Organic Food

COABC Conference & AGM 2008
February 29 - March 2, 2008

Link to Fresh Voices Contest

Join us for the 2008 COABC
Mary Winspear Centre at Sanscha,
2243 Beacon Ave., Sidney, B.C.

Conference/AGM Home Page

Speaker and Facilitator Bios

Aaron Burt
(Speaker): Farm Energy Saturday 10:30 - 12:00 - event
Aaron Burt is a Computer Systems Engineer with a long-time interest in renewable energy engineering and sustainable agriculture.

Anne Macey
(Speaker) National Standards Update: Saturday 5:00 - 6:30 - event
Anne Macey an advocate for organic agriculture at local, provincial, national and international levels and currently chairs the Livestock Working Group of the CGSB technical committee on organic agriculture, is a member of the ECOA Animal Welfare Task Force, the Director of COABC’s Accreditation Board and on the Accreditation Committee for the International Organic Accreditation Service, as well as on the executive of her local COG chapter and chair of the Salt Spring Island Area Farm Plan Steering committee. She is recognized as a writer/editor of COG’s Organic Livestock Handbook, a retired sheep farmer, a past president of COG and in her spare time works as an organic verification officer.

Anne Malleau
(Speaker): Farm Animal Welfare Strategies Saturday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
Anne Malleau is the Director of Research and Education for the Animal Compassion Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit producer research and education organization created by Whole Foods Market, inc. A graduate of The University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Anne earned both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Agriculture and an MBA in Agribusiness, providing her with comprehensive training in animal production as well as all aspects of animal welfare and on-farm food safety programs. Prior to her employment with the Animal Compassion Foundation, Anne served as the Communications Coordinator for the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare in Guelph, Ontario.

In her current role as Director of Research and Education for the Animal Compassion Foundation, Anne travels extensively throughout the world visiting and working with farms to learn and share information and ideas on animal husbandry. Her role also includes developing and funding collaborative on-farm research projects.

Art Bomke
(Speaker): Recent Research Saturday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
I was raised on a small farm in Illinois, did my university education in that state and immigrated (now 34 years ago) to British Columbia. My educational background is in Agronomy, specifically soil and crop management; however, I have also had opportunities to explore social dimensions of agricultural systems. Since coming to UBC, I have conducted research on both inorganic and organic fertilization, nitrogen cycling, and cropping systems. Currently, our group is studying on-farm composting, symbiotic nitrogen fixation (Yukon) soil health indicators for community gardens and the City of Vancouver's foodshed. Most of our work is done in partnership with farmers and other participants in food systems.

Brent Warner
Putting Healthy BC Food Back into Our Schools Saturday 3:30 - 5:00 - event
Brent Warner is the Industry Agritourism Specialist with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and the past secretary of the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association. (NAFDMA), in Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Guelph, (Bsc. Agr.), as an environmental biologist in 1977. Prior to beginning a career with Agriculture Canada, he was the assistant production manager of one of the largest ornamental nurseries in Ontario. His career spans over 30 years of working with farm families and due to the rapid change affecting agriculture world wide, he has been invited to share his insights and energies on family farm survival from Hawaii to Prince Edward Island and stretching across North America from California and Boston, to the North West Territories

Chad Kruger
(Speaker): Shades of Green Plenary Saturday 9:00 - 10:00 - event
Kruger received a B.A. in Philosophy and History (1997) and an Academic Certificate in Ecointensive Agriculture Technologies (1998) from Northwest College in Kirkland, Washington, an M.S. in Land Resources (2003) and is a Ph.D. candidate in Land Resources from the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He was an Au Sable Graduate Fellow at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His professional experience includes more than 10 years of experience in teaching, extension and research on the adoption of sustainable agriculture systems and technologies and administration of a research policy network. He currently serves as the Director of Outreach for the Climate Friendly Farming™ Project, which is researching agricultural practices and technologies that reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon in soils, and provide renewable, biomass-based substitutes for fossil fuel-based products.

Claire Sharpe
(Speaker):Labels - Basic and Organic Saturday 3:30 - 5:00 - event
I started with the federal government in 1985 in the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.  I've been with the CFIA since its inception 10 years ago and in both organizations I've worked primarily with the food labelling legislation (ie, the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations).  My role is one of consumer protection; I work with retailers, manufacturers, and importers to ensure accurate representation in labelling and advertising and fair play in the marketplace.

Deborah Henderson
(Speaker):Predator, Pollinator, Parasite: Saturday 1:30 - 5:00 - event
Deborah Henderson received her Ph.D. in Entomology from UBC and in 1988 established E.S. Cropconsult Ltd. to offer Integrated Pest Management and research services to both conventional and organic growers of vegetable and berry crops in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. The company has thrived and has an active research programme involving biological and non-chemical management strategies for pests and diseases. Its mission is to contribute to replacing environmentally harmful products and processes with ecologically and biologically sound alternatives. In 2004, she received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Professional Pest Management Association of BC.

In 2005 Deborah accepted the position of Director of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen University College. The Institute has recently been awarded a grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to build a laboratory and geothermal greenhouse facility – to pursue research and development of new biological controls for growers, integrated energy climate control systems for horticultural greenhouses, and new crop production systems for these greenhouses.

A great concern for agriculture in the face of the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil have moved her to consider how we will feed ourselves in the future, and begin working on, and encouraging others to plan for our future food sustainability.

Derek Lynch
(Speaker): Recent Research Saturday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
As co-manager of an agricultural consulting service for over eight years, and again as the research professor with the OACC during the period 2002-2005, I have had the opportunity to work directly with organic producers, primarily in Eastern Canada, in conducting station-based and on-farm research relevant to organic production, and in providing soil, and manure management advisory services. The willingness of many of these organic producers to continually innovate has provided a wonderful opportunity to participate with them in evaluating new production systems and practices. This close link with industry continues to inform much of my research emphasis and direction now undertaken as Canada Research Chair in Organic Agriculture.

My specific research experience and interests include: Organic production systems, nutrient cycling in agro-ecosystems, soil organic matter dynamics, composting and management of manures and organic wastes, soil microbiology, and legume physiology.

Don Low
(Speaker):Trends to Local - Getting Past the Hype Sunday 10:30 - 1:30 - event
Don Low, Industry Specialist/Economist, Industry Competitiveness Branch, BCMAL, Creston

Don is also a partner with his wife Susan in Quiet Valley Farms, a cherry orchard in the Creston valley. Don has worked with the Ministry as the BC Pork Industry Specialist and the District Agriculturalist in Creston. Prior to his starting with the BC Ministry of Agriculture in 1989, Don owned and operated a pig farm, worked as an agricultural lender and farm financial management instructor in Alberta, and managed a cocoa plantation in Papua New Guinea.

Elietha Bocskei
(Speaker): Is Organic Better?Saturday 10:30 - 12:00 - event
Elietha Bocskei is a registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics at the University of British Columbia and internship at St Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. She has worked in multiple disciplines including the Vancouver Island Health Authority, BC Cancer Agency, Victoria Native Friendship Centre and is currently working on a food access project for inviduals and families living on low income, a partnership project with the Salvation Army, VIHA and the University of Victoria.  Elietha grew on on the North end of Vancouver Island and returned to the island three years ago. She enjoys hiking, camping, art, tasty local food and enjoying time with family and friends..

Gary Jones
(Speaker): Recent Research Saturday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
Having worked his way through many sectors of the industry via the Ministry of Agriculture, tissue culture labs, salad marketing companies and as 'technical manager' at the biggest bedding & potted plant producer in the UK, Gary decided to try his hand at teaching and moved to Canada in '99. His experience in the 'conventional' greenhouse industry is now being seen in a new way from the point of view of sustainability issues, and as Chair of Production at Kwantlen University College's School of Horticulture he is now building a number of new courses and programs around this growing area of interest.

George Hamilton
(Speaker):Trends to Local - Getting Past the Hype Sunday 10:30 - 1:30 - event
George and Gerry Hamilton, and their boys Jeff and Neal, pioneered cranberry farming on Vancouver Island. George’s family began cranberry farming in 1980; their man-made bogs are marvels of innovation and energy, resulting in the production of top quality berries. G. Hamilton & Sons Cranberry Farm contributes to the 84 million pounds of cranberries produced annually by the BC cranberry industry. In addition to farming duties, George volunteers with numerous agricultural organizations and spends many hours at meetings in Canada and the USA on behalf of fellow producers. George is the past Chair of the BC Agriculture Council and currently chairs the Agriculture Environment Initiatives Management Committee of the BC Agriculture Council. The Agriculture Environment Initiatives assist the agriculture industry in the search for solutions to environmental issues and wildlife agriculture conflicts. If not at a meeting, George can be found on the farm in his boots and overalls working on Gerry’s To-Do List..

Heather Pritchard
(Speaker): Securing Farmland for Local Food Production Saturday 10:30 – 12:00 - event
Heather is the Executive Director of FarmFolk/CityFolk Society. She has over 40 years experience assisting non-profits, co-operatives and small businesses with financial planning, organizational development and personnel management. As an active member in a land co-op (Fraser Common Farm Co-op) where she lives and Glorious Organics Co-op, a certified organic farm business on Fraser Common Farm which she founded and continues to work, Heather has first-hand experience with the challenges of sustainable agriculture. Heather co-wrote the FarmFolk/CityFolk book. She is on the GVRD Agricultural Advisory Committee, a founding member of the Vancouver Food Policy Council, the co-chair of ALR-PEC (Agricultural Land Reserve-Protection and Enhancement Committee) and a Director of the BC Food Systems Network.

Jason Found
(Speaker): Securing Farmland for Local Food Production Saturday 10:30 – 12:00 - event
Jason is presently a Director of the worker’s cooperative Sustainability Solutions Group (SSG) and the FarmFolk/CityFolk representative on Vancouver Island. He has a broad background in environmental ethics, policy, organic agriculture, food politics, urban development and small business; and holds a Masters in Environmental Policy from Oxford University.

His focus is on creating sustainable local food systems in partnership with local non-profits and government agencies. He also works in the green building and affordable housing sectors with the other members of his worker’s co-operative. He is based in Victoria.

Jocelyn Demers
(Speaker): Gardens of Destiny Saturday 10:30 - 12:00 - event
Filmmaker, Jocelyn Demers meets Dan Jason on Salt Spring Island on Canada’s west coast.  Dan is an organic gardener with a fantastic selection of seeds, vegetables, grains, medicinal plants and flowers.  He is also the head of the grassroots organization called the Seed and Plant Sanctuary for Canada, a network of Canadian gardeners who are preserving as much plant diversity as is possible.  Mr. Jason has been a long time critic of the non-organic food system in North America.  Jocelyn Demers explores Dan’s garden and seed world and investigates what other experts from the agriculture milieu think about Dan’s observations.

GARDENS OF DESTINY investigates many important issues related to pollution and health.  These include:  How humans have died because of genetically modified plants, the resilience that results in insects and pests because pesticides are utilized in agriculture; and why some countries have environmental courts of justice.  The film also reveals how a major food crisis was created because of mono crops due to pressure from the World Bank.  Additionally, it examines how organic food has proven to be protective against cancer.

GARDENS OF DESTINY offers several easy and sometimes fun solutions for citizens and governments.  Two of these remedies include supporting organic growers and starting your own organic garden.

75 minutes

Karl Hann
(Speaker) Microorganisms - the Good, the Bad and the Balance Sunday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
Back in Transylvania I and all my ancestors practiced organic agriculture without even being aware of it.  For millennia this was the norm and it worked.  The North American bumper crops attracted a lot of attention.  This was paired with crop failures and famines in other regions creating a false picture about the cause for these events.  At one point I came under the influence of various marvelous chemicals that promised to achieve miracles for mankind.  After about 12 years of trying and watching I reverted to the more time proven methods of biodynamic and organic agriculture.  After 35 years of practical experience with plants and animals I am convinced that the "conventional" agriculture has to be reconsidered.  Only a natural agriculture will be providing sustainable bumper crops.

Linda Edwards
(Speaker) National Standards Update: Saturday 5:00 - 6:30 - event
Linda Edwards - An organic tree fruit grower. Has worked on standards for the COABC and on the CGSB for many years.  Is currently on the Technical Committee of the CGSB representing the BC Organic Fruit Growers Association.   Currently working on the Permitted Substance List and Crops committees. Set up a Brand Names List for COABC some years ago.  Currently working on a sub-committee of the OFC to establish a National Directory of Inputs.

Mark Robbins
(Speaker):Trends to Local - Getting Past the Hype Sunday 10:30 - 12:30 - event

Mark Robbins has worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands for approx 20 years, initially as the Horse Industry Specialist and currently as the Regional Agrologist in the Fraser Valley. He also has a small pasture poultry farm where I sell farm direct and some wholesale to specialty meat markets. Mark holds an UBC undergrad degree in animal science, a MBA from SFU and MA in Economics from SFU.

Mary Alice Johnson
(Speaker): Developing Your Farm Business Saturday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
(Speaker): Microorganisms - the Good, the Bad & the Balance Sunday 1:30-3:00 - event
Mary Alice Johnson is a veteran farmer, writer and educator who owns and manages a 15 acre farm in Sooke. She teaches farming workshops and courses, writes articles regularly for the Canadian Organic Grower, and has a strong apprentice program on her farm. In addition to being active in the organic movement locally and nationally, she has traveled in many countries of Asia collecting information about sustainable agriculture practices

Mary Jane Collins
(Speaker): Farmer Stretch Saturday/Sunday 7:30 - 9:00 - event
Mary Jane is passionate about movement. She loves to dance, and practices both qi gong and gentle yoga.  You will find her in the kids art tent at the Moss Street Market as she’s crazy for children and art.

Michel R. Saumur
(Speaker): National Standards Update: Saturday 5:00 - 6:30 - event
Michel has been a proud public servant for 25 years.   Since November 2004,   Michel has been leading the Organic Project and is now the National Manager for the Canada Organic Office. Ken Bruce will be speaking on Michel's behalf.   Before that and for 14 years,  Michel has been Chief of Imports for Processed and Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Programs for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.   Prior to this position he was the Agriculture Canada National Program Auditor for Processed Products Establishment Inspection Program and before that a District Program Officer in Hamilton, Ontario.

He has a B. Sc. in Agronomy from Laval University and a .Sc. in Animal Physiology from Ottawa University. Michel has also ISO 10011 and HACCP Certification.

On a personal side, Michel is the father of two wonderful kids, a boy of 24 and a girl of 21 which still keep him busy. He is owner of a hobby farm where he raises and tends to sheep in his spare time. And finally, he enjoys playing, coaching and watching hockey;   especially when his kids play or when the Ottawa Senators play.

Mike Balderston
(Speaker): Farm Machinery Maintenance: Sunday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
Halliburton Farm’s tractor guy and Mr. Fixit.

Born in England, Lincolnshire, 1927. Father an Agricultural Auctioneer & real estate agent who had several farms.

Nottinghan U's agriculture faculty at Loughborough.
Immigrated to Canada 1955. Lived in Edmonton 10 years. Worked for an oilfield supply co as oil pump specialist.
Moved to BC 1965. Joined the Provincial Forset Service as a research tech.
Left in 1987 to start up a small machinery contracting business which will continue into the forseable future.

Paddy Doherty
(Speaker): National Standards Update: Saturday 5:00 - 6:30 - event
Along with two partners, Paddy Doherty own and manages Dragon Mountain Farm; a 500 acre sheep ranch and market garden.  Paddy has been involved in the organic movement since 1992, when he helped found the COABC.  Paddy is currently the Co-ordinator of the Organic Sector Development Program and the Organic Environmental Farm Program.   He is also Chair of the IFOAM Accreditation Criteria Committee and the National Organic Value Chain Roundtable.

Peter Johnston
(Host): Forum on Food Safety Regulations Friday Forum 5:30-7:00 pm - event
(Speaker): Shades of Green Plenary Saturday 9:00 - 10:00 - event
In 1974 I was offered a job teaching and being principal of a two-room school on an island in the centre of the Georgia Strait. It was an island with no car ferry and no centrally generated electricity, and fewer than 300 people, 25 of them enrolled in the school from K through grade 7. The school, though located at one end of the island, was the centre of the community.

After a couple of years of teaching and administering, I retired from full-time teaching, and a few years later fell in love with a woman who had a piece of property with some acres of good soil. Over the last nearly 30 years we have grown garlic commercially, and have learned to grow many crops on a small scale, increasingly by using hand tools and with less and less fossil fuel.

Over the years I have been involved in regional and provincial organic and certification organizations, and also increasingly in my local community, which has grown somewhat in number, but hugely in our impact on the environment.

The best that could happen will be for every household and family to grow even a small bit of its own food. We have become almost completely separated from our food, and from our agrarian roots.

My ideas rely on many people's thinking and writing. Principal among them is Michael Pollan, who is probably the most pleasurable and interesting to read.

Ramona Scott
(Speaker): Securing Farmland for Local Food Production Saturday 10:30 – 12:00 - event
Ramona Scott, Manager of Agricultural Programs,TLC The Land Conservancy of BC

Ramona Scott has 40 years’ combined work experience in park planning and management; eco-tourism; conservation; natural foods retail; producer co-ops; native plant landscaping; and agriculture.

She has a BA in Geography; graduate studies in Forestry and Outdoor Recreation Resource Studies, and an MA in Culture and Geo-Justice. She is a certified BC Environmental Farm Planning Advisor.

As Manager of Agricultural Programs with TLC The Land Conservancy of BC she feels very fortunate to be able to apply a combination of all her work experiences into one job: - wildlife and farmland conservation, agri-ecology, agri-tourism, promotion and public education.

Robin Tunnicliffe
(Speaker) Starting Your Organic Farm Saturday 3:30 - 5:00 - event
Robin Tunnicliffe is a farmer and food policy researcher.  She is a co-owner of Saanich Organics, a cooperative marketing business that sells local organic produce to area families and restaurants. She also sells produce at the Moss St market in Victoria.  She is currently completing an MA at the University of Victoria on the value of local agriculture.

Rochelle Eisen
(Facilitator): VO/CC/Admin Roundtable Sat & Sun 7:30 - 9:00 - event
(Speaker): National Standards Update Saturday 5:00 - 6:30 - event
Rochelle Eisen holds a B.Sc. (agr) degree from University of Guelph and has worked for the BC organic sector since 1989 completing; over 4000 assorted inspections or file reviews, standards reviews, needs analysis, application development, event coordination and extensive educational outreach. Currently Rochelle is working as COABC’s Organic Extension Agent, and enjoying helping the BC organic community grow and mature.

Samuel Godfrey
(Facilitator): Shades of Green Plenary Saturday 9:00 - 10:00 - event
Samuel Godfrey is the Chair of Farmers Without Borders, a farmer-led non-profit organization with a mission to assist struggling agricultural communities in developing regions and to strengthen regenerative agriculture around the globe. He owned and operated a certified organic farming business for many years and currently works part-time on a farm in the Cowichan Valley and as the administrator of the Islands Organic Producers Association. He has a law degree from Osgoode Hall and a background in human rights and social justice work.

Sarah Davidson
(Speaker) Labels - Basic and Organic Saturday 3:30 - 5:00 - event
Sarah Davidson has been involved in various certification bodies for 13 years. During the last three years she has reviewed lots of organic labels. 

Sharon Rempel
(Speaker):Green Seeds and Red Fife Sunday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
Sharon Rempel has had her hands in heritage wheat fields and the grassroot organic sector for two decades. She's the founder of 'Seedy Saturday' and the 'Bread and Wheat Festival' and is a cultural and agricultural historian. 

Stephanie Wells
(Speaker): National Standards Update: Saturday 5:00 - 6:30 - event
Stephanie Wells runs the Western office, for the Organic Trade Association in Canada; former manager, Organic Crop Improvement Association International; former editor, Africa information Afrique, a southern Africa feature news service. From 1973 to 1981, ran small family farm in Quebec with dairy goats, hay, oats, maple sugar bush and market garden.

Tina Fraser
(Speaker):Developing Your Farm Business Saturday 1:30 - 3:00 - event
(Tour Guide): Haliburton Farm Tour Sunday 3:00-? - event
Tina Baynes (Fraser) is a market gardener, growing certified organic produce on the Saanich Peninsula for 19 years.  As well, she is the farm manager and a director of the Haliburton Community Organic Farm, is an instructor of community education courses at Camosun College in organic agriculture and is chairperson for the Canadian Organic Growers-Vancouver Island Chapter.  She loves the adventure of organic growing, the beauty and bounty of the harvest and the resourcefulness of her colleagues.

Bios for Fresh Voices Contest

First Place Jordan Marr - Essay
Currently, I am a 26-year-old wanna-be farmer visiting farms around BC to learn about the practical and political aspects of farming. I consider myself a 'Fresh Voice' because in the space of five years I have gone from being a suburban kid completely clueless about food to a smug university student convinced he knew everything about food, to a humbled farm apprentice who realized he knew very little about it.  I'm learning more every day though, and my desire to see changes to our food system inspired me to share my ideas with you.  My interest in agriculture began in 2003 when I enrolled in a bachelor program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC.  I graduated in 2006, and after that I participated in a seven month SOIL program apprenticeship on an organic farm in Nova Scotia.  I am now considering farming as a career.

Second Place Robin Wheeler - Essay
As founder of our local organic growers group, (One Straw Society, lower  Sunshine Coast) I have experienced both pain and pleasure sharing the struggles of local market gardeners. I have worked to keep networks open with potlucks and forums, and this is helping to relieve the sense of isolation and is instilling trust and better cooperation between growers. Increasing our poor food production levels without infringing further on wild places is an interesting balancing act and a true goal.  Working with local growers and analyzing issues helped me complete a book on food security that will be published in the fall of this year.  I am currently acting as Food Security Coordinator for our area.

Third Place Heather Stretch - Essay
I am the main operator of the Northbrook Farm, the certified organic vegetable and blueberry farm that my husband and I own on the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island.  I am a mother of three, and co-owner of Saanich Organics.  My "fresh voice" comes from my conviction that farming need not be either a solitary, individual pursuit nor a corporate business, but rather, can open the doors for cooperation on many levels.  I co-own my property with other family members, co-own a cooperatively run distribution business, work with employees and apprentices, and share our land with former appretices and employees.  I am also passionate about the need for farms of all sizes to be financially viable.  Growing healthy food sustainably is perhaps the most important job one can do, and so our society must stop expecting farmers to do it on a volunteer basis.


First Place Gabriel Forbes - Essay
I'm a co-owner of Green Room Organics, a PACS certified organic farm in Gibsons. My partner and I started the farm in 2006 with the goal of providing high-quality, locally-grown organic produce for the Sunshine Coast. You can learn more about Green Room Organics by visiting our Web site:

Second Place Melanie Sylvestre - Essay
Originally from Quebec, I entered the organic farming world 5 years ago as the manager of a CSA farm. I moved to BC in 2005, in search of new experiences and I quickly found the perfect farming match. I am now running my own small scale production and working as a part time manager of a one-acre section for a well-establish company called Saanich Organics. My voice is influenced by my own experience and by the farming community that surround me. Add to that lot of travelling and bit of education, and you’ve got one “fresh voice”!

Third Place John Ehrlich - Essay
After completing university, John Ehrlich apprenticed for five years on organic and biodynamic farms back east and then began managing CSA farms. Currently he owns and operates, with his spouse Katy, Alderlea Farm in Duncan. It has been Demeter certified since its inception in 2003.

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