Board of Directors

The 2023-24 Board of Directors

OCO's board drives the Ontario Organic Strategic Plan, providing oversight and direction to OCO staff.  The board is made up of a mix of industry and at-large representatives.  Board members serve a two-year term and are voted in by OCO members within their industry category every two years.  At-large members are voted on by all member categories. Elections take place amongst members in good standing at the annual AGM. The Executive Committee (President, Vice-President, Secretary, and  Treasurer) is then elected from within the elected board.

Board seats are allocated in proportion to OCO's membership and value chain make-up and will be re-evaluated every few years.  Members are encouraged to bring forward issues at any time and may participate in working group as issues arise.

For a list of past board members, please see our Board Archives page.

*The board shall seek at least one uncertified, ecological producer to be on the Board at all times.

**No member shall be elected to serve as director on the Board representing in an official capacity any one certifying body.

Dean Martin - Producer (Certified)

Dean Martin and his two sons operate Harrow Organic Farms, located in Harrow Ont. They farm 1500 acres of Certified Organic grains and oil seeds in Harrow and on Pelee Island. Dean has been a cash crop farmer in the Harrow area for 40 years and began transitioning to Organic in 2005. Dean is a University of Guelph graduate of 83A, a former director for The Seed Corn Growers of Ontario, a past speaker at the Southwest Ag Conference and the Guelph Organic Conference.

Amanda Peer - Value Chain Representative (certified)

Amanda has worked with the Andersons Canada (formerly Thompson’s Limited) for over 10 years. In her conventional and organic merchant role, she has worked with producers in Ontario, Quebec and PEI.

Norm Hansen - Producer Representative

Norm Hansen is a cum laude graduate of The Ohio State University, and a graduate of the University of Windsor. He has spent his years since graduation teaching, growing cut flowers, and most recently, growing organic greenhouse vegetables. He is the Director of Research and Development for Erieview Acres.  Erieview Acres is the premier Leamington area grower of certified organic greenhouse vegetables. Currently they grow in 19 acres of greenhouses at 3 locations. Norm's top priorities for the organic sector include getting Organic Standards review funding in place; enacting Ontario Organic Legislation; and increasing membership, sector organization coordination, and organic grower participation.

Ann-Marie Saunders - Producer Representative (certified)

Ann-Marie grew up in Beamsville Ontario, on the fruit and table-grape farm that her parents purchased in the mid-1960s. Currently the family operates the farmland as an organic winegrape vineyard which has been certified since 2013. With a focus on healthy soil in support of healthy plants, this eventually led her to Regenerative Agriculture and the simple, yet profound concept that it’s better to work with and not against Nature. Ann-Marie is keen to support OCO’s initiative towards relationship building with the grape and wine sector plus its focus on regulatory recognition for locally-grown Ontario Organic products.

Lauren Stallard - Value Chain Representative (certified)

Lauren is the Sales & Marketing manager at Pfenning's Organic Vegetables - an 800 acre farm that has been growing organic vegetables in New Hamburg, ON since 1981. With over 10 years experience in the organic industry in various sales, marketing, and customer service positions throughout the value chain, Lauren is able to lend perspective from a producer, distributor, retailer, food services, and consumer point-of-view.

Ben Cullen - Value Chain Representative (Certified)

Ben Cullen is the Founder of Cullen’s Foods, an organic food company that promotes Canadian organics by working directly with Canadian farmers and offering full traceability from the consumer to the farm. Ben shares a weekly column in the Toronto Star with his dad Mark Cullen, where they write about a range of environmental topics from gardening to agriculture, and recently co-authored a book together, Escape to Reality: how the world is changing gardening, and gardening is changing the world. Ben holds a Diploma in Agriculture from the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus and a Bachelor of Commerce from Dalhousie University. Ben believes in the potential of organic agriculture to address the dual climate and biodiversity crises while feeding the world, and that the Organic Council of Ontario plays an integral role in realizing that potential.

Nicole North - Value Chain Representative (uncertified)

Nicole is a Growing Media Sales Specialist at Gro-Bark/Walker Industries with an Honor's Degree in Environmental Science (Horticulture & Natural Resource Management) from the University of Guelph. Since the early 1990's, Nicole has spent her career in the Horticultural sector. Her extensive experience in the sector includes Landscape Architecture, Nursery/Garden Centre Management, and Entrepreneur & Business Ownership. 

Ruth Knight - Director-at-Large

Ruth is an advisor, mentor and facilitator, to farmers, land managers and communities. Ruth completed a BSc. in Agriculture and MSc. in Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. For over 35 years Ruth has been involved in the organic sector. As a student at Guelph, Ruth was involved in the early years of the Guelph Organic conference, as well as interning at Oak Manor Farms. During the early pioneering development of organic certification
systems Ruth inspected organic farms across Ontario from 1988 to 1991. From 1992 to 2011, Ruth co-owned a mixed livestock farm in Belmore, Ontario. In 2005, Ruth established her independent consulting company and has provided services to a diversity of farms, businesses, and researchers. Since 2017, Ruth has taught the Organic Production Systems course to undergraduate students at the University of Guelph. Her current board appointments include; Agricultural Adaptation Council and Maitland Conservation Foundation. Past board activities include Ecological Farmers Association, several community organizations and a member based beef feeder finance club.

My objective in participating as a board member with Organic Council of Ontario is to support the development and recognition of an Ontario organic certification as well as build the capacity of Ontario farmers and eaters to create profitable, productive and regenerative farming systems.

Krysten Cooper - Director-at-Large

Krysten Cooper is the Director of Corporate Strategy and Sustainability at Yorkshire Valley Farms, a leading Ontario producer of organic poultry. As part of her role, she is focused on business development, education and outreach, and creating links throughout the organic value chain from producer to consumer. Her work requires her to be well-versed in the organic standards, to understand the political and cultural climate that influences organics, and to be an engaged member of the organic community. Krysten is keen to support OCO's goals of growing organic supply in Ontario, and ensuring the promotion and protection of the organic claim for Ontario-grown products.

Rob Wallbridge - Director-at-Large

Rob Wallbridge grew up on conventional dairy and cash crop farms in Eastern Ontario and produced organic crops and vegetables from 1998 to 2015. He is currently the Agronomy Sales Lead for SureSource Agronomy, following 4 years as the Organic Specialist for Thompsons Limited. Rob has also worked as an organic inspector, has done extension work for the Organic Meadow Co-operative, and has consulted on organic agronomic, marketing, and certification projects. Rob become a Certified Crop Advisor in 2015 and gained his 4R Nutrient Management Specialist designation in 2017. He is also currently a consulting agronomist for Canadian Organic Grower’s Growing Eastern Ontario Organically project. Rob is a member of the Standards Interpretation Committee for the Canada Organic Standard and has volunteered on both the Crops and Livestock Working Groups of the CGSB Technical Committee on Organic Agriculture during the formation and subsequent revisions of the Canada Organic Standard. His goal is to help OCO become a professional, truly representative voice, and the go-to organization for information, resources, and perspectives on Ontario's organic sector.

Dave Lockman - Supporter

Dave grew up on a dairy farm and went on to study agriculture at Alfred College, University of Guelph (BSc Agr.) and Laval University (MBA). He is a Professional Agrologist and a member of l’Ordre des Agronomes du Québec. He has spent the last 15 years working in organic certification and has detailed knowledge of Canadian and US organic regulatory systems. He is currently employed by the Centre for Systems Integration (CSI), a not-for-profit corporation accredited by the CFIA, as the Manager of Organic Program. He has also been a board director for the Guelph Organic Conference since 2008 and is a past director of the Organic Council of Ontario.