Organic Food

Conference 2017

Friday February 24 to Sunday February 26, 2017
Coast Bastion, Nanaimo, BC
Snuneymuxw Territory

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Alexandra Lyon
Alexandra Lyon

Alexandra is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the UBC Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. She holds a PhD in Environment and Resources and an M.S. in Agroecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alex's doctoral research sought to understand and address the seed needs of the organic vegetable sector through participatory variety trials on organic farms, part of the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC). Her current work with the BC Seed Trials aims to develop improved methods for farmer participation in evaluating crop varieties for sustainable production and scaling up regional seed systems. In her spare time, she is involved in organizing the Student Organic Seed Symposium, a network that supports graduate students across North America to become the next generation of organic plant breeders.

Anne Macey
Anne Macey

Anne Macey has been involved in the organic sector for over 30 years in many different roles. She has contributed as a writer and editor for several COG publications including the Organic Livestock Handbook, A Guide to Understanding the Canadian Organic Standards, and Living with Worms in Organic Sheep Production. Anne was also involved in compiling the Animal Welfare on Organic Farms Fact Sheets. In a past life in Ontario, she operated a small, mixed, organic farm and more recently has worked as a VO in BC, as well as the director of COABC's Accreditation Board. Anne represents Canadian Organic Growers on the Canadian General Standards Board Organic Technical Committee and is the convenor of the Livestock Working Group.

Ashlee Cooper - Tsartlip First Nation - Language Specialist
Ashlee Cooper

Ashlee PEPÁḴIYE Cooper ŦE NE SNÁ. ĆSE LA,E SEN EṮ W̱SÁNEĆ I, Mowachat. SCUȻEL SEN I, W̱,SENĆOŦEN,IST SEN EṮ UVIC. ĆȺI I, W̱UĆIST SEN EṮ PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW̱. My name is Ashlee PEPÁḴIYE Cooper. I am from the Saanich and Mowachaht land. I am a student for SENĆOŦEN revitalization at Uvic. I am working and teaching at the native plant and garden centre PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW̱. My role at the PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW̱ is to teaching our students the importance of caring for our land, understanding the cultural uses of native plants, and sharing the SENĆOŦEN language with them.

Barbara Odegard
Barbara Odegard

Market garden farmer since 1990
Certified organic farm since 1997
Chartered Herbalist (1998)
Master Organic Gardener Certificate Gaia College 2008
Teaching, Writing, Lecturing

Co-own and operate Ironwood Farm since 1996. This is an 11.5 acre commercial, market garden farm operation.

Collaborated in creating/writing/delivering a 12 week course on small scale agriculture, with emphasis on organic methods, for North Island College. This program ran for two years. Also collaborated in creating/writing/delivering a "Record Keeping Tools For Community Gardens" program for the BC Ministry of Agriculture's First Nations Agriculture Business Development.

Through the CV Women's Institute developing an education centre that focuses on preserving food and fibre knowledge based on historic and current agricultural activity for the central and North Vancouver Island region.


  • Errington Farmer's Market- board member in the early 1990's
  • S.O.S. (Society of Services) District 69, Parksville. - board member for 3 terms in the early 1990's. Served as chair of the Mother's and Tots program and co-ordinated annual Christmas Program for the district.
  • CVFM ( Comox Valley Farmers Market) - board member for 8 terms over 15 years
  • COABC (Certified Organic Assoc. of B.C.) - 2 years
  • PACS ( Pacific Agriculture Certifying Society) - 2 years
  • BCFMA (B.C. Farmers Market Assoc.) - 2 years
  • CVSS (Comox Valley Seed Savers ) - 2 years
  • CHof BC Association (Chartered Herbalists of B.C.) 2015 - current director
  • Comox Valley Women's Institute - Chair/ director - 2013 - present

Carmen Wakeling - CEO and Co-owner of Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd
Carmen Wakeling

Eatmore is a Certified Organic Farm producing a variety of sprouts, greens and vegetables on 3.75 acres near Courtenay, BC. Our products are sold through restaurants, grocery stores and wholesale distributors throughout Western Canada. We produce over 8000 pounds of sprouts and greens weekly, year-round.

Carmen has been involved in all aspects of company development including: Marketing, financial management, innovation, human resources, facility development, business strategy, succession planning, food safety system development, communication, evaluation and development of core business systems, organic certification, community engagement, and organizational development both internal and external to Eatmore.

Carmen has served in numerous positions on an array of boards related to industry, advocacy and community and is currently involved at a board level with:

  • Vice President Small Scale Food Processors Association (SSFPA)
  • Vice President International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA)
  • Chair of Sprouts Canada
  • Chair of Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia (COABC)
  • Vice Chair of Pacific Agricultural Certification Society (PACS)
  • Co-Chair Vancouver Island Organic Collective Society (VIOCS)
  • Industry lead: Science Clusters II Research project

Celia White
Celia White

Celia first became passionate about food when she learned to garden with her mother as a child. Now, an avid gardener, fisher, hunter and preserver, she engages with the food system in as many ways as possible. Celia began volunteering with Meal Exchange in 2011, and transitioned from her volunteer position into a full-time position as Meal Exchange Real Food Challenge Coordinator, based in B.C., but working nationally. She has learned from farmers and seed savers around the world, and she is passionate about continuing to learn how to transform our world through the food we grow, eat and share.

Chris Bodnar
Chris Bodnar

Chris Bodnar co-owns and operates Close to Home Organics with his wife, Paige, at Glen Valley Organic Farm in Abbotsford. They operate a 145-member Community Shared Agriculture program and sell at two weekly farmers markets during the farming season. Prior to farming, Chris earned a PhD in Communication from Carleton University. He now teaches the Business of Agriculture course in Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Sustainable Agriculture program. Chris sits on the board of the Mount Lehman Credit Union.

Corey Brown - Blackbirds Organics, Cawston
Corey Brown

Corey runs a 3 acre mixed pasture-based farm in the Similkameen Valley. certified by SOOPA since 2006 for assorted ground crops, tree fruits, layers, meat birds & turkey.

DeLisa Lewis PhD
 - Research Associate
 - Sessional Instructor Faculty of Land and Food Systems
 - The University of British Columbia
DeLisa Lewis

DeLisa has close to two decades of experience managing certified organic mixed vegetable production systems. She was lead instructor for the UBC Farm Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture from 2011-2014, and her teaching, research, and consulting continue with focus areas in soil nutrient management, farm planning, and new farmer training. Her volunteer service to the community of growers in British Columbia includes membership on the COABC accreditation board and North Cowichan Agriculture Advisory Committee.

Deb Foote
Deb Foote

Deb has been involved with distribution and retailing organic food since 1979. She joined Wild West Organic Harvest in 1986 where for twenty years she held numerous positions including sales and marketing manager and purchasing manager. She was responsible for overseeing Organic Certification for Wild West and later for SunOpta and United Natural Foods Canada. In 1993 Deb & her husband Garth Owen founded the Organic Grocer, an award-winning retail store based in Surrey. In 2008 Deb completed the IOIA training for Basic Farm Inspection, and has since upgraded to the Canada Standard.

Now residing on Mayne Island, Deb is involved with a number of community organizations and serves as a director for the Mayne Island Conservancy Society and the Mayne Island Recycling Society and the Mayne Island Early Childhood Society. She has also been a member of the Mayne Island for Elizabeth May campaign for the last 2 federal elections.

Over the last 30 years Deb has served as director for the following organizations: Northern de Lights Food Co-op, Wild West Organic Harvest, CCEC Credit Union, The Canadian Federation of Worker Co-ops, FarmFolk CityFolk, Pacific Agricultural Certification Society (PACS), the Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia and the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada.

Glenn Wakeling - Co-owner and President of Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd. 2017
Glenn Wakeling

Glenn is an ex-patriot New Zealander who has lived in Canada for almost 30 years. Glenn and his wife Carmen have been involved in Eatmore Sprouts for 28 years. In this time Glenn has been involved in all aspects of the company, from turning compost to evaluating logistics and financial matters.

Glenn has had a lot of connection to the Organic community here in BC. Glenn was the president of the COABC in the late 90's, He was involved in the many hard decisions early on. Glenn has attended many organic conferences and is a strong supporter of organic producers and organizations.

When not working at the farm Glenn can be found on the dance floor or doing yoga! Join him for a morning yoga session at the conference Saturday a.m. room Douglas Room at 6:30 a.m.

Greg McLaren, Managing Director of Farm|Food|Drink
Greg McLaren

Greg McLaren is a business management and marketing professional specializing in marketing, business development, and workshops for Farm|Food|Drink businesses and organizations. Greg has over 30 years of experience in marketing and sales operations and the teaching of these same processes. He and his team have developed and managed business planning projects, marketing programs, and advertising campaigns for large and small farm and food businesses and the associations that serve them. His focus is on growing local and regional food producers and farm businesses throughout BC.

Heather Pritchard
Heather Pritchard

Heather has been with FarmFolk CityFolk since it began in 1993. Her work has included: supporting existing and developing Community Farms, co-coordinating the BC region of the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Food Security and partnering with Young Agrarians. Heather continues, on contract, with FarmFolk CityFolk, to develop a BC Foodland Trust Cooperative.

A founding member of FarmFolk CityFolk, the Vancouver Food Policy Council and the BC Food Systems Network, she currently participates in: the Real Estate Foundation Advisory Committee, the MAAC (Ministry of Agriculture Advisory Committee) and is Chair of Slow Food in Canada. In 2015 Heather was given the Brad Reid Memorial Award for her outstanding contribution to the organic sector in British Columbia.

Jen Cody
Jen Cody

Jen is currently the executive director for Nanaimo Foodshare. She comes to farming, seed saving and working with First Nations communities learning about indigenous foods through a her background in community development and nutrition. She has been active in the food communitysince 1998 and is a founding member of the BCFSN.

Jen is an active coordinator/worker and founder of Growing Opportunities Community Farm.

In it's 9th year, the farm is working with people of all levels of ability. As a part of her farm involvement, Jen is the farm lead for the Carrot Seed Research Project.

Jen coordinates the Centre Island Seed Savers Network and is active in teaching seed saving skills in the community. Jen is also a founding member of BC EcoSeeds Coop and continues to support creating a local seed system through her work at the farm, beekeeping, and in the community teaching and organizing community projects with Nanaimo Foodshare.

Judith Arney
Judith Arney

Judith Lyn Arney is a local ethnoecologist of British ancestry, raised in W̱SÁNEĆ territory. She has worked in restoration of traditional food ecosystems in Mexico, Italy and Japan. Currently Judith works in W̱SÁNEĆ territory managing a number of restoration projects as well as the PEPÀḴEṈ HÁUTW̱ Native Plant Nursery, which supplies plants for these restoration projects and also serves as the home for the PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW̱ Native Plants & Garden Program at ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ Tribal School. She is passionate about incorporating traditional practices into the fields of restoration and native plant propagation in respectful ways which honour the land and the people whose cultures have stewarded it for millennia.

Julia Grace
Julia Grace

Julia Grace is the head Cheesemaker and co-owner of Moonstruck Organic Cheese. She has been making organic cheese since 1998. Julia will be presenting a workshop on "Getting started with Wholesale- Trials and Tribulations." She will help you assess the consequences, benefits, and alternatives to expanding your business to the wholesale market. She will discuss hot topics for your business planning: supporting the extra costs involved, anticipating the regulations you will need to meet, developing a marketing platform, packaging and pricing, and will it be financially worth it for you? The benefits can be increased cash flow and a more even financial year for your business.

Karen Fenske
Karen Fenske

Sustainability is Karen's passion. Helping others to plan and be resourceful has been her mandate for over 25 years. Karen, a financial consultant with Investors Group, has experience in comprehensive planning, agriculture business, policy and family/ group mediation.

Anyone who knows her can attest to her vocation of listening to people's goals and dreams which she then pulls all the pieces into "doable", comprehensive plans. Her communication and mediation skills assist groups, couples and families to plan, set goals, and prepare for the future. Whether she is working with individuals or organizations she encourages others to aspire to dignified, comfortable and significant lives.

After moving to Vernon in 2007 with her husband and two children she became the COABC Administrator. She then went on to work in BC agriculture on a variety of projects with organizations like the BC Farmers Markets, BC Blueberry and Raspberry Council, BC4H, etc. She is licensed to sell Mutual Funds, Insurance and is a member of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners. Her moto is: "There is lots of living to do ... are you ready?"

Lorna Shuter
Lorna Shuter

Lorna Shuter has had a keen interest in growing plants for over forty years and is an avid farmer who loves to help others grow pesticide free food. With years of experience working in the Horticulture and Agriculture sector, she is always willing to share her experiences and knowledge with others to promote the growing of sustainable, pesticide free vegetables, fruits, herbs and medicinal plants.

Lorna Shuter is member of the Lil’wat Nation, and presently lives in the Nicola Valley with husband and family. Lorna started to growing vegetables at an early age alongside her father who was always turning empty fields into big vegetable gardens, and her mother would be busy preserving all they could for their family of eight. Her grandfather introduced her to the use of traditional medicine plants that he collected from the nearby forests of his territory.

Lorna was owner operator of a Horticultural and Landscape business where she designed, installed and maintained the gardens with the help of her staff in Calgary, Alberta. Later, she bought a peach orchard, where family and Lorna, watered, pruned, harvested and delivered fresh peaches throughout the Okanagan Valley.

Lorna was the founder of the Nicola Valley Farmers Market in Merritt, with the assistance and encouragement of friends such as C. Kneen and J. Cody.

Lorna managed the Shulus Community Garden that was started in 1998, on a four-acre plot of land. The Lower Nicola Indian Band hired a crew to clear the land and plant a beautiful garden of assorted vegetables, herbs, and garlic. They built two small green houses, a compost and worm farm demonstration site that was used to fertilize the entire garden. In 2012-13 a large medicine garden was designed and planted.

The Shulus Community Garden is expanding in 2017-18 to include a sustainable community food security program, and will include lessons and hands on training sessions at the garden throughout the year. This program is to encourage more community members to grow gardens at their homes and enjoy the freshness of home grown food.

Margaret Daskis - Fresh Ideas & Solutions Inc.
Margaret Daskis

President/Founder/Certified Food Scientist Obtaining her Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science from the University of British Columbia in 1979, Margaret realized that to work in a Food company she would have to understand the language of the associated departments, so she attended BCIT to further her education in accounting, management, economics and marketing and sales. The traditional food processing industry was collapsing in the early 80s which although looking bleak actually provided Margaret with exceptional experiences working for a lot of diverse companies. January 1983 brought an opportunity to work at Nalley's Canada, starting as Quality Control in their cannery, then into their dressing plant, pickle plant and later as production supervisor in the snack plant. Through the next 10 years her role evolved from Quality Assurance Manager to Director of Technical Services (Quality Assurance and Research and Development was a mouthful!). The mid 90s saw the next major wave of changes to the food industry with many large companies ceasing their production operations in B.C. During her management role at Nalley's Canada she received a diploma in Total Quality Management from Queen's University and qualified many food processing facilities creating complementary products for Nalley's and their clients.

The creativity and resiliency of the B.C. entrepreneur and their focus on healthy living and environmental stewardship opened up an exciting avenue for unique and varied food products. The main thing missing was access to food science consultancy. Margaret was asked to provide expertise to a number of contacts who knew of her background and Fresh Ideas & Solutions Inc. was born in 1998 where she and Connie Wong began providing consulting support to the B.C. food industry.

Throughout her career, Margaret has been an active participant in the BC Food Technologists and its affiliates, Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST) and Institute of Food (IFT). Her contributions have been acknowledged through the IFT Leaders Award, CIFST Award for Food Safety and Quality Award and participation on the executive committee hosting the 1984 and 1994 CIFST Conferences in Vancouver. Being a member of the inaugural class of the Internationally recognized Certified Food Scientist designation, Margaret confirms her accumulated education and expertise in the profession of food technology.

Mel Sylvestre
Mel Sylvestre

Mel has been working on small-scale organic farms for more than a decade and holds a B.Sc. in Soil and Plant Science from UBC. She integrated seed production to her practices in 2007 and has since been an active member of the seed community in BC and beyond. In 2012, she initiated the Seed Hub at UBC Farm, a project focus on the convergence of seed production, education, research, and community building. She is currently the Perennial, Biodiversity and Seed Hub coordinator at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm. She is also a founding member of the BC Eco Seed Co-op which focus on growing quality seed for BC.

Nicholas Peterson

Keynote speaker: Nicholas Peterson is a farmer at Nicola Valley Produce ( with his wife Vileena and five children, specializing in gourmet garlic cultivars. He is a member of the Lower Nicola Indian Band in Merritt, BC, and was elected Councillor in 2013. Nicholas is currently working on his Masters of Environmental Science from Thompson Rivers University, exploring Native Seed Germination for land reclamation and restoration. Nicholas has always had a passion for growing plants and learning from his natural surroundings. He loves learning and applying the principles taught to him through his First Nations heritage.

Oranya Farms - Jeff Spitters
Oranya Farms

One of the largest Certified Organic Broiler Chicken producer in Canada. We feel with the size we operate at we can provide a much more comprehensive approach to managing all the organic standards that are required as we have a staff specifically dedicated to the year round production of our chicken. We produce upwards of 30,000 - 2.35 kgs. broilers weekly from 12 double deck poultry barns with full outdoor access from 25 days of age onward. We are a family farm, Corry Spitters being the owner along with brother Tony and sons Jeffrey and Jordan as the primary management team.

We also produce upwards of 20,000 Silkie Chickens weekly on 2 additional poultry farms for our Canadian and International ethnic markets.

Robin Tunnicliffe
Robin Tunnicliffe

Robin has been an organic farmer and passionate food activist for 20 years. She apprenticed under some of the organic movement's founding matriarchs in the mid 1990s. She is a co-owner of Saanich Organics, a cooperative marketing business through which she and other local growers market their produce to Victoria-area residents and restaurants. Robin has an M.A. in Food Policy. She has presented at farm conferences across Canada and is a frequent speaker at community events. Together with the other owners of Saanich Organics, she's co-authored a book called "All the Dirt: Reflections on Organic Farming" which has become well-known to Victoria-area gardeners and foodies.

Rochelle Eisen
Rochelle Eisen

Rochelle's expertise is years of verification, agriculture extension and consulting work in and outside the organic sphere. She also works with Dr. Brenda Frick and Gunta Vitins under the banner of Resilient Solutions Consulting - "A diverse, skilled and experienced agri-business consulting team that influences positive change through an innovative and open minded approach." Rochelle is a member of the CFIA's Standards Interpretation Committee and was the convenor for the Preparation Working Group for the Canadian General Standards Board Organic Technical Committee, and as co-convenor for the Agri/Aqua Integration exercise for this latest review. Last, but not least, Rochelle is the current president of the Canadian Organic Growers.

Rod Reid - In Season Farm
Rod Reid

Rod grew up knowing conventional agriculture. He has a chemical engineering degree that he put to work in the oil patch, but after ten years he to returned to agriculture. In Season Farm was founded in 1987, switched to organic production in 1992 and its main business is the production of animal feeds: hen scratch, starters and mixes for turkeys and broilers; feed for poultry, horses, hogs and goats. On the other hand In Season grows mixed organic vegetables on the 4 acres of farmland in the back of the property and they sell at the Farmer's Markets in the Metro Vancouver area.

Dr. Steph Rhebergen
Dr. Steph Rhebergen

Dr. Steph Rhebergen received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon in 2010. Growing up on a dairy farm in Smithers BC, she wanted to continue working in the industry by obtaining a veterinary degree with an interest in dairy medicine.

Dr. Steph spent 2 months at Cornell University participating in the Summer Dairy Institute program where she was able to receive further training and develop a network of dairy practitioners across North America. Since graduating she has pursued an interest in Veterinary Acupuncture and received her certification at the Chi Institute in Florida. Along with the acupuncture, she has a strong interest in herbal medicine and has been developing her own products that she incorporates into her everyday treatment plans. Dr. Steph has the opportunity to regularly work with multiple organic dairy operations and has developed organic treatment protocols that limit the use of antibiotics and other conventional drugs.

When not working, she enjoys participating in outdoor activities such as backcountry skiing, hiking, camping, and whitewater kayaking with her husband Karl and daughter Peyson.

Tayler Krawczyk
Tayler Krawczyk

Tayler is an ecological landscape designer, permaculture practitioner and project manager. Focusing on edible landscaping and ecological design, he operates Hatchet & Seed, with his partner Solara Goldwynn.

Thomas Cherian - Director of Technical Services, Rossdown
Thomas Cherian

For the past 29 years, I've gained experience in various levels of the poultry sectors, such as grandparent and parent broiler flocks. I've focused on broiler management, nutrition, veterinary medicine, hatchery & processing plant food safety. My experiences have extended from India, the Middle East, the Caribbean and North America. For the past 11 years, I've been working as the Director of Technical Services with Rossdown Farms & Natural Foods, based in Abbotsford. Rossdown has a fully integrated, multi species operation from breeders to a processing plant, including organic broilers and free-range RWA turkeys.
Education background: B.Sc Agri. (Animal Science), M.Sc (Animal Science) from India.
Training: HACCP/GMP, Safe Quality Food, PACCO certified, FSPCA Preventive Control for Human Food, Poultry disease diagnostics, from US and Canada

Read BCOG Spring 2018