Speaker Bios

OFVC 2022 Speakers

Speakers are listed alphabetically by last name. Please note all speakers are subject to change.

John Ardiel
John is a partner in Ardiel Cider House/Georgian Hills Vineyards and third generation apple grower. He has been producing apples in the Beaver Valley for 42 years since he succeeded his father in 1976. Along with his sons Greg and Liam, he operates approximately 300 acres of apples, pears & grapes. John is also a director of the Georgian Bay Peeler Group, responsible for marketing the members' peeler grade spy apples to large and small processors in Canada and the USA. For the last two years John has been a director on the quickly growing Ontario Craft Cider Association.

Amber Bailey

Amber has been involved with food safety in the horticultural industry for the last 22 years. She holds a BSc in Food Science and a MSc in Food Safety both from the University of Guelph. Amber has been with the CanadaGAP program for 17 years and is currently the Technical Manager. In this position her responsibilities include overseeing the food safety manuals, audit checklist, and any other relevant food safety documents as well as supporting certification bodies, auditors and program participants.

Chuck Baresich

Chuck is the General Manager of Haggerty Creek Ltd., a crop input and grain elevator located near Bothwell, Ontario. He is also the President of Haggerty AgRobotics Company, a new venture bringing autonomous robots to Ontario fields. Chuck farms with his wife Heather and their 2 children, and is a graduate of the University of Guelph.

Sebastian Belliard

Sebastian is a Soil Management Specialist for field crops with OMAFRA. Based in beautiful Eastern Ontario, Sebastian’s work centres on soil health assessments, soil structure, soil carbon, and cover crops, as well as maintaining Eastern Ontario’s edge on soil organic matter levels over the rest of the province. Before soil management he was worked for the Ontario Soil Survey after farming in Peterborough County.

Dr. Thomas Björkman

Thomas is a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, specializing in vegetable physiology. He has been investigating ways to optimize the value of cover crops in vegetable production systems in this region for over two decades. His research has developed ways to obtain excellent weed suppression and identified tillage as preventing improvements in soil health. He has been part of the Northeast Cover Crop Council team that recently released a new selection tool for this region.

Gerbe Botden

Gerbe is the orchard manager at their family farm, Blue Mountain Fruit Company, in Thornbury, Ontario. Their operation grows, stores, and packs apples from other growers as well as their own that are sold to retailers in Canada and the US. With a focus on continuous improvement, Gerbe is always looking for innovative ways to continuously grow high quality and high yielding crops.

Joan Brady

Joan is passionate about food and farming – whether preparing a community dinner for 200, growing delicious food and beautiful flowers for sale at the farmgate or farmers’ market, or helping others build their businesses and creating ways for businesses and their respective communities to work together. Her farming journey has made her realize the importance of policy and political work to developing a healthy and sustainable food system. Building on her broad range of agricultural and community experience, Joan started Sustainable Futures Farm & Food Consulting in 2014. She manages projects for various organizations and agencies and continues to work with other farmers and community members on hunger, poverty, sustainability, and resilience issues. She is a long-time member of the National Farmers Union and an advocate for farm families at local, national, and global levels.

Dr. Su-Ling Brooks

Dr. Brooks is a Professor in the Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science at Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS). She has a degree in Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering (Massey University, NZ) and PhD in Chemical Engineering (University of Cambridge, UK). Her research centers on food and bioprocessing and waste utilization for value-added products. She has been recognized by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and the Canadian Society of Biological Engineering (CSBE) for her significant research contributions in advanced manufacturing for food and bioprocess engineering with the CSBE John Clark Award in 2016.

Kelly Brown

Kelly is the Executive Vice President, People, Legal & Corporate Affairs for Arterra Wines Canada Inc. Arterra is the leading wine producer in Canada with 8 wineries and such iconic brands as Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs, Kim Crawford, and Robert Mondavi. Kelly is also the Chair of Wine Growers Canada. Prior to joining Arterra, Kelly was the Chief People, Legal & Corporate Affairs Officer for Molson Coors Canada. Kelly received her law degree from Dalhousie University and her BA (Hon) from McGill University. She was called to the bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada. In 2006, Lexpert named her one of Canada’s “Top 40 Lawyers under 40”.

Anita Buehner

Recently retired, Anita continues to enjoy growing lavender, although on a much smaller scale. A farm diversification plan, beginning in 2009, led to the establishment of 12,000 lavender plants and 10 acres of wine grapes on their former farm. With the goal of revitalizing their farm, Anita and her husband Steve began focusing on establishing an ecological agri-tourism destination – from field to final product. The journey of their new venture crossed many unforeseen paths.

Kevin Buis

Kevin was born and raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and grew up on the family farm which was started by his parents, Peter and Margaret in 1957. He received an engineering degree from the University of Guelph in 1986. After graduating from university, Kevin joined his brother Peter in carrying on the family business which now consists of 400 acres of 14 varieties of wine grapes. Kevin has been very involved in the agriculture industry, and has served on various committees and boards including the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association Advisory Committee and the Niagara Peninsula Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. Kevin is currently a member of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake Irrigation Committee.

Kathryn Carter

Kathryn is the Fruit Specialist (Tender fruit and Grape) for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). She has worked with OMAFRA for the past 20 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.

Deanna Chakarova

Deanna is born and raised in Niagara and passionate about the region and all 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 Port Colborne, 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.

Dr. Tejendra Chapagain

Dr. Chapagain is the Soil Fertility Specialist in Horticulture at OMAFRA. He deals with soil fertility related issues in horticultural crops including development of soil fertility and nutrition guidelines and reports, as well as soil fertility management practices in Ontario’s horticultural crops. He is also coordinating OMAFRA’s soil lab accreditation program. He received his MSc in Horticulture and PhD in Plant Science/Agronomy with a focus on intercrop experiments assessing the effect on land productivity, biological nitrogen fixation and cycling, carbon sequestration and water use efficiency of intercrop and monoculture plots. He subsequently worked as a post-doctoral research agronomist at the University of Alberta and most recently as a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph focusing on cover crops, complex cropping systems, precision agronomy and agroecology.

Ethan Churchill

Ethan is currently the Project Manager for CGCN-RCCV, responsible for carrying out the organization’s activities on behalf of the Board of Directors. He graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Sport Management in 2020. Prior to CGCN-RCCV, Ethan worked as a supervisor of a local winery’s retail store, which kick started an appreciation for the Canadian grape and wine industry.

Dr. John Cline

Dr. Cline is a professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph where he teaches undergraduate and graduate students and conducts research in tree fruit pomology. He also serves provides outreach in various capacities to the tree fruit industry. The primary objectives of Prof. Cline’s research 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, and studying horticultural technologies to reduce labour inputs in a movement toward greater orchard automation. Additionally, his research spans the investigation of plant bioregulators to regulate flowering, plant growth, improve fruit quality and reduce pre-harvest fruit drop. John holds a BSc in soil science (Univ. of Guelph), MSc in horticulture (Michigan State University), and a PhD in Horticulture (University of London, UK).

Lisa Cooper

Lisa was the driving force behind the start-up of the new Uxbridge Farmers’ Market in 2000. As a farmer herself, she knew the importance of having a farmers’ market in her local town. The market went through its ups and downs and growing pains. It had 3 homes in the first 14 years. Finally in 2017 they aligned with a local brewery, set up shop there, and never looked back. In 2019, they won Farmers’ Market of the Year. Lisa has been the market manager since its inception, and she along with the board have built a market that always has a waiting list to join.

Matthew Corrin

At 23 years old, Matthew set out to create a restaurant brand that would help people all over the world live healthier and longer lives with fast food that is convenient and affordable. Enter Freshii: a brand which is now growing at a faster pace than Subway, Starbucks and many brands they admire. Today, Freshii has over 350 locations in 18 countries around the world. Matthew credits the popularity of Freshii to its focus on the millennial generation. With over two-thirds of Freshii franchisees (and Matthew himself) falling within the millennial age range, the brand has an authentic appeal to this prized consumer market. In 2013, Matthew launched Fresh Startups, a technology accelerator to invest in young tech companies. In 2017, Matthew’s Freshii launched their $124 million IPO with ‘healthy returns for investors.’

Lisa Covens

With over 20 years of marketing research experience, Lisa started at Leger in 2003 and is a highly respected professional. 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 government, most of the top PR agencies in Canada, and communications practitioners at several corporations, food associations and pharmaceutical companies. She is well-versed in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. With nearly 300 studies completed each year, Lisa’s team regularly assesses advertisements, public opinion, attitudes, behaviour, and key satisfaction metrics across various industries. Lisa is an active member of the CPRS as a national board director and an Ace Awards judging co-chair.

Dr. Kerik Cox

Dr. Cox manages a program of tree fruit and berry research and extension at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, AgriTech. Principal research efforts include antimicrobial resistance (fungicides and antibiotics), and applied disease management with a focus on apple, stone fruit, strawberries. Extension efforts focus on pesticide education, disease forecasting, and applied disease management with emphasis on covered production in small fruit. Teaching efforts include undergraduate and graduate level Plant Pathology and IPM courses as well as leadership on student learning committees. Since the establishment of his program, Dr. Cox has been conducting antimicrobial resistance and invasive pathogen surveys in New York and the Northeastern United States.

Travis Cranmer

Travis is a Vegetable Crop Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. He works with growers, consultants, industry, and researchers to improve production and pest management strategies for Alliums, Brassicas and leafy greens. Travis received his BSc in Biology and MSc in Plant Production Systems with an emphasis on plant pathology from the University of Guelph.

Alan Cross

Alan is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger, and speaker. As well as hosting the long-running documentary The Ongoing History of New Music, Alan’s resume includes five books, a national music column for GlobalNews.ca, voicework for film, and television, plus creating content for various film and TV studios, record labels, artist management companies, streaming music services like Spotify and a travelling museum exhibit called The Science of Rock’n’Roll.

Marie Cundari

Marie is the Senior Director of New World and Ontario Wines at the LCBO. With over a decade of buying experience, Marie has worked with and has developed relationships with many Ontario wineries and local associations over the years. With a passion for local, Marie is always looking for new and innovative ways to promote and showcase the incredible selection of Ontario VQA wines at the LCBO. Marie holds an Honours Business Administration degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business as well as several professional Wines and Spirits certifications.

Dr. Surendra Dara

Dr. Dara has 25 years of experience in IPM and microbial control working on 17 species of invasive pests and diseases and several endemic species throughout his career. He also conducts research on biostimulants and biological soil amendments. He has authored/co-authored more than 400 scientific and extension articles, which include three co-edited books, four co-edited special issues of journals, 25 book chapters, and 50 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has a strong research and extension program that develops innovative solutions for sustainable crop production and protection, and reaches out to the agricultural community locally, regionally, and internationally. He has extensive international outreach experience training farmers in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Haiti, Kosovo, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe. He is currently holding offices at the Entomological Society of America and the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists. He also has editorial responsibilities for the Journal of Economic Entomology and the Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.

Renée Delaney

Renée Delaney was born and raised in Niagara. As a single mother facing poverty, she began to act proactively against her circumstances, first proving to herself - that true preventative health “care” begins with food. In 2014 she grew her first heirloom tomato. This, in combination with a move to the country, was inevitably what motivated her to start a non-profit within the food security realm. From this point on she began to believe anything was possible, and in so doing she has designed a local food system that can not only increase the availability of local food, but also the affordability. Now, 8 years later, she has left the non-profit sector and has instead turned her model into a for profit, social enterprise called Small Scale Farms. Her food hub, located centrally in the Niagara region feeds hundreds of people each week with a CSA style box program, that provides produce from multiple farmers and distributors across the region.

Phil Dick

Phil is a Business Resource Specialist in the Business Analysis and Resources Unit of the Business Development Branch at OMAFRA where he works with Agri-food stakeholders on technology commercialization and adoption, energy efficiency, water, logistics, organic waste, environment performance, circularity and climate adaptation. He is active across ministries on various files including stewardship, phosphorus recovery, green energy, energy efficiency, food waste and logistics. Prior to his 30 years with the ministry, Phil spent 12 years in progressive management positions in the agricultural supply sector and the food processing industry.

Mackenzie DiGasparro

As a Program Development Coordinator at the Invasive Species Centre, Mackenzie utilizes her background in ecology and forest pest management to lead programming related to invasive forest pests and pathogens that threaten the health and resiliency of Canadian forests. Mackenzie holds an Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology, with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution, and Behaviour from the University of Ottawa and is slated to complete her certificate in Environmental Management from Seneca College in 2021. Her passion for the environment and community health motivates her to share her knowledge of invasive species to help protect Canada’s lands and waters.

Tianna DuPont

Tianna is a Tree Fruit Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor for Washington State University. Her focus is on sustainable pest and disease management, soil and water management and providing opportunities for orchardists to learn and apply research-based information. DuPont has worked with soil health for 14 years including work with assessments, cover crops, conservation tillage, nematodes and building organic matter.

Dr. Edward Durner

Dr. Durner is an associate research Professor in the Plant Biology department at Rutgers University. His research involves alternative small fruit production studies with long-day strawberries and goldenberries (Physalis peruviana). As an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, he participated in an evaluation of the performance of thornless blackberries on a divided trellis which produced his first referred publication (co-author). His graduate research provided insight into strawberry flowering physiology. His masters work at Virginia Tech produced the first published evaluation of the day-neutral flowering characteristic in strawberry determining that 'day-neutrals' were not truly day neutral, but rather quantitative long-day plants at moderate temperatures (>22C and <30C). (Since his initial work, others have revealed that at least some of the newer day-neutral cultivars are qualitative long-day (>15 hrs) plants at high temperatures (>30C).) His doctoral research at NC State evaluated the most effective method for measuring stages of flowering in large numbers of strawberry plants.

James Dyck

James is the Engineering Specialist for Crop Systems and Environment with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), based in Vineland, Ontario. He was raised on a field crop and hog farm in the Niagara region, and completed his Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Waterloo. His work at OMAFRA focuses on best practices, innovations and environmental impacts of grain drying and storage, field equipment, precision agriculture, and greenhouse gas reduction. He has a particular interest in energy use and efficiency of farm production processes.

Dr. Daniel S. Egel

Dr. Egel conducts statewide vegetable disease research and extension programs at Purdue University. Current efforts include the management of Fusarium wilt of watermelon as well as the use of alternative and organically listed products for the management of bacterial spot of tomato. Extension publications include the disease portion of the annually updated Midwest Vegetable Production Guide. Dr. Egel also leads the National MELCAST program, a weather-based disease-forecasting program for cantaloupe and watermelon. Dr. Egel received his BS degree in Botany from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, his MS degree in Forestry from Purdue University and his PhD degree in plant pathology from the University of Florida.

Evan Elford

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 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.

Maggie Elliot

Maggie is the Director of Science and Communications for the Washington Hop Commission. In this role, she facilitates collaboration among growers, merchants, brewers, and researchers to empower producers with the scientific and regulatory tools to remain as world-leading stewards of their farms and communities. Maggie leads US hop industry initiatives to register, harmonize, and maintain plant protection measures, operates the HGA Best Practices committee to promote data-driven and ecologically sound management strategies to producers, and assists in the procurement and designation of research funding to support industry advancement. Maggie holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science, Communications, and Leadership from the University of Idaho as well as master’s degree in Agricultural Communications from Texas Tech University.

Hollis English

Hollis is the co-owner and creative director at Murphy’s Farm Market & Bakery, a longstanding family-owned-and-operated business in Alliston, ON. She oversees the retail store and customer experience while managing brand marketing, company culture, business development, and bakery production. Though she has a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Guelph, her adventures in baking and business are all self-taught and have resulted in more learning and growth than she ever thought possible. She believes kindness and empathy are superpowers and that building genuine connections with others is what life is all about. She is a mother to four children who keep her entertained and busy. She gravitates to anything polka dot or floral, can never find her phone or keys, and loves that her husband makes her laugh daily.

Mark Ferguson

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 tree nuts (eg. hazelnuts), hops, sweet potatoes, haskap, herbs 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.

Jason Fischbach

Jason is the Emerging Crops Outreach Specialist with UW-Madison Division of Extension and has co-led the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative since 2007. He also manages the UMHDI Hazelnut Processing Accelerator, a public/private partnership working to develop processing capacity and build markets in the Upper Midwest. Jason holds a BA from Carleton College and an MS from University of Minnesota. He and his wife also own and operate a vegetable and cut-flower farm near Ashland, WI.

Pam Fisher

Pam is a horticultural crop consultant with Fisher Berry Crop Consulting. She studied plant protection and entomology at the University of Guelph, and then worked for several decades as a crop specialist with OMAFRA. Currently, she provides berry growers with on-farm advice, scouting services, and technical information about pest management and berry crop production.

Ken Forth

Ken is the 5th generation farmer at Forthdale Farms Ltd. The farm is in its 6th generation of vegetable production, evolving from a multi-crop vegetable producer to 225 acre broccoli production, primarily for the Ontario market. The latest in technology and production methods are used to ensure the best quality and safest food. The farm employs 18 workers from the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Program (Jamaica), seasonal local workers and family members. Ken is also President of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.); chair of labour section for OFVGA, chair LICC & on the boards of CFA, and CAHRC; past president OFVGA; past president CHC. Ken has received an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Guelph, all for work on the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program.

Dr. David Gadoury

Dr. Gadoury is a plant pathologist at Cornell University’s experiment station in Geneva New York, where his program has focused on pathogen biology, pathogen ecology, and epidemiology of diseases of fruit and vegetable crops since 1985. He is a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), chairs the APS Foundation, and is host of the APS podcast Plantopia.

Heather Gale

Heather has worked with Canada's horticultural industry since 2000 and is the Executive Director of CanadaGAP, the food safety program for fresh fruit and vegetables. Her career with the horticulture sector began with the Canadian Horticultural Council, where she worked in communications, issues management and food safety. Heather serves on the Board of the Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition and the GFSI US-Canada Local Group. Her work history includes several years’ experience working on a fruit and vegetable farm.

Dr. Dragan Galic

Dr. Galic has been working with the Canadian Chestnut Council to breed blight tolerant American chestnut (Castanea dentata) for reforestation and commercial nut production in Ontario and Canada since 2001 and chestnut cropping systems since 2007. As a researcher in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph, he has also focused on development of new chestnut propagation technologies and chestnut blight management strategies. He had been associated with the development of the hazelnut industry in Ontario from 2007 to 2013. Dragan is a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Chestnut Council. He has a Master of Science from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada and PhD from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia.

Katie Goldenhar

Katie is a plant pathologist for horticulture crops at OMAFRA. She specializes in the detection, identification, and management of endemic and emerging plant diseases. She also verifies and validates new disease management techniques and technology for the Ontario horticulture industry. Prior to joining OMAFRA, Katie completed her master’s degree at Michigan State University, researching vegetable disease management with Dr. Mary Hausbeck.

Dr. Ian Goodwin

Dr. Goodwin is the Research Leader Crop Physiology in Agriculture Victoria based at the Tatura SmartFarm. Ian has more than 35 years’ experience in horticulture research and innovation with a focus on intensive production systems, crop water requirements and climate challenges. In recent years, Ian has established several dedicated research orchards for pears, stone fruit, apples and almonds to investigate the effects of tree density, training system, row orientation, rootstocks, cultivar, irrigation, netting and solar energy production on yield, fruit quality and labour efficiency. These experimental orchards have provided a resource to study sun damage thresholds, colour development, tree physiology (eg. photoinhibition, transpiration), crop regulation and water relations. In addition, the orchards are a powerful tool to communicate results and new technologies (eg. sensors and platforms, auto-irrigation, traceability) to the industry as well as students, government, service providers and scientific peers.

Teric Greenan

Teric grew up in Halifax and spent 1 1/2 years at StFX studying engineering before quitting and travelling across Canada. He started a small vegetable farm in Lunenburg County with a friend. They ran the farm together for 3 years and that experience gave him insight into how much time and resources are spent doing repetitive tasks on farms. He started Nexus Robotics in 2017 with two friends to utilize robotics to automate repetitive tasks in the field. Teric is in charge of operations for Nexus Robotics as the current COO.

Dr. Jonathan Griffiths

Jonathan is a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada studying the molecular biology of plant viruses. Viruses infecting Prunus spp. in the Niagara region is a major research priority. Research in the lab includes applying Next Generation Sequencing approaches towards plant virus identification. Two major projects include understanding the role of viruses in tree fruit decline, and surveying orchards for viruses through bee pollination activities. Research is carried out at the AAFC research station in Vineland. Jonathan holds a BSc (HONS). in Biology/Biotechnology from Carleton University, a MSc in Plant Science from Western Universityand a PhD from the Botany department at the University of British Columbia.

Ernie & Linda Grimo

Ernie’s nursery and nut farm operations grew slowly from 1973 to the present. He retired from teaching in 1994 and began to expand his nursery business. Linda moved back to Niagara in 1999 to work alongside Ernie and help build the business. On the 14-acre farm, ten acres are dedicated to experimental trial plantings of seedling and grafted nut trees brought to them from breeders or growers from the US and Canada. Ernie wants to find or develop the best nuts for the Canadian climate. His hazelnut breeding efforts led to numerous disease resistant trees that are now the foundation of colder climate hazel orchards. Linda is actively involved in breeding heartnuts to select the best cracking heart-shaped nut. 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.

Dr. Nichola Hall

Dr. Hall holds a BSc (HONS) in Microbial Biotechnology (1997) and a PhD in Yeast Physiology and Fermentation Science (2001) from the University of Abertay Dundee, United Kingdom. Dr. Hall has held various positions in the wine industry: Director of Microbiology at Bronco Wine Company, Ceres, CA (2002-2007), Technical Consultant at Vinquiry, Inc., Windsor, CA (2007-2009) and is currently at Scott Laboratories, Petaluma, CA employed as the Technical Director of the Fermentation and Enology Department (2009- Present). From 2009- Present, Dr. Hall is co-winemaker at Mathew Bruno Wines, and in 2019 began teaching the Quality Control and Analysis in Winemaking module as part of the UC Davis Winemaking Certificate Program. Dr. Hall is very involved in the American Society of Enology and Viticulture serving as president in 2016-2017. She is a past chair of the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium and a long-standing member of the AVF grant management Enology committee.

Dr. Alexis Hamilton

Alexis is a Postdoctoral Associate in Dr. Laura Strawn’s food safety and microbiology laboratory and Extension program at Virginia Tech. Currently, she is working collaboratively on projects evaluating the survival and transfer of foodborne pathogens on fresh produce and packing materials, describing food safety indicators in soil, and assessing food safety attitudes and management practices of growers, farmers, and other stakeholders to coordinate and optimize outreach materials.

Tom Heeman

Tom (part of the 3rd generation) is on the Heeman’s team full time! He has grown up in the business and been involved heavily in growing the strawberries. He works with Rudy (his father and the current Berry Boss) as his right hand in running the berry operation. When Tom’s not ‘outstanding in his field’ or aiding the greenhouse, he’s tending to his hives, as the driving force behind Heeman’s new varietal honey. Tom’s also been adding new produce like asparagus and garlic to the offerings at Heeman’s. Outside Heeman’s, Tom is a busy guy as current president of the North American Strawberry Growers Association, Berry Growers of Ontario, is a founding member of the Middlesex ALUS chapter, serves on the Middlesex-London Food Policy Council, and current Ward 1 Counsellor for the Municipality of Thames Centre.

Eduardo Huesca

Eduardo has 15 years of experience working with Ontario international/temporary foreign agricultural workers and their employers on occupational health and safety (OHS) issues. He has presented OHS educational workshops to over 1700 international agricultural workers across Ontario, in English and in Spanish. His work focuses on supporting the importance of effective health and safety communication, understanding, and participation in the context of language and culturally diverse workplaces.

Dr. Marney Isaac

Dr. Isaac is a Professor in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Global Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough, and the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto. Dr. Isaac holds the Canada Research Chair in Agroecosystems & Development. She serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Ecology and the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development. Dr. Isaac leads an interdisciplinary lab on sustainable agriculture and addresses fundamental questions on the role of biodiversity and nutrient cycles in agroecosystems. She is a specialist in the field of agroecology, with particular expertise in agroforestry systems. Her research provides insights into the plant-soil interactions that govern the structure and function of biologically complex agricultural landscapes. She also supervises an international research program investigating the role of agrarian information networks in the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.

Kelly Jackson

Kelly joined OMAFRA in 2016 and has had roles in the COVID-19 Agri-Food Secretariat and the Research and Innovation Branch. In those roles she has implemented the Registry of Employers of International Agri-Food Workers and the Research Management System. Prior to OMAFRA, she worked for the Ontario Centres of Excellence, St. Michael’s Hospital, University Health Network and London Health Sciences. She has degrees in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.

Pat Johnson

Janice Janiec

Janice joined OFA’s Farm Policy Research Group in May 2021 to cover the Agriculture Economic Development portfolio during Danielle Collins’ leave of absence. The Agriculture Economic Development portfolio encompasses local food, municipal engagement, agricultural research and farm innovation, rural economic development and initiatives to grow the agriculture and food sector.

Pat Johnson

Pat is an organic mixed famer since 1978 with a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Guelph. Currently, Pat is the Plant Nutrition & Biological Product Specialist with NM Bartlett Inc.

Dr. Anthony Keinath

Anthony (Tony) is a Professor of Plant Pathology at Clemson University and the research and Extension vegetable pathologist for South Carolina. His PhD in Plant Pathology was awarded by Cornell University in 1988. Since 1991, he has worked at the Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston, SC. His area of expertise is management of cucurbit diseases and he was the lead editor on the second edition of the APS Compendium of Cucurbit Diseases and Pests. In 2018, he received the Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research from Clemson University.

Candy Keith

Candy is the lead at the SPUD Unit established in 1983 as part of the Ontario Crops Research Center New Liskeard, established 1922. This virus indexing, clean plant propagation program, has been administered by the University of Guelph since 1997. It handles research and a production needs for any crop that uses vegetative propagation. The enthusiastic team has adopted constant innovation to enhance client service, review yield performance, improve levels of productivity and evaluate the traceable systems of gene banks. Their expertise spans multiple crop management projects for extending the growing season, employing the laboratory, screenhouse, greenhouse, high tunnel and field facilities. Candy earned her BSc and MSc. at University of Guelph. She is passionate about embracing opportunities to further develop horticulture with international partners and food sustainability in rural “northern” Canadian communities.

James Kingsbury

James KingsburyJames is currently serving as Infrastructure Manager at Sandy Shore Farms Ltd., and Shorequip Ltd. His past role included Farm Manager of Sandy Shore Farms Ltd. large Asparagus, Bell Pepper and Forage crop operations covering 1600 acres along Lake Erie between Port Burwell and Long Point. Farming in this environmentally sensitive area along with its inherent soil challenges has propelled Sandy Shore Farms to be consistently green throughout the year. From cover crops, nurse crops, to adding forage crops into our rotation, we have stubbed our toes along the road of failures to what we feel is a regenerative, carbon sequestering, profit making solution that works hand in hand with the 4R’s philosophy. Our goals have always been to reduce our inputs, increase our organic matter and reduce our erosion while maintaining a healthy bottom line.

Dave Kranenburg

Dave is one half of Kendal Hills Farm, a mushroom, poultry and pork farm set in the forest outside of Orono, Ontario.  It's the land where his better half grew up and they are entering their 6th season of farming.  At the start of the pandemic, Dave started the Virtual Farmers Market (now called Graze & Gather); and has grown it into a new sales and distribution channel for small farms. Prior to his life as a farmer, Dave was immersed in the worlds of social innovation, systems change and food security in his roles as Director of Programming for the Centre for Social Innovation and as Executive Director for Meal Exchange.

Dr. Thomas Kuhar

Dr. Kuhar is a Professor in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech, where his research and Extension efforts focus on the biology of agricultural pests and developing and evaluating sound integrated pest management solutions on vegetable crops. He has published over 130 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, 7 book chapters and over 200 non-peer reviewed trade journal and Extension publications geared around insect pest management. Several of these publications have focused on sweet corn pest management and/or corn earworm pest management. He routinely presents pest management talks at 25 to 30 Extension/grower meetings throughout the eastern U.S. each year and contributes to updating the insect control sections in two regional commercial vegetable recommendations guides. He has advised over 25 graduate students during his 20-year tenure as a faculty member and currently has eight graduate students, a postdoc, and two technicians. Dr. Kuhar has also served as President of the Eastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America and has been an associate editor for three entomology journals Journal of Integrated Pest Management, Plant Health Progress, and Arthropod Management Tests.

Ken Laing

Ken graduated from the University of Guelph with a BSc in horticulture in 1979. He is farming at Orchard Hill Farm near St. Thomas, Ontario with his wife Martha and daughter Ellen. He has experience growing a wide variety of horticultural and field crops organically for 3 decades. Orchard Hill Farm is now the horticultural site for Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada’s/EFAO’s “Living Labs” project in Ontario which is looking to develop no-till strategies for organic vegetables for mid-scale market gardeners. His experience with a wide variety of cover crops and years of building and modifying machinery are proving very useful.

Dr. Tom Lowery

Graduate of the University of Guelph (BSc, MSc) and UBC-Vancouver (PhD), Dr. Lowery has nearly 25 years of research experience at the Summerland Research and Development Centre, AAFC, on sustainable grape pest management, including chemical and biological controls, leafhopper antifeedants, and the use of beneficial vineyard groundcover vegetation. He has also conducted research on the epidemiology and management of insect-borne plant diseases, including work with grapevine viruses and their vectors since 2011. He was an Affiliate with the CCOVI, Brock University, and an Associate Professor with UBC-Okanagan, Kelowna. Tom has served on a number of BC Wine Grape Council Research and Development committees for many years and produced the insect and mite chapter of the BC Production Guide for Grapes and accompanying photo guides for grapevine pests and for beneficial insects.

Dr. Genevieve Marchand

Dr. Marchand has a PhD in Plant biology from Université Laval, and did her thesis work on the genetic control of the mode of action of fungal biocontrol agent against powdery mildew. During a post-doctoral fellowship at Health Canada, she contributed to the development of a microfluidic detection system for food-borne pathogens. She has worked at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for over 10 years, previously at the Pest Management Centre and the Ottawa Research and Development Centre. For the last five years, she has been leading a research program on pathology of greenhouse vegetables and other horticultural crops at the Harrow Research and Development Centre in Southwestern Ontario. Her research program focuses on methods for detection and control of plant pathogens, with a focus on integrated pest management.

Sarah Marshall

As Manager of the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers and Fresh Grape Growers, Sarah represents over 200 growers of tender fruit and table grapes across On􀀷ario. She reports to a board of directors for each organization and manages initiatives on research, marketing and promotion based on direction from the board.

Margaret May

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.

Dr. Margaret McGrath

Margaret (Meg) is an Associate Professor in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section at Cornell University. She is stationed at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center where she conducts applied research and extension activities on optimizing management of diseases affecting vegetable crops and herbs produced conventionally and organically. Her research has included evaluating biopesticides for powdery mildew and downy mildew in cucurbits, Phytophthora blight in cucurbits and pepper, foliar diseases in tomato, and downy mildew in basil.

Dr. Thomas Merritt

Thomas is the chair of the board for the Greater Sudbury Market Association, the independent not-for-profit that runs The Sudbury Market. A transplanted American, Merritt has been going to The Market longer than he’s lived in Canada. In fact, The Market community was one of the things that drew him to Sudbury. A professor at Laurentian University, another central part of the Sudbury, Merritt sees The Market as a core part of a healthy local community and a strong local food network. The Market has recently transitioned from a city organization to an independent not-for-profit allowing it greater flexibility and responsiveness while maintaining close ties to the city and shared objectives.

Dr. Ioanis Minas

Dr. Minas received his PhD 2014 in Pomology and Postharvest Physiology from the School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece. He is an Assistant Professor of Pomology, in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture located at Western Colorado Research Center – Orchard Mesa Agricultural Experiment Station, Colorado State University. His research interests include: production and management efficiency in orchard systems; orchard and environmental factors affecting harvest quality and post-harvest physiology with emphasis in peaches, sweet cherries, and apples; rootstocks and cultivars; and novel technologies to improve general orchard performance and tree fruit harvest and post-harvest quality.

Mario Miranda Sazo

Mario is a Fruit Extension Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Lake Ontario Fruit Program. He manages several projects aimed at solving practical fruit production problems that will increase the profitability of the NY fruit industry. His program is largely field oriented with significant Extension outreach. He works in nine areas: (1) orchard systems, (2) rootstocks, (3) tree nursery production, (4) tree training/pruning/PGR use, (5) crop load and canopy management, (6) irrigation/foliar/soil nutrient management, (7) orchard mechanization for higher labor efficiency, (8) Spanish-speaking training, and (9) strategic thinking and innovation for adoption of digital agriculture technologies. Before Mario joined Cornell, he worked as a product development manager for BASF in Latin America, Harris Moran Seed Company in California, and managed the IR-4 field residue program at the Department of Horticulture, Cornell University. His academic training is in agronomy (BS) and in horticulture and agronomy (MS), UC Davis. He is currently pursuing a PhD on nutrition physiology and management at Cornell.

John Molenhuis

John has been with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as the Business Analysis and Cost of Production Specialist for the past 21 years. He is the lead for financial benchmarking and cost of production. John has a degree in Agricultural Business from the University of Guelph.

Paul Moran

Paul is a Financial Advisor/owner of Paul Moran Insurance Group Inc., representing Co-operators, with over 35 years in the insurance industry.

Ingrid Muschta

Ingrid is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario with 20+ years of combined working experience in corporate, entrepreneurial, and not-for-profit settings. She joined the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) in 2017 as a Diversity & Inclusion Specialist. In this role, she was instrumental in moving 250 people who have a disability into employment and delivered the ODEN Disability Awareness and Confidence Training to over 500 business members. In 2021, Ingrid took on the role of Director of Special Projects & Innovation. Ingrid’s vision for her son who has Down syndrome is in-line with that of all parents: that her son will grow up in a society where people with disabilities will participate in formal higher education; that as citizens, they will be engaged in equal and meaningful employment; that they will access and contribute to decision-making processes, which directly impacts their lives, and they will be recognized as vibrant contributors to their communities.

Kristen Obeid

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, recipient of the Excellence in Weed Science Extension Award from the Canadian Weed Science Society (CWSS) in 2018 and recently received the Gold Harvest Award from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) as part of the project team that has developed numerous rapid genetic tests for herbicide resistant weed detection. 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.

Aaron Oppenlaender

Aaron was born and raised on Huebel Grapes Estates farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He has always had a love for farming especially in vineyards. As he watched my dad’s love for it, his love grew and today, he runs the farm alongside his father and brothers.

Sougata Pahari

Sougata is the founder and CEO of Korechi Innovations Inc., an Ontario-based agriculture robotics company which was established in 2016. Sougata has obtained a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from India, followed by a Master's degree in Materials engineering in Italy followed by several years of work experience in the electronics sector in Italy and USA. As a child, Sougata grew up on small farms in India and Nigeria and began studying the machinery being used at the vineyards and orchards in Verona, Italy. In 2016, Sougata migrated to Canada and founded Korechi at the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton, before moving to Oshawa in 2018. Korechi designs robots to automate simple and repetitive tasks in the horticulture and golf industries. Korechi’s RoamIO line of tracked and wheeled robots are being used in farms to automate datalogging, seeding, weeding and vegetation management.

Jeff Pedlow

Jeff is currently a consultant with the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services since 1998. He has over 25 years of health and safety experience in both management and consulting. At WSPS, Jeff is a lead auditor and the Health and Safety Excellence program consultant. He continues to work with businesses across Canada in the service, manufacturing, education, transportation, municipal, agriculture, and federal sectors. Prior to joining WSPS, Jeff worked for the City of London for 12 years, later transferring to the private sector for the world’s largest waste management company where he held a dual role of Manager of Health and Safety, South Western Ontario and Manager of Recycling Operations for the City of London. Jeff continuously draws on his additional hands on and in-depth experiences such as being a professor at Fanshawe College for over 22 years and working with additional business sectors such the environment (started two environmental businesses).

Dr. Natalia Peres

Dr. Peres is a Professor at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC). She has an active applied research and extension program focused primarily on the management of fungal diseases of strawberry. She is also responsible for the Diagnostic Clinic at GCREC serving the strawberry, ornamental, and vegetable industries in the area. Her research and extension programs focus on the development of integrated management approaches to reduce losses to growers in Florida, but recommendations extend across regions affecting many growers, including strawberry nurseries. She has developed the widely adopted web-based Strawberry Advisory System, which provides recommendations for strawberry growers on the need for fungicide applications based on the weather conditions. She has authored or co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals as well as technical extension bulletins and published multiple book chapters.

Madé Quay

Madé has been working for OMAFRA for 6 years as a Technology Transfer Specialist. She works directly with OMAFRA’s crops specialists to design and deliver resources to the sector. Part of Madé’s role also includes exploring how information can be shared more effectively using new approaches, tools and technologies.

Dr. Justin Renkema

Dr. Renkema is a Research Scientist in Entomology with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Vineland, Ontario. His research program focuses on developing integrated pest management strategies in vineyard, tree fruit and berry crops. He is currently working on spotted wing drosophila in berries, cyclamen mite and weevils in strawberry, leafhoppers and vectors of grapevine red blotch virus in vineyards, and oriental fruit moth, other leafroller moths and ambrosia beetles in tree fruit. Justin has a PhD from Dalhousie University (2007-2011), studying blueberry maggot, worked on spotted wing drosophila sampling and control in berry crops as a post-doctoral researcher at University of Guelph (2012-2015), and was an Assistant Professor of Entomology at University of Florida (2015-2018), with a research and extension program focused on pest management in strawberries and blueberries.

Pamela Resvick

Pamela has over 16 years of experience as an occupational health and safety professional working in various environments. She specializes in agriculture, occupational hygiene, as well as the warehouse and distribution sector, providing guidance on health and safety requirements to meet compliance with regulatory and organizational needs. She has particularly enjoyed assisting clients to benefit from WSPS’s agriculture solutions, OMAFRA’s Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program and to navigate the WSIB Health and Safety Excellence program. Pamela is a Certified Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) and a certified JHSC Representative. In addition to her Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Sociology from the University of Western Ontario, she holds a Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety, and Human Resource Management from Fanshawe College.

Brian Rideout

Brian and his wife operate Manitree Fruit Farms along with family Rusty and Jean Smith. They have approximately 250 acres of fruit trees the majority of which is apples and peaches. They also grow nectarines, pears, strawberries, tomatoes, squash and cantaloupe. The farm has a controlled storage facility for apples and squash as well.

Dr. Darren Robinson

Darren is a Professor and Weed Management Specialist at the Ridgetown Campus, University of Guelph. He has a BSc Biology for the University of Winnipeg, a MSc Plant Pathology from the University of Manitoba and a PhD Weed Crop Competition from the University of Guelph. Darren’s research interests are weed management in vegetable crops, the influence of cultural practices and soil fertility on crop-weed competition, and the effect of herbicide residues on production of vegetable crops. The management of weeds in vegetable crops has been a significant component of this research program, and currently is focused on the development of integrated weed management strategies.

Elaine Roddy

Elaine has a BSc (Agr) from the University of Guelph with Natural Resources Management (Crop Science Specialization). She is involved in field research trials and extension for vegetable production and pest management for cucurbits, legume vegetables, sweet corn and asparagus.

Amy Rodenburg

Amy is the Research and Management Assistant at the Fenwick Berry Farm, in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula. The farm is working towards production systems which will provide consistent raspberry and strawberry fruit to Ontario markets with extended shelf life and minimizing food waste. Amy works alongside a great team to offer fruit and fruit plants to surrounding growers.

Ben Rosser

Ben works as Corn Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Ben received a BSc and MSc in agronomy from the University of Guelph. Prior to becoming corn specialist, Ben worked as a research technician for previous OMAFRA corn specialist Greg Stewart. Ben enjoys working on applied research projects with Ontario corn growers, and works out of the Crop Science Building, University of Guelph.

Dr. Sarah Rotz

Sarah is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (FEUC) at York University. Her research is collaborative and interdisciplinary and is grounded in environmental justice, with a focus on land and food systems. Much of her research aims to situate political economic processes – such as agri-food industrialization, financialization, and policy – within a lens of settler colonial patriarchy and racial capitalism. Her work has focused on topics ranging from the political economy and ecology of farmland tenure to critical perspectives of big data in agriculture. A lot of her research specifically examines public and private institutions, including government ministries, research institutes, funding agencies, and industry sectors.

Daniel Saurette

Daniel is a Land Resource Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, located 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 ratings. This includes more recently projects to collect baseline information on soil health in Ontario’s diverse agricultural systems and collect soil samples for specialised soil health analyses to develop an understanding of the health of our soil resource.

Dr. Praveen Saxena

Dr. Saxena is a Professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, and has over 30 years of experience in plant biotechnology focusing on the application of in vitro technologies for conservation of endangered plant species as well as for the production of value-added plants for horticultural industries in Canada. Dr Saxena’s lab at the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation (GRIPP) has developed innovative integrated plant production technologies for commercial propagation and plantation of a range of economically important crops including tree fruits, nuts, berries, ornamentals, and medicinal plants.

Albrecht Seeger

Albrecht was born to a grape growing and farming family in South-Western Germany, and grew up on a mixed crop and livestock farm. After finishing his viticulture and agricultural education, Albrecht worked alongside his parents, until the family sought greater opportunities and immigrated to Canada in 1978, and harvested their first grape crop in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1979 (part of this crop was the famous 9549 – deChaunac!). Alongside his wife Anja and daughters Freya and Pia, the vineyard has grown from a single 65-acre plot, to nearly 200 acres of premium vinifera.

Sunni Shannon

Sunni is Duuo Insurance’s Partnerships Manager. Licensed across Canada and a Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional (FCIP®), Sunni has over 14 years experience in the insurance industry. In 2019, Sunni took on a new opportunity at Duuo, an insurance distributor under the Co-operators group of companies. Today, Sunni works closely with Duuo partners to create innovative, on-demand insurance solutions that meet the unique needs of their clients.

Ann Slater

Ann is the chair of the St. Marys Farmers' Market and a member of the board of Farmers' Markets Ontario. She has been operating a small market garden just outside of St. Marys for almost 40 years and has been a vendor at the St. Marys Farmers' Market since it opened in 1992.

Brittany Stager

Brittany is a Partner and the Chief Content Officer at REES + STAGER, an integrated omnichannel agency that delivers exceptional strategy, creative, and content. Brittany and the team at R+S use close listening skills to generate real brand insight and, with obsessive attention to detail, act as valiant defenders of your forward-facing brand in every execution. Brittany has unique and extensive experience working directly with foodservice directors and chefs, national and local retailers, registered dietitians, influencers, and event organizers. She knows what is important to each industry, and how to get them excited about menuing, shelving, or showcasing food products.

Jessica Stevens

Jessica is the Executive Director of Hop Growers of America, and in this role ensures compliance and operational efficiency for all programs of the organization. With extensive experience in contract management as well as an impeccable record overseeing millions of dollars in funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Education, and United States Department of Agriculture, Jessica provides strategical and fiscal management for the US hop industry’s international marketing efforts, pesticide harmonization initiatives, and agronomic research projects. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration with a specialty in Accounting from Washington State University.

Dan Stouck

Dan planted his first vinifera vines on 2001 following his graduation from the first winery program at Niagara College. He has been assisting in making wines for 20 years and just completed his 21st harvest at Malivoire wine company where he has been managing vineyards for 20 years growing 10 different varieties.

Dr. Laura Strawn

Dr. Strawn is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist of Produce Safety in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech. Her research program focuses on the microbial safety of fresh fruits and vegetables; specifically, the ecology, evolution, and transmission of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in the produce field to fork continuum. Additionally, Dr. Strawn works directly with produce stakeholders on current produce safety issues, as well as teaches Environmental monitoring program and packinghouse best practice courses throughout the state of Virginia. She is a lead instructor for both the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule associated FDA-recognized curriculums created by the Produce Safety Alliance and Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance. Recently, in 2021, Dr. Strawn received the Larry Beuchat Young Researcher Award given to a scientist who shows great promise in the field of food microbiology and safety.

David Strickland

David is a PhD candidate in the tree fruit research program of Dr. Kerik Cox at Cornell AgriTech. His primary research investigates applied sustainable chemical management programs for apple powdery mildew, as well as assessments of fungicide resistance for the causal pathogen Podosphaera leucotricha. He also conducts work on the fruit finish disorder apple scarf and fungicide efficacy trials for control of post-harvest fruit rots.

Dr. 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. Jay is also 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.

Dr. Clarence Swanton

Dr. Swanton obtained his BSc in Botany from the University of Toronto, his MSc in Agrometerology from the University of Guelph, and a PhD in Plant Ecology from the University of Western Ontario. During the years between earning his MSc and his PhD, he was employed as a field agronomist with the Campbell Soup Company of Canada and later as a weed biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. In 1985 he joined the University of Guelph as a faculty member in the Department of Crop Science. In 1996 he was promoted to full professor. From 1998 to 2004, Clarence served as the first Chair of the Department of Plant Agriculture which included the Departments of Crop Science, Horticulture and the Horticulture Research Institute of Ontario. From 2007 to 2008 he served as President of the Canadian Weed Science Society. He has won numerous awards for his research including the Outstanding Canadian in the area of Crop Protection from Bayer CropScience for exceptional contributions to science and innovation. His research is focussed on weed ecology and the development of integrated weed management systems for field and horticultural crops.

Dr. Hannah Tait Neufeld

Hannah is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health Sciences at University of Waterloo and holds a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Health, Wellness and Food Environments. Her research focus for the past 20 years has been on incorporating community-based research methodologies to continually engage and support Indigenous project partners, community members, and trainees to investigate food as a medium to bridge environments and share land-based knowledge.

Dr. Fumiomi Takeda

Dr. Takeda just retired as a Research Horticulturist from USDA-ARS in Kearneysville, WV where he conducted physiological and production research on blackberry trellis and plant architecture, machine harvesting of blueberry, and non-chemical control of strawberry diseases and pests using ultraviolet light. He is credited with authoring 104 peer-reviewed journal articles and 3 US patents.

Dr. Cheryl Trueman

Dr. Trueman is an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus. Her research interests focus on integrated management of insect and disease pests of vegetable crops in Ontario. She is interested in applied research for adoption by growers to improve pest management, reduce yield and quality losses, and delay the development of pesticide resistance. Cheryl earned a BSc (Agriculture), MSc (Horticulture), and PhD (Environmental Biology) from the University of Guelph. In addition to research and graduate student advising, Cheryl teaches courses in vegetable production and pest management in agriculture and horticulture diploma programs at Ridgetown.

Sandra Ulewicz

Sandra studied nutrition in university and went on to pursue a career in marketing and communications and is now the Communications Coordinator at The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, she is passionate about local food and healthy eating.

Dr. Kevin Usher

Dr. Usher is a phytochemist working on wine grape chemistry with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Summerland Research and Development Centre in British Columbia. His research focus is on vineyard management practices and site conditions and how they affect flavor, mouthfeel and aroma in grapes and wine. Dr. Usher has investigated the effects of canopy management, nitrogen application rates and timing, irrigation regimes, terrior and virus infection on the development of aromas and flavours in grapes and wine. Other research includes wine micro-oxygenation with the use of tannin and oak products to advance aging and reduce herbaceous flavour and he has evaluated the sensory impact of leaf petioles in wine. Currently Dr. Usher is investigating leaf removal practices and their impact on fruit development and wine quality.

Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel

As a Professor and Chair, Horticulture Section School of Integrative Plant Science, Justine is actively involved in both research and teaching. Her research focuses on digital viticulture, optimizing flavors and aromas in wine grapes, and improving both the environmental and economic sustainability of wine grape production systems in cool climates. She also teaches several undergraduate courses in Viticulture.

Dennis Van Dyk

Dennis Van Dyk is a Vegetable Crop Specialist with OMAFRA. His portfolio covers potatoes and root vegetables including carrots, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, radish and horseradish. He has a MSc in Plant Agriculture from the University of Guelph focused on nematode management in carrots.

Dr. Laura Van Eerd

Laura grew up on a farm. She always wondered why each year there were always rocks to pick up. That work and hoeing beans didn’t deter her from going to the University of Guelph. In fact, she never left; she’s a Professor of Sustainable Soil Management at Ridgetown Campus. The goal of her internationally-recognized research program is to advance understanding of biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen and carbon in various agroecosystems. Seriously though, Laura enjoys researching ways farmers can build soil health while maintaining crop yields and minimizing nitrogen inputs. She’s been told that “she has excellent practical knowledge of environmental and agronomic issues facing farmers”. In 2020, she was recognized as an Influential Woman of Canadian Agriculture, and in 2021, Laura was named Soil Champion by OSCIA.

Heather VanVolkenburg

Heather is a research manager and contributor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Brock University. She has spent the past ten years working at different capacities within the Vasseur Research Lab on various agroecological and ecological related projects both local and global in scope. Heather earned her MSc under the co-supervision of Dr. Vasseur and Dr. Guinel, producing a thesis that focused on the impacts of cover cropping and agromineral applications in vineyards. Her current work focuses on cover crops as mitigation tools for climate change, the influence of pandemics on food security in West Africa. She was recently recruited by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a contributor for a project focusing on global ecology and pandemics.

Aaron Varadi

Aaron joined High Mowing Organic Seeds in the summer of 2020 as Commercial Grower Sales Representative, where he works with commercial vegetable growers across Canada to get them the seeds and knowledge they need to thrive. Prior to joining High Mowing, Aaron spent the previous decade managing organic farms in western Washington state, where he grew diversified vegetables for fresh market sales, and seed crops on contract for High Mowing and many other seed companies. He has participated in variety trials on a regional and national level and has developed his own breeding projects in addition to collaborating on breeding projects with industry and research partners.

Dr. Liette Vasseur

Dr. Vasseur is a full professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Brock University and a member of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. Since 2014, she holds the UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global at Brock. Her research program is interdisciplinary and links issues such as sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation and resilience, community-based ecosystem management, and ecosystem governance. Her research is in Canada, China, Ecuador, Burkina Faso and Senegal. In Canada, three major projects focus on organic and sustainable vineyards in the Niagara region where she studies responses of the ecosystem to alternative techniques and climate change adaptation in rural and coastal communities. She is President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the deputy chair of the Commission for Ecosystem Management at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Botany at the Canadian Science Publishing.

Julien Venne

Julien is a Horticulture Advisor with the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) in Gatineau, Québec. His passion for lupulin has led him to contribute to Canada’s hop industry for the past twelve years. In addition to the agronomical support he has offered to hop growers in eastern Canada, he is known for his involvement in various research projects. Amongst other activities, Julien has managed cultivar trials, he has researched optimization of hop processing and he coordinated market studies in both Québec and the Maritimes. His background allows him to have a broad understanding of the challenges and opportunities surrounding our national hop industry. Julien completed a BSc and MSc at McGill University before working as a researcher with a local NGO. He later served has a self-employed consultant before joining the MAPAQ in 2017.

Dr. Lisa Wasko-DeVetter

Lisa is an Associate Professor of Horticulture at the Washington State University Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center. She leads the state-wide small fruit horticulture research program with a focus on maximizing productivity, fruit quality, and on-farm efficiencies, while ensuring the health of adjacent natural resources critical for small fruit crop production in the Pacific Northwest. Primary research areas include optimizing pollination services in small fruit crops, improved end-of-life management of agricultural plastics used in small fruit crop production, machine harvesting technologies, and nutrient management.

Chris Watkins

Chris carries out a research and extension program on storage and ripening of fruits and vegetables from both applied and fundamental aspects with Cornell University. His primary interests are in understanding the underlying mechanisms in fruit responses to storage conditions and their effects on quality and product. He has published over 175 peer reviewed papers, 20 book chapters, 44 conference proceedings, and 126 trade, newsletter and technical articles. He was elected Fellow of the American Society for Horticulture Science in 2015, and CALS Outstanding Faculty award in 2018. He is the Chair of the International Society for Horticultural Science Division for Postharvest Physiology and Quality Assurance (2014-2018, 2018-2022). Chris is also Associate Editor for the highly ranked journal, Postharvest Biology and Technology, since 2016, having previously served as Editorial Board member from 1993 to 2011. He was elected Fellow of the International Society for Horticulture Science in 2021.

Erich Weber

Erich is the Business Finance Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. In this role, he 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 eight 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.

Dr. Jim Willwerth

Dr. Willwerth is an Assistant Professor in grapevine physiology in the Department of Biological Sciences and a Researcher at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University. His research program is largely focused on grapevine cold hardiness and evaluation of grapevine clones and rootstocks to support the Canadian Grape and Wine Industry. He is interested in understanding how different Vitis genotypes and their interactions with environment influence cold hardiness responses and how plant growth regulators such as Abscisic acid analogs can be used to promote/maintain dormancy and hardiness. Jim works closely with the Canadian grape and wine industry serving on various technical committees and providing outreach services through CCOVI programs. He is the current Chair of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Eastern Section.

Dr. Victoria Wojcik

Vicki has been working to protect and promote pollinators for over a decade. She is the Director at Pollinator Partnership Canada, an ENGO focused on maintaining resilience in our natural and managed ecosystems. Vicki’s research and outreach programs include understanding pollination services and risk management in farm systems, habitat conservation, community conservation, garden ecosystems, and policy. Vicki has a BSc in Biology from the University of Guelph, and a PhD in Environmental Science and Policy from UC Berkeley.

Carolyn Wong

Carolyn became the manager and co-founder of the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market (Toronto) by way of the Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park, a volunteer community group, 14 years ago. She credits her survival to her film industry experience, having a patient husband, and all the volunteers and vendors who are truly gifts that keep on giving.

Jennifer Wright

Jennifer grew up working in her family’s farm equipment dealership and helping on the farm in southwestern Ontario. She has worked in the field of human resource research and development for more than twenty years. Jennifer has worked with several industries, including agriculture, leading initiatives related to inclusion and diversity, attraction and retention, work integrated learning, labour market research, skills development, training and education. She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Royal Roads University.

Janet Zylstra

Janet has been the City of Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market Coordinator for the past four years. She has been a regular customer of the Farmers’ Market for years, visiting her neighborhood market with her family of six. When an opportunity presented itself, Janet jumped at the chance to re-enter the work force and utilize her retail management experience to rejuvenate this community tradition. Highlighting farmers, recruiting vendors, growing social media presence, and building community through events and outreach have been building blocks to revive the Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market. The support provided by FMO has been instrumental in her professional growth. Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market will soon have a new space with the completion of the Niagara Falls Exchange in 2022. Janet also serves as a Community Development Worker for Niagara Nutrition Partners, providing healthy meals to students in the Niagara Region.