr. Iago Hale
After studying Physics (BA) at Dartmouth College and living and working internationally for a number of years, Iago attended the University of California Davis, where he earned his MS in International Agricultural Development and PhD in Horticulture and Agronomy (Plant Breeding specialization). In 2013, Iago launched a long-term research and breeding program for kiwiberry (Actinidia arguta) at UNH, with the aim of developing improved varieties and best commercial practices for New England. Inspired by the potential of plant breeding to enhance health, rural livelihoods, food security, and ecosystem integrity, Iago is involved in variety of other projects as well, from pre-breeding (gene discovery and characterization) for rust resistance in wheat to developing bioinformatic tools to support the improvement of orphan crop species. Iago teaches a graduate-level course on the design, analysis, and interpretation of experiments at UNH and is a core instructor for the UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy.
Dr. Andrew Hammermeister
Dr. Hammermeister is the Director of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC) and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. He has a BSc in Agriculture specializing in Soil Science from the University of Saskatchewan, MSc in Land Reclamation and PhD in Applied Ecology from the University of Alberta. Andrew has worked with the (OACC) since 2002, collaborating in research on grain, vegetable and fruit cropping systems, exploring soil fertility and weed management. Most recently he has been studying small bush fruits such as haskap, landscape biodiversity, and applications of smart technologies to organic agriculture. Andrew is the Science Director for the Organic Science Cluster, the coordinated national initiative for organic agricultural research in Canada.
Christy is a Vegetable Specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Vegetable Program in Western New York, a position she has held since 2001. She conducts on-farm applied farm research projects and demonstrations, and educational programming in onions, cabbage, broccoli and garlic. She has a BSc in Environmental Toxicology and a MSc in Plant Pathology and Applied Entomology from the University of Guelph. In 2018, she was the recipient of the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension and Outreach.
Will is the Chief Daymaker at Heeman’s, an award-winning, multi-generational family-run experiential garden centre and berry farm serving the London area. After graduating from university, Will took a sabbatical working at a garden centre in New Zealand before returning the family business. He helped introduce a new generation of clients (guests) to the business by adding new offerings, new marketing approaches and innovating their space all while staying true to the longstanding values and ‘feel’ existing clients came to love over 50+ years. Over the last decade, both customer visits and sales have grown rapidly. Will is past president of the Ontario Berry Growers, has been called ‘someone to watch’ in the greenhouse industry, has been honoured on numerous ‘Under 40’ lists and was 2016’s Young Retailer of the Year for North America.
Chris grew up on a commercial honeybee farm and graduated with a diploma in Horticulture from U of Guelph in 1990. He produced bumblebees for greenhouse pollination, and later purchased his parent’s bee farm in 2000. Now he is focused on agri-tourism, hosting over 50,000 guests annually at the Clovermead Adventure Farm, where visitors can learn about bees, farm animals, crops and play outdoors.
Christy is a Vegetable Specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Vegetable Program in Western New York, a position she has held since 2001. She conducts on-farm applied farm research projects and demonstrations, and educational programming in onions, cabbage, broccoli and garlic. She has a BSc in Environmental Toxicology and a MSc in Plant Pathology and Applied Entomology from the University of Guelph. In 2018, she was the recipient of the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension and Outreach.
Friedhelm grew up in Germany and graduated from the Farmer’s Trade Program and the University for Agronomy. He worked at a variety of different farms before emigrating to Canada in 1998. His Canadian work experience includes over 7 years at Suntastic Hothouse and Veri Hydroponics as a Greenhouse Grower and Manager for tomatoes and 12 years as General Operating Manager for Exeter Produce, a large vegetable fresh market and cash crop operation producing high quality produce. During this time, he worked closely on field and vegetable crop fertility to increase both plant health and yield and in collaboration with his team, developed a fertigation program implementing precision orientated agriculture. Since 2017, Friedhelm works at Lakeside Grain & Feed Limited in Forest, Ontario, building and operating the Precision Agriculture Compliance Excellence part of the business.
Wendy is CEO of Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery. The company started as a cranberry farm in 1950. Since marrying a second-generation cranberry grower in 1981, Wendy has led company diversification into the establishment of a winery and into the development and expansion as a tourism destination. Wendy's credentials include sommelier and an MBA from University of Guelph in agri-business, hospitality & tourism.
Jessica holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Wilfrid Laurier University. Since joining EarthFresh full-time in 2011, Jessica has held a variety of roles gaining knowledge in different aspects of the business and of the potato industry. Most recently, as the Director of Innovation, she is working on new product development with the focus on sustainability, creativity, and the extension of product shelf life. She is also working along-side the President building the Company’s Exclusive Variety Program and learning the nuances of breeding, intellectual property rights, and seed farming.
Earl has spent most of his life in the global OEM automotive electronics industry. He has managed new start-ups, R and D, high-volume manufacturing facilities, formed numerous international technology partnerships, and has been an active member of the Board of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association. In 2016, Earl was selected to be 1 of 6 Hazelnut Trial Farm Growers as a part of a special research initiative created by the Ontario Hazelnut Assoc. (OHA). He currently has 12 acres with 17 hazelnut cultivars on his 100 acre farm near Uxbridge. He is a member of the OHA Board, and chairs the R&D Committee. Earl and his wife Roselyn are learning a lot about the challenges, cold hardiness and suitability of hazelnut cultivars in this climate zone 5 environment.
Neslihan works as a Wine Quality Specialist through a unique collaboration between Acadia University and Perennia, connecting directly with the industry to maximize the quality of wines produced in Nova Scotia. Her position rounds out Perennia’s offering to the grape and wine sector as expertise is available from soil to wine through this collaboration. Neslihan holds an MSc of Viticulture and Enology from Montpellier SupAgro (France), Bordeaux Science Agro (France) and Polytechnic University of Madrid (Spain). She specializes in sparkling wine production and non-Saccharomyces yeasts, with her published MSc thesis research and published scientific articles. She has a BSc in Food Engineering from Middle East Technical University with an associate degree of Business Management (Turkey) and food science education from University of Bologna (Italy). She has international winemaking experience, including Turkey, Spain, France, Chile, USA, and Canada.
Claude is the author of "The New Cider Maker's Handbook", an important reference book on the topic of cider making. He has also authored "Du pommier au cidre" in French. A mechanical engineer and research scientist by profession, he started 30 years ago making cider as a hobby. Since then he has accumulated a vast experience, always searching to obtain the highest quality possible. His ciders have earned many awards at competitions, including a Best of Show at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP). Mr. Jolicoeur actively participates in discussion forums such as the Cider Digest and Cider Workshop, and is invited as a guest speaker or as a judge to cider events all over the world. He currently works on the evaluation of wild native apples for the establishment of collections of high quality cider varieties that are well adapted to eastern Canada conditions.
Charles is a first generation farmer and nursery man. After graduation from Nova Scotia Agriculture College in 1973, he worked in the industry for 7 years. Charles purchased his first small farm in 1977 and along with his wife Doris, started Keddy's Nursery in 1979, selling certified strawberry plants and raspberry canes. This year marks the 41st year of operation and now includes their son Philip and his wife Kattie. Charles is past president of Horticulture Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and the North American Strawberry Growers Association. At present he is Chairman of the Board of Perennia, an Agriculture and Fisheries development and extension company.
Habib is a Professional Engineer in telecommunications and electrical engineering. After many years in the industry, he joined the SR&ED Program in Quebec City in 1998 and in Montreal in 1999 as a Research and Technology Advisor and shortly after as a Research and Technology Manager . In November 2009, Habib joined the SR&ED Directorate (HQ) as the National Technology Sector Specialists’ Manager and acted for a few years as a Director of the Technical Guidance Division as well as a the Science and Technology Division. He is now in charge of the Operational Support and Technical Guidance team within the SR&ED Directorate.
Dr. S. Kaan Kurtural
Dr. Kurtural joined the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis November 2015 as a new Cooperative Extension Specialist in Viticulture. Dr. Kurtural’s research focuses on three main parts with short and long-term outcomes: 1) improving production efficiency in vineyards by applying principles of canopy and crop load management using vineyard mechanization and applied water amounts; 2) identifying quality improvement traits in berry composition by translating fundamental research into applied production practices in vineyards; 3) evaluating alternative methods of control invasive species in vineyards. Dr. Kurtural has statewide appointment and travels California’s grape growing regions providing extension and outreach to grape growers, working with county farm advisors and conducting research projects. He and his laboratory team are based at UC Davis’s Oakville Station in Napa Valley. This research and experimental station includes a 40-acre research vineyard, the Harry E. Jacob Research Facility and the Robert J. Barone Laboratory. For more than 50 years, the V&E Department has conducted viticulture research at this site with field trials for grapevine rootstocks and clones, vine spacing, pruning levels, irrigation and many other aspects of viticulture and vineyard operations. Kurtural has done extensive research on mechanized canopy management and precision viticulture for optimizing grape yields and quality in California. His research interests include precision viticulture; vineyard mechanization for optimizing crop load, yield efficiency and sustainability; whole grapevine physiology; and irrigation deficits, scheduling, application and their interactive effects with cropping levels on vine and grape flavonoid biosynthesis.
Joel is a micro-cultivation cannabis licence holder and owner of Hearst Organic Cannabis Products in Ontario. After several months of planning, building a greenhouse, retrofitting an existing building and preparing an application, his business received a Health Canada license in July 2019.
Frederick is an agricultural professional working in berry fruit production since 1989. He earned a Bachelor's degree in agronomy in 1986 and a Master in vegetal biology from Laval University in 1989. He is a member of the Ordre des Agronomes du Québec since 1987. Frederick is the co-owner of Phytoclone Inc., a tissue culture operation dedicated to berry plant certification and ornamental propagation since 1992. He worked as a consultant in greenhouse production until 1998 and started working part-time for Lareault Nursery. As research activities increased with Lareault nursery, he started working as R&D director in 2008. Selections and variety evaluations led to the introduction of Lareault’s exclusivity.
Heather is an extension specialist at Penn State Entomology specializing in spotted lanternfly. She is an applied entomologist by training and has previously worked with other invasive pests including spotted wing Drosophila and the brown marmorated stink bug. She has predominantly worked in specialty fruit crops including raspberries, blueberries, tree fruit, and grapes. She is a native of Michigan and received her MS in Entomology from Michigan State University.
Dr. Catherine Lindell
Catherine is an Associate Professor in the Integrative Biology Department at Michigan State University with a joint appointment at the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations. Her work combines theoretical and applied approaches to the study of the behavior and ecology of birds and the roles of birds in the functioning of ecosystems. One line of research investigates bird activity in fruit-production systems and how this activity contributes to pest management. Another research objective is to determine how to make managed landscapes more hospitable for species that contribute significant ecosystem services. Dr. Lindell has worked extensively with American kestrels, small falcons that can be attracted to fruit orchards and vineyards with nest boxes. The kestrels deter and eat many fruit pests including rodents, insects, and fruit-eating birds. Dr. Lindell collaborates with social scientists to understand economic and social components of pest management performed by birds in managed ecosystems.
Richard is the Proprietor and President of Ironwood Cider in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Established in 2013, Ironwood is a 20,000 case producer and distributes across Ontario. Richard is currently the Chair of Ontario Craft Cider Association, advocating the growth of craft cider industry in the province. Prior to founding the Cider House, Richard started his career at J.P. Morgan and Weber Shandwick in various marketing roles.
Dave is the Certification Manager for the Eastern Regional Office of Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd. He has over 12 years experience in the organic certification industry and over 20 years of experience in the Agri-Food industry. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in Agri-Food from Laval University and a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph.
Portia is the Executive Director of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC), Canada’s AgriWorkforce Centre of Excellence. Through collaboration, the Council researches emerging labour issues, modern job requirements, position vacancies and labour impacts to competitiveness. CAHRC also develops practical staff management tools and training programs to grow the AgriWorkforce and ensure it is skilled and resilient for future success. Portia holds a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and has a wealth of experience in strategic Human Resource Management. She is an active contributor to many industry initiatives and is currently guiding the national Labour Task Force and the Agriculture & Agri-food Workforce Action Plan.
Dr. David Manktelow
Dr. Manktelow apprenticed for 14 years in government research and extension where he completed a PhD on refinement of tree row volume spraying for the then new intensive dwarf apple plantings. David have been working as an independent researcher, educator and consultant for the last 17 years. He has worked across a wide range of fruit and vegetable crops focusing on the development and maintenance of sustainable production systems – in all aspects of agrichemical use and pesticide application. David is really excited by current developments in crop canopy scanning and sensing and the potential this holds for spray application technology and application rate and volume decisions.
Hugh is an organic inspector and consultant working with organic farms for over 35 years. He is also chair of the National Standards Committee on Organic Agriculture. He retired from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food, and Rural Affairs in 2011, after 34 years.
Janine is a graduate of the Interior Design program at Sheridan College. She currently works as a design consultant specializing in colour marketing and creative visual solutions. She is able to help create, curate and manage social media content, assist with colour trend forecasting needs, as well as colour and design consulting. Janine works with residential renovators, contractors, professionals in the architectural coatings industry and other businesses to communicate their visual marketing needs to diverse target audiences. She is currently is the Chair of Marketing and Communications for the Ontario Lavender Association. Ms. May is also a part of the international Color Marketing Group.
Margaret has a long history of program delivery with OSCIA. She loves to interact with primary producers to find programs and projects that fit their needs to make changes to their businesses. She facilitates Growing Your Farm Profits workshops, Environmental Farm Plan workshops and Biosecurity workshops for all commodities. Her family farms near Glencoe Ontario with beef cows, sheep and field crops.
Dr. Wendy McFadden-Smith
Dr. McFadden-Smith has been the Tender Fruit and Grape IPM Specialist with OMAFRA, Vineland since 2008. She is adjunct professor and sessional lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences and a CCOVI Professional Affiliate at Brock University. She has worked on projects including modeling grape berry moth populations, etiology and management of sour rot of grape, biology and management of black knot and bacterial spot of stone fruit, fungicide resistance in brown rot of cherry, integrated management of fire blight and grapevine leafroll and red blotch viruses and their vectors.
Kelty grew up in London, Ontario. She attended Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and received an honours Bachelor of Science in Forestry. After graduation, Kelty returned to husband Alex’s family farm in Port Perry. Kelty joined the McKay family in running the daily operations of Willowtree Farm and helped grow their existing business. Today, she manages the kitchen/bakery/ café, the CSA program, healthy school fundraisers, school tours as well as helps to manage the farm production and labour. Since joining the family farm, Kelty received a Premiers Award for her healthy food fundraiser program and last year, the McKay family was honoured to be named one of Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2018.
Kris has worked at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus as a Research Associate for 18 years with the Horticultural Weeds research team, conducting research on crops such as sweet corn, tomato, cole crops, blueberries, cover crops and many others. While she has worked with vegetable crops for a number of years now, she grew up north of London on a cow-calf and cash crop farm and completed her education both at McMaster University and the University of Guelph.
Dr. Vivien Measday
Dr. Measday is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Wine Research Centre in the Department of Food Science, Faculty of Land and Food Systems. She is collaborating with wineries in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley to characterize vineyard-associated yeast populations by using spontaneous fermentation to enrich for enologically relevant yeast, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae and non-Saccharomyces yeast species. The goal of Dr. Measday’s research program is to characterize the microbial terroir of the Okanagan Valley and assess its potential contribution to the sensory profiles of wines made by spontaneous fermentation.
Stuart is a Business Analyst with the Business Transformation Branch of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. In his line of work, Stuart works with software developers and various program areas to help develop the Permissions Enterprise Platform – the system used for the electronic issuance and registry of environmental permissions. Since joining the ministry in 2016, Stuart has worked on the development of the ministry’s electronic Pesticides Licencing System, Permit to Take Water, and Environmental Activity and Sector Registry.
John has been the Business Analysis and Cost of Production Specialist with OMAFRA for the past 19 years. He leads financial benchmarking projects and develops crop and livestock cost of production budgeting tools. He has been involved with several cost of production studies for horticulture crops such as grapes, tender fruit, apples and recently hazelnuts. John has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business from the University of Guelph.
Jessica has 17 years of combined experience in the area of food safety, as a front-line public health inspector, and currently in a management role at Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. She sits as the chair of the ASPHIO (Association of Supervisors of Public Health Inspectors in Ontario) Food Safety Committee, and is inspired and passionate about the world of farmers’ markets. She aims to act as a resource to help bridge the work of public health and food safety, in collaboration with Farmers’ Markets Ontario.
Stephen is the Team Lead in the Business Analysis and Resources Unit, with the Business Development Branch for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The Business Development Branch (BDB) supports economic growth across Ontario’s agri-food value chain by helping rural communities, organizations, and businesses to prosper. He is currently supports the development and implementation of the economic development aspect of the Canadian Agriculture Partnership. Stephen also supported the development of the Ministry’s new Agriculture Economic Development Resource and works with the OFA on the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice sessions.
Jake is a Soil Management Specialist for Field Crops with OMAFRA. He has expertise in soil fertility, soil health and cover crop management. Through field days, plot demonstrations, and presentations, Jake shares information with Ontario producers on best management practices to improve soil health and crop production. He is a member of the OMAFRA Soil Team and a Certified Crop Advisor.
Christian is associate professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis, California. His research and teaching hinge on development and promotion of solutions within the broad frameworks of sustainable food production and pest management. Use of remote sensing technologies plays a key role in his research.
Kristen has a master’s degree in weed science from the University of Manitoba and an honors bachelor of science degree in agriculture from the University of Guelph. As OMAFRA’s Weed Management Specialist for Horticulture crops, she leads the development, coordination and implementation of programs related to weed management issues in Ontario. Kristen is a past recipient of the Deputy Minister's Award for her work as a provincial vegetable specialist and the recent recipient of the Excellence in Weed Science Extension Award from the Canadian Weed Science Society (CWSS) for her current work. Kristen previously spent several years with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and in the private sector coordinating research trials in support of new product registrations.
After attending the University of Guelph and working in the United Kingdom, Kara returned home to the family farm, Brantwood Farms in Brantford Ontario. She works with her family on their fruit and vegetable farm, managing their farm market, marketing and events. Since returning, Kara has worked to develop a customer focused marketing strategy for the farm and to develop and promote a wide range of on farm events.
Sophie joined the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in 2009 as a Research and Technology Advisor (RTA) for the agriculture sector. Since 2017, she is the National Technology Sector Specialist for the Agriculture, Food Processing and Forestry sectors. She develops sector specific guidance material on SR&ED, as well as providing support to RTAs reviewing SR&ED claims in agriculture, food processing and forestry. She is a member of the Ordre des agronomes du Québec since 2000, and holds a bachelor’s degree in agronomy. She then completed a masters and a PhD in plant biology at Université Laval. She has been a visiting researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Canberra, Australia) in 2005, before being a post-doctoral fellow, in 2006, at the Soils and Crops Research and Development Centre (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada). Her research focused on several fields of agricultural science, including plant physiology, animal nutrition and soil fertility.
Matt is passionate about horticulture. His passion started as a young man, working on a peach farm, helping his mother garden and travelling with his father to “help” install equipment at fruit and vegetable farms across Canada. This inspired him to attend the University of Guelph to earn his BSc Agr. (Hon. Hort.). Since his graduation in 2006, Matt has enjoyed working in his family’s century-old horticultural solutions businesses: Provide Agro and N.M. Bartlett, and is currently the Niagara sales rep and business development manager. He enjoys the daily challenge of working with farmers and other ag businesses to develop innovative solutions to new issues. Matt has served on the OFVC planning committee since 2007 and has been president for the last 5 years.
Robert founded TekPak Solutions in 2007 and has been actively involved in printing and packaging for over 40 years. He has been developing and promoting environmentally responsible packaging for 15 years. Robert is a voting member of the ASTM on several committees involved in biodegradable and compostable standards since 2010 helping shape the course of many new standards and preventing greenwashing from contaminating the ASTM. TekPak Solutions is also a member of Sustainable Hamilton/Burlington since 2011. Robert has received several awards and recognition for his work including: Certificate of Excellence in New Technology from The National Research Council of Canada in 2012; Award of Recognition from the Global Leadership and Innovation Summit for Omnidegradable Packaging, addressing the issue of Waste Management, 2014 and the Environmental Innovation Award – Sustainable Hamilton/Burlington 2016.
Dr. Sudarsana Poojari
Sudarsana is a Senior Scientist at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI). Sud received his PhD in Plant Pathology from Washington State University in 2013. Before joining CCOVI, Sud completed his NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Summerland, BC. Currently, Sud leads the national grapevine virus testing facility at CCOVI and his research is focused on advanced molecular diagnostics and epidemiology and management of grapevine virus diseases.
Philip was born and raised in the Ottawa Valley. After a brief career in banking, he applied to a newspaper ad offering “an unusual and stimulating opportunity for a hands-on manager” with the City of Ottawa. That led to a 30-year career managing Ottawa’s historic ByWard and Parkdale Markets. For his last ten years with the city, he was also responsible for the business licensing and by-law enforcement divisions where he developed Ottawa’s new street food program. Philip’s passion for markets and local food saw him serve as treasurer and chair of Farmers’ Markets Ontario and as a founding member of Savour Ottawa, the Capital’s “buy local” culinary initiative. Philip now works locally and internationally sharing his farmers’ market and municipal government expertise.
F.A.R.M.S. is non-profit organization federally incorporated in 1987 to facilitate and coordinate the requests for foreign seasonal agricultural workers. This 50 year old program is a trilateral international agreement between Canada, Caribbean and Mexico (government and worker representatives) and Canadian farmers. Carrie oversees all facets of the daily operations at F.A.R.M.S. including worker application processing and changes, employer/worker issues and works closely with the government agents involved.
Dr. Justin Renkema
Dr. Renkema is a Research Scientist in Entomology at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Vineland, Ontario. Justin completed his PhD at Dalhousie University (2007-2011), studying blueberry maggot, and then worked on spotted wing drosophila in berry crops as a post-doctoral researcher at University of Guelph (2012-2015). He was Assistant Professor of Entomology at University of Florida (2015-2018), with a research and extension program focused on pest management in strawberries and blueberries. Justin’s current research program includes projects on vineyard, tree fruit and berry crop entomology. He is working on testing and developing chemical, physical and biological control methods for major fruit pests and studying plant-insect-pathogen interactions to improve pest management.
Ellen is an entrepreneur who has been in business since 1978, owning retail shops and a needlework manufacturing company with international customers before opening Beagle Ridge Herb Farm. She presently is busy providing classes, wholesale and retail sales of her bath and body product line and operates a successful agritourism site in Wythe County, Virginia. She opened Beagle Ridge in 2001 and since its inception has hosted visitors from 50 states and 29 foreign countries. She sits on several local, regional and national boards and is active in the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs. Although the farm grows hundreds of herb varieties, they specialize in Lavender, with 14 varieties in the ground. As a former board member of the US Lavender Growers Association, she teaches an intensive 2 day Lavender Academy at the farm for aspiring Lavender farmers. When not digging in the dirt at the farm, she speaks and consults with Lavender growers nationwide.
Dr. Ron Runnebaum
Dr. Runnebaum works on improving processes for more sustainable use of natural resources, including those important in winemaking. These processes involve development and use of solid materials that can be regenerated and reused and can replace chemicals used and reduce solid waste produced. Dr. Runnebaum’s wine research includes seeking alternatives for removing potassium bitartrate and proteins. Prof. Runnebaum earned his MS in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. During that time, he worked in the cellars of J. F. Mugnier in Burgundy, France and of Hanzell Vineyards and Acacia Winery, in Sonoma and Napa, California. Ron pursued his PhD in Chemical Engineering working on the catalytic conversion of biomass to value-added chemicals and fuels. Prof. Runnebaum completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, in aspects of chemical catalysis, where his work was published in journals including Nature Nano, J. Am Chem. Soc., and ACS Catalysis.
Daniel is a Land Resource Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in Guelph, Ontario. Previous to this role, Daniel was primarily working in the private sector as a soil scientist with a focus on soil survey, classification and mapping. His role at OMAFRA is to lead, in a technical capacity, Ontario’s soil survey and mapping program. This includes maintaining the Ontario Soil Survey Complex database, leading new soil survey programs to support OMAFRA’s initiative to update soil maps across agricultural regions of Ontario, and providing interpretation of soil resource information, such as soil classification and CLI agricultural capability ratings. Daniel is an active member of the soil science community as a member of the Canadian Society of Soil Science, the Canadian Digital Soil Mapping Workgroup, and volunteers his expertise to promote soil science through events such as the Envirothon, the Soils Roadshow, Zone Smart and other public events.
Bill is a fourth generation grape grower in St. Catharines. In 2009, he was elected Grape King by his fellow growers. In 2010, Bill was elected to the Grape Growers of Ontario Growers (GGO) Committee. Bill is currently the Vice Chair of the GGO board. In addition, Bill also serves as Vice-Chair of the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN-RCCV). This board was incorporated in 2017 with a mandate to advance the Canadian Grape and Wine Industry by ensuring a sustainable domestic supply of clean-certified grape vine material. CGCN-RCCV is also the lead for the Grape and Wine Science Cluster which is administered through the Agriculture and Agrifood Canada.
Dr. Guido Schnabel
Dr. Schnabel is a Professor and Extension Plant Pathologist at Clemson University with over 30 years of experience working with pathogens of fruit crops. His research in the area of pesticide science focuses on molecular mechanisms of fungicide resistance and the development of control options for diseases of peach and strawberry. He developed the MyIPM smartphone app frequently used by growers, county agents, consultants, and specialists to implement IPM practices. He has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles. For his efforts and documented impact on disease management in fruit production, he received the Clemson University 2017/2018 Centennial Professorship, the 2015 Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Research, as well as two national awards from the American Phytopathological Society. Dr. Schnabel has been named Associate Editor in 2019 of the prestigious journal Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology.
Joe is Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society which has the mission of separating sense from nonsense. He is the recipient of numerous awards for teaching chemistry and for interpreting science for the public. “Dr Joe” has hosted a radio show on science for forty years, has appeared hundreds of times on television, writes a regular newspaper column and is the author of eighteen best-sellers. He has been awarded honorary degrees by Athabasca University, Cape Breton University, the University of Windsor and Simon Fraser University. Professor Schwarcz is also an amateur magician and often spices up his presentations with a little magic.
Kate is a Horticulturist, Garden Designer, Garden Décor Expert, Professional Organizer, Entrepreneur and Lifestyle Coach. Before deciding to pursue her passion for gardening, Kate spent 20 years in the corporate world, serving as a senior executive for two large Canadian companies with a focus on Leadership Training and Organization Development, Process Reengineering and Human Resources. As well as a Botanical Boutique, Kate’s Garden specializes in gardening services and offering a wide array of workshops. Media trained, Kate is a frequent horticultural speaker and television guest.
Rebecca is the irrigation/water management engineer with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Her role with the Ministry involves helping Ontario producers improve their production by providing irrigation and water management expertise to the province. Rebecca is the co-author of many OMAFRA irrigation publications including the Irrigation Best Management Practices book. Most recently, Rebecca has developed demonstrations and presentations on water efficiency and soil moisture monitoring. Her specialty includes water permitting and drip irrigation. In addition to irrigation, Rebecca develops solutions for other agricultural water uses such as fruit and vegetable washing. Rebecca holds a MSc and BSc from McGill University in Agricultural Engineering and has been active in water and irrigation associations across Canada and the US.
Peter has over 10 years’ experience in the market research industry managing a variety of quantitative and quantitative-qualitative hybrid research projects. His work has included brand and advertising tracking and testing, consumer and shopper segmentations, product category usage & attitudes studies, concept testing, in-store shopper research, and product line optimization. Peter is known for his curiosity, creativity, and passion for uncovering insights that drive action for his clients. A majority of Peter’s market research experience is in the Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail sectors, but his experience also spans a range of other industry sectors including B2B (professional services firms, commercial real estate), telecommunications, and financial services. Peter has an Honours Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.
Ann is a small-scale organic market gardener who has sold her fresh organic vegetables at the St. Marys Farmers' Market since it opened in 1992, along with operating a 40+ member CSA. She has served on the board of the St. Marys Farmers' Market for much of its history and is currently the chair of the board. Ann is on the board of Farmers' Markets Ontario and has past experience as a board member of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario and the National Farmers Union.
Dr. Jocelyn Smith
Jocelyn is a research scientist in field crop entomology, specializing in insect resistance management for transgenic corn. Her research activities include collaboration with commodity organizations, seed and pesticide industries, public researchers, and government specialists to develop management strategies for key pests in corn, soybeans, and wheat in Ontario.
Jayasankar (Jay) Subramanian
Jay has over 25 years of experience in horticulture, especially fruit crop improvement in India, US and Canada. He has worked with diverse crop species and for the past 18 years has been working with tender fruits - both using conventional and contemporary approaches. He has developed and released 14 improved varieties in India and Canada. He is an investigator in several provincial, national and International grants such as IDRC and has obtained over 10 million dollars in grants as PI or Co-PI. He has invited to present his work at several national and International organizations including the UN General Assembly’s Market Place in New York and at the Global Affairs Canada, Ottawa. He is a member of the editorial board in three International Journals and has reviewed manuscripts for over 20 International journals. He has published 95 research articles, co-edited 3 books, has 8 patents and 20 PBRs.
Dr. Antonet M. Svircev
Dr. Svircev is a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Vineland, Ontario, specializing in the control of the fire blight pathogen in apples and pears. Current research programs include studying tree fruit decline in Ontario and the development of bacteriophages as biological control agents for control of bacterial plant pathogens. Currently, Dr. Svircev is a member of a multidisciplinary team of AAFC scientists that are conducting research on the identification of abiotic and biotic factors that may be contributing to tree fruit decline in Ontario apple and tender fruit orchards. The biological control development research involves studying bacteriophage-pathogen interactions, optimization of an epiphytic bacterium as phage delivery system, bacterial host resistance mechanisms and optimization of phage therapy under field based trials.
Sheena has worked in the non-profit industry for over 5 years and has over 10 years of marketing experience in the public and private sectors. She is a strong believer in community partnerships, particularly in the Agri-Food Sector. Prior to joining 4-H Ontario as their Manager of Communications, Sheena managed the Georgetown Farmers’ Market and Business Improvement Area. Born in Toronto and raised in Georgetown, she is passionate about community, the importance of agriculture in Ontario, 4-H, and of course, Farmers’ Markets!
Matthew is a fourth generation strawberry farmer based in the Niagara region and has grown up on the farm his whole life. After graduating from Niagara College with a Horticulture Technician degree, Matt officially joined the family run business in 2011. He helps run the IPM program on the farm with help from his uncle Jeff. He has also played a role in implementing an outdoor biological program which has had a great impact on the industry. Matt is also involved in the daily tractor work and enjoys scouting the fields to make sure all is in check.
Margaret (Meg) Tuttle McGrath
Margaret is an Associate Professor with Cornell University located at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center since 1988. She conducts research and extension activities on optimizing management of diseases affecting vegetable crops and herbs within organic as well as conventional production systems. Activities include investigating fungicide resistance primarily in the cucurbit powdery mildew pathogen, monitoring occurrence of diseases, and evaluating management practices: resistant varieties, cultural practices including reduced tillage and mustard biofumigation, fungicides, biopesticides and other organic fungicides.
Dr. José Ramón Úrbez-Torres
Dr. Úrbez-Torres is a Research Scientist at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Summerland Research and Development Centre in British Columbia and serves as Adjunct Professor in the Biology Department at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus. He received a postgraduate Master’s degree in viticulture, enology and wine marketing in 2001 from the International Social Science Council and the degree of Agricultural Engineering in 2004 from the University of Valladolid in Spain. He completed a PhD in Plant Pathology in 2009 at the University of California Davis. Dr. Úrbez-Torres has studied diseases of woody perennial crops, primarily grapevines, since 1999 and his current research focuses on the development and implementation of sustainable management strategies for fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases of grapevines and tree fruits in Canada. Dr. Úrbez-Torres is the current Chair of the International Council on Grapevine Trunk Diseases.
Bram Van den Heuvel
Bram joined the Stonecrest Engineering team in 2005 and was raised in the agricultural sector. Originally from the Netherlands and raised on lands devoted to a variety of outdoor as well as greenhouse crops, he brings a wealth of knowledge pertinent to agricultural engineering and its associated development. He is currently specializing in site specific rural engineering projects that are agriculturally related such as distilleries, meaderies, vegetable, ginseng and cannabis developments. Vast knowledge of current legislation, site planning and associated processes have proven to play a key factor in assisting farmers to obtain the necessary approvals for development.
Dennis Van Dyk
Dennis is a vegetable crop specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Guelph, ON. His portfolio of crops includes potato, carrot, parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, radish and horseradish. Dennis is involved in applied research projects and tech transfer of IPM and production information to growers. His background is in plant pathology with a strong emphasis on nematology. Dennis has worked extensively on nematode issues in carrot production as well as projects on disease and insect forecasting, insecticide resistance, phosphorous management, weed control, application technologies, and post-harvest issues.
John Van de Vegte
John has a Masters of Engineering degree from the University of Toronto and was registered as a Professional Engineer in Ontario in 1989. Since that time, he has filled roles of engineering and management roles in a variety of industries including environmental, automotive, custom automation, pharmaceutical and renewable energy. Most recently, John worked at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre as Project Manager, Robotics and Automation. It was during this time that John became more aware of the challenges facing the agricultural industry in Ontario. John joined the Innovation, Engineering and Program Delivery Unit of Environmental Management Branch in August 2015. As an Engineering Specialist, John has been working on a variety of projects related to technology development, livestock welfare, barn fire reduction, air quality in livestock barns and process optimization.
Mat is a partner in the Hounds of Erie Winery, a new boutique family owned winery in the emerging wine region of Norfolk County. The Hounds of Erie winery specializes in small batch hand crafted premium wines and ciders. Mat has been a winemaker since 2007. In addition to the winery, Mat is also a seasoned professional planner, and is attending the University of Waterloo for his PhD in City Planning.
Dr. Ana Cristina Vega Lugo
Dr. Vega Lugo is the Senior Food Scientist for the Canadian Food & Wine Institution Innovation Centre, part of the Research & Innovation Division at the College. Ana Cristina is responsible for managing the research/student team and resources required for all product and process innovation, food safety, analytical lab and label compliance services, and other technical service and applied research activities. A trained food engineer and scientist with a PhD degree in food science, Ana Cristina has 10 years’ experience in food science and commercialization, including in development, troubleshooting and applicable packaging science and technology. Her most recent position was with Hela Spice Canada as a senior product developer.
Robb is the Market Strategies and Business Opportunities Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. In this role, Robb provides information related to commodity marketing, evaluation of marketing opportunities, and business assessments for farmers and agri-food processors. Prior to working with OMAFRA, Robb worked in a wide variety of industries, including grain elevators, manufacturing and telecommunications. Robb has obtained his Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. Robb attended the Radio College of Canada where he obtained an electronics engineering degree as well as the University of Guelph, where he studied management economics and earned an MBA.
Dr. Keith Warriner
Dr. Warriner is currently a Professor within the Department of Food Science at University of Guelph. He received his BSc in Food Science from the University of Nottingham, UK and PhD in Microbial Physiology from the University College of Wales Aberystwyth, UK. Dr. Warriner joined the Faculty of the University of Guelph in 2002. During the last fifteen years in the field of microbiology and food safety research, Dr. Warriner has published more than 100 papers, book chapters, patents, and conference abstracts. His research interests are focused on enhancing food safety within meat processing, fresh cut sectors and more recently, in the area of marijuana edibles. To this end, his research team have advanced knowledge in the area of emerging pathogens, intervention technologies and development of biosensor devices to detection of foodborne hazards. He was awarded the Ontario Innovation of the Year award in 2017 and OCE Mind to Market award in 2018 for contribution to developing fresh-produce decontamination technologies. He is the past President of the Ontario Food Protection Association and is currently the Chair of the University of Guelph Biosafety committee, Department Graduate Coordinator and Director of the OMAFRA HQP Scholarship program.
Steve is the creative force of Bright Light Communications. His primary role is that of a creative storyteller, translating complicated business matter into effective messaging across all communication channels. He is a conceptual thinker with strong creative vision and a skilled multi-tasker who can balance communication excellence with business objectives and priorities. Being a strong advocate for local food and agriculture led Bright Light Communications to develop Harvest Ontario, the largest source for agritourism destinations in Ontario. For the past 10 years, Steve is also the creative, advertising and marketing lead of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention looking after all communication messaging including the Show Guide magazine and the OFVC website.
Erich is the Business Finance Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. In this role, Erich provides information related to financial management, taxation, and business structures for farmers and agri-food processors. Prior to working with OMAFRA, Erich worked in a local accounting firm where he focused on farm accounting and taxation, and obtained his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. Erich attended the University of Guelph, where he studied Agricultural Business. He and his parents own a beef cow/calf, feeder and cash crop farm in Grey County.
Dr. Sean Westerveld
Sean has served as Ginseng and Herbs Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs since 2008. He received BSc (Agr.), MSc and PhD degrees in Horticulture from the University of Guelph. Prior to working with OMAFRA, Sean worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Muck Crops Research Station and as interim leader of the Vegetable and Non-traditional Crops Research Program at the Simcoe Research Station of the University of Guelph. His primary role in OMAFRA is to support the Ontario ginseng, lavender and herb industries through technology transfer and to provide input into provincial and federal policies that may affect the industry. Over the past few years he has been the lead on an initiative to find a solution to ginseng replant disease. Sean is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph.
Bernia is the owner and manager at Your Farm Market, Woodstock. When she had the opportunity to join the new ownership team in 2019, she didn’t hesitate. For 16 seasons, Your Farm Market has been sourcing farm fresh produce for Oxford County, improving access to the foods that are grown and produced within 100 km of the market. Bernia is an award-winning e-marketing specialist. Over the past 20 years, she has provided freelance consulting services to businesses, non-profits, and government throughout Ontario. Her expertise is in e-marketing strategy development and execution, rural development, and strategic planning.