OCO’s 2023 Annual General Meeting

We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who joined us for OCO’s 2023 Annual General Meeting on Zoom! 

Board, Staff, and Members alike gathered to elect our new Board of Directors and review OCO’s activities. After the election, the meeting concluded with three engaging breakout rooms that sparked a lot of inspiring ideas and feedback. The full 2023 AGM Minutes can be accessed below.

In the afternoon, OCO Board and Staff teams met with 16 MPPs from all over the province to engage with them about the organic sector and the possibilities of provincial regulation.

We would like to give special thanks to all nominees who stepped up to support the Organic Council of Ontario! The election results are as follows:

Producer Category: Dean Martin

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.

Value Chain (Certified) Category: Lauren Stallard (on behalf of Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables) 

Lauren Stallard 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.

At-Large Category: Krysten Cooper, Rob Wallbridge, Norm Hansen, Ruth Knight

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 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 became 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.
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.
Ruth Knight 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. 

We are thrilled to welcome Dean Martin to our Board of Directors! He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience in organic farming that will be invaluable to the Organic Council of Ontario.

We’d like to take a moment to thank all of our Board members for their incredible commitment, passion, and dedication to Ontario’s organic sector. Their service has been invaluable in helping OCO develop and reach its goals as Ontario’s Voice for Organics. 

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