Organic Food
2015 Conference logo Conference Sponsors

Certified Organic Association of BC
Friday February 27 to Sunday March 1, 2015
Chilliwack, BC


Back to Conference Main Page
Conference Registration - Sold Out

Andrea Gunner, P.Ag.
Andrea Gunner Andrea has been involved in a number of projects connecting agricultural producers with consumers in sustainable and economically viable systems. She has worked in farm business management, market and economic research for individual farm clients, producer co-operatives, farmers markets, first nations, industry associations and government at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. Andrea maintains a productive involvement in food systems and is an actively contributing member of a network of food producers, activists, chefs, nutritionists, dieticians, health care providers and policy makers concerned with food system functionality. Together with her husband, Steve, they run a pastured poultry operation raising roasting chickens and turkeys on a small acreage in the North Okanagan. They are managing partners in a provincially licensed, mobile poultry processing facility and operate a jointly owned feed mill in partnership with a member of the Young Agrarians.

Andrea Lawseth, P.Ag.
Andrea Lawseth Andrea is the Principal/Owner of AEL Agroecological Consulting and a Professional Agrologist with over 11 years of experience in food system and agricultural land use planning, sustainable agricultural promotion, organic certification, and food security. AEL Agroecological Consulting provides agri-environmental consulting services to all levels of government, non-profit organizations and individuals. Andrea has worked in the non-profit, public, and private sectors as an Executive Director, project manager, event planner, and informal educator. As an educator in the non-profit field, Andrea has honed her skills in presenting to a variety of audiences in many different environments, from school classrooms to agricultural fields. As the Agricultural Stewardship Coordinator for the Langley Environmental Partners Society she delivered manure and pasture management workshops for small-lot farmers and, in 2008, wrote the Land Management Guide for Horse Owners and Small-Lot Farmers. She is still a Manure Maven for LEPS and is available to deliver manure and pasture management workshops for large and small groups. You can find more at:

Andrew Arkestyn-Vogler
Andrew Arkestyn-Vogler Andrew Arkesteyn-Vogler is the co-owner and manager of Crisp Organics Ltd in Abbotsford BC. Crisp Organics, established in 2010, is an 11 acre intensive vegetable farm highly focused on providing year round production of top quality greens and an assortment of other vegetables. Prior to starting the farm Andrew worked as an Environmental Educator leading school groups on field trips focused on ecology and fisheries. Andrew is a graduate of Royal Roads University where he obtain a B.Sc. in Environmental Science as well as from the University of British Columbia where he completed and Law Degree.

Anita Fletcher
Anita Fletcher After a career of teaching in International, Private and Public schools, Anita developed networks for local organic food procurement to encourage people to "Live by their Larder". A move to an orchard brought a C.S.A. programme into fruition and the creation of a year-round, local Farmers Market. Anita runs Coldstream Creek Road Orchard with the help of her husband Richard Enns and shadow help of three children. "Never say never."

Anne Macey
Anne Macey

Anne 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. In a past life in Ontario she operated of small mixed organic farm and more recently in BC worked as an inspector and director of the COABC Accreditation Board. Currently Anne is the convenor of the Livestock Working Group for the CGSB Organic Standards Technical Committee and a member of the Animal Welfare Task Force. She is President of the Salt Spring Island.

Agricultural Alliance and is involved with establishing agricultural infrastructure on Salt Spring Island including a community owned and operated Abattoir.

Barbara Ashton
Barbara Ashton Barbara is a no-limits executive search and recruiting professional. Her guiding principles are about exceptional relationships at all levels, in her personal and business life. She is widely known for her insight, clarity and expert hiring results, no matter the level of seniority. Employers and her recruits equally rave about their experience in her hands, and her delivery on stated hiring goals and objectives. She's always at the top of her game, and genuinely cares about the well-being of all whom she comes into contact with.

Barry Baker
Barry Baker Barry's background as a software analyst has helped him bring fresh perspective to several industries, including healthcare informatics, major media, and now industrial minerals. Over the past 20+ years he has helped diverse organizations such as GE Medical, Sun Media and Microsoft adapt to and align with shifting stakeholder requirements. In his capacity as Manager of major accounts with Absorbent Products Barry works with a broad spectrum of stakeholders - including regulators, retail consumers, organic producers and big-box retailers - each of whom utilize diatomaceous earth (DE) in different ways.

Chantal Schauch
Chantal Schauch Chantal Schauch is a social entrepreneur, community leader, and brand consultant focused on advising leaders of mission-driven businesses and non-profit organizations across North America. As a senior strategist with Junxion, an international consultancy, Chantal has been engaged by a diverse list of game changers, such as Mountain Equipment Co-op, 1% for the Planet, ACT Foundation, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Chantal co-founded and managed the first community and crowdfunding platform for charity climbs and adventures, and coached campaign leaders worldwide on running successful charity adventure campaigns. She's been actively involved in the crowdfunding space since, facilitating crowdfunding workshops and co-organizing the Vancouver stop of the 2014 Equity Crowdfunding Conference. She holds a Master of Arts in Professional Communication, a Bachelor of Commerce in International Business, and a Marketing Management Certificate in Public Relations.

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. Now finishing their eighth season of farming, Chris and his family have learned some of the challenges and opportunities of farming on a small scale in the organic sector. They operate a 135-member Community Shared Agriculture program and sell at two weekly farmers markets during the farming seasons. Prior to farming Chris earned a PhD in Communication from Carleton University. His academic interests continue through teaching and writing. Chris teaches the goat husbandry and business planning components of Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Richmond Farm School. Chris sits on the board of the Certified Organic Associations of BC. Contact: 604-897-1111

Corey Brown
Corey Brown Although he's not particularly professional, Corey has been allowed to work with SOOPA, the COABC and the Penticton Farmers Market. When not writing verbose and/or asinine emails, he tends a small farm in Caswton.

Darcy Goodrich
Darcy Goodrich I was born and raised on a mixed small farm in east-central Alberta. After my wife, Candace, and I took over the farm from my parents, we began to transition into natural food production: direct marketing grass finished beef, pastured pork, poultry and eggs to families. I am very passionate about farming and food being well beyond organic, produced in systems that embrace all aspects of our natural world. We now farm with three of our four children in southern British Columbia using Holistic Management, permaculture, and agroforestry as our guiding principles to build healthier soil, food, and families.

Dawn Morrison
Dawn Morrison Dawn's Secwepemc heritage along with her technical and practical background in horticulture, ethnobotany, and Indigenous community development has led to her lifetime passion of health and healing in the context of Indigenous food sovereignty and eco-cultural restoration. Dawn currently works as a Research Associate with the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Southwest BC Bioregional Food Systems Design and Planning Project (leading Indigenous Community Engagement). Dawn is the founder and Chair for the BC Food Systems Network Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty and works as a leader and/or associate on various other Indigenous land, culture or ecology related projects. Dawn is a published author and has travelled extensively to learn, share, coordinate and facilitate food sovereignty related discussions, forums, conferences and research projects in Indigenous communities in BC and beyond

Doug & Anna Helmer
Doug & Anna Helmer The Helmer family has been farming off and on in Pemberton for generations, and Doug's grandfather produced the first seed potatoes in what is now the valley's main industry. Doug and Jeanette raised the family in Vancouver and began bringing their three young girls up to the then vacant land every weekend in the early 80's. Jeanette recognized the potential of the place from the first time she pulled her Pemberton carrots and understood that people would pay good money for tasty vegetables grown in good soil. Doug focussed on clearing the land and preparing to grow potatoes organically and the early crops coincided with the opening of the Vancouver markets. In the ensuing years, the adult daughters have returned to the farm to augment the work of their parents and today the farm provides a viable, growing and entertaining living for the family.

Gunta Vitins BSc (agr), B.Ed, MBA
Gunta Vitins

Gunta Vitins has been spearheading innovative agri-food initiatives in the public and private sectors for over 25 years, focusing on the organic industry for the past two decades. Her work experience spans government, academia, international business and trade, agricultural production, processing, distribution, sales and marketing. From 1998 - 2010, Gunta held progressively responsible positions at Pro Organics, Canada's leading distributor of organic produce, and SunOpta, the world's largest organic ingredient supplier. She served as VP Marketing for Pro Organics from 2004 - 2010 and held the dual position of Director of Public Relations for SunOpta from 2007 - 2010. Gunta currently runs a consulting business as an agriculture and food specialist, and is a member of the Resilient Solutions Consulting team.

Gunta's experience in the agri-food sector also includes various national and international speaking engagements and active roles on Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada's Organic Value Chain Roundtable as Industry Co-Chair, and Chair of the Market Development Working Group, and as well as her past role as president of the Canada Organic Trade Association. Gunta was also founding director and past president of the Pacific Agricultural Certification Society, BC's first and largest ISO 65 compliant organic certification agency.

Gunta received the Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia's Founders Award in 2005 and the Canadian Health Food Association's Organic Achievement Award in 2007 in recognition of her dedication to the Canadian organic sector.

James Calissi
James Calissi James Calissi has worked in a professional capacity in the British Columbia tree fruit industry for over 25 years. He holds a M.Sc. (Agricultural Economics) and a B.Sc. (agriculture) from UBC. He is a member of the BC Institute of Agrologists and is a Professional Agrologist (P.Ag) He has worked in a range of functions including advising growers on horticultural technology, as well as the development of policies that improved the BC tree fruit industry to become a world leader in high density plantings and new varieties. In addition, James is a primary producer, farming cherries vegetables and nursery stock.

Joao Costa, Agro Eng., MSc.
Joao Costa Joao Costa is a PhD student in Animal Science in the Animal Welfare program at the University of British Columbia. He is from Brasil where he received his Agricultural Engineer and MSc degrees from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in 2009 and 2012 respectively. He worked on many projects with agroecological production of milk in close relation with many organic dairies, which increased his interest in research of new practices that aim to improve the life of farm animals in these environments. The primary focus of his research is on factors that influence the solid feed intake of dairy calves, and their behavioural and physiological responses to various management practices and rearing systems.

John Church
John Church Dr. John Church is currently an Associate Professor in Natural Resource Science at Thompson Rivers University as well as the BC Regional Innovation Chair in Cattle Industry Sustainability. John initially started Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch in 1997, a large bison, elk and cattle operation east of the Rockies just southwest of Calgary, owned by Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch was developed to provide resort customers with high quality beef and bison products, produced in a natural, humane and sustainable manner. In addition to practical and direct livestock experience, John served for eight years as the Alberta provincial government animal welfare specialist prior to joining Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. Dr. Church earned his PhD in Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science from the University of Alberta in 1997, studying the effects of production practices on the behavior and management of bison, elk and cattle on farms. He holds an M. Sc in Biology from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia (1993), and a B. Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Alberta (1991). In July 2008, John accepted the new position as the BC Regional Innovation Chair in Cattle Industry Sustainability at Thompson Rivers University. The Chair now leads a multidisciplinary research team dedicated to the exploration and invention of innovative practices and technologies leading to the sustainability and enhancement of the cattle industry, rangelands, and meat production and related products. The scope of the research program encompasses production of the grazing animals through to harvesting, raw and value added meat products, and the preservation of the natural resources on which these industries depend. The focus of Dr. Church’s research program is on new emerging opportunities for beef producers in the areas of value-added and branded meat production, which includes human and environmental health.

Linda Edwards
Linda Edwards Linda established and operated a tree fruit consulting and research company in the Okanagan and Similkameen for 15 years. She has been an organic orchardist in the Similkamen since 1990 with her partner, Brian Mennell. Linda is also the author of the "Organic Tree Fruit Management" book.

Mel Sylvestre
Mel Sylvestre Mel Sylvestre has been a small-scale organic farmer for 12 years and is currently working at UBC Farm as the Perennial and Biodiversity Coordinator. In recent years, she has been focusing on developing her skills as a seed saver in order to bulk up seed production in BC. Her most recent project has been to develop an integrated seed production system adapted to UBC Farm. She is involved with BC seeds as well as the newly created BC Eco Seed Co-op (seed grower's co-op). She mentors and teaches several students and new farmers every year in the hopes of building a strong BC seed system.

Molly Thurston
Molly Thurston Molly Thurston received her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph. Since 2005, Molly has been employed by the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative as a Horticulturist, providing extension services to tree fruit growers in the Kelowna area. In 2013, Molly completed a Master’s degree in Soil Microbiology at UBC- Okanagan. Molly is a professional Agrologist and co-owner of Claremont Ranch Organics, a 102 year old orchard located in Lake Country, BC. Claremont Ranch Organics grows several varieties of pears, peaches, apricots, plums and approximately 30 varieties of heritage apples.

Paige Dampier
Paige Dampier Paige Dampier is a farmer and vendor at the Langley Farmers' Market. She and her husband, Chris, run a family farming business called Close to Home Organics. Their business plan includes selling at two farmers markets as well as running a CSA program. They are fortunate to be shareholders and farmers at Glen Valley Organic Farm, a co-operatively owned farm in the Fraser Valley.

Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly Paul Kelly is a biofuel producer and hobby farmer in the Slocan Valley of the West Kootenays. A "food system generalist" his experience includes organic grocery retail management and marketing, restaurant management, commercial transport, foodservice organics recovery, and most recently he coordinated production at Fieldstone Organic Granary, where he learned a great deal regarding grain handling, grading, cleaning, crop planning, and bulk grain transport logistics. Paul also holds a degree in Small Business and Entrepreneurship from Mt. Royal University in Calgary.

Richard Enns
Richard Enns Richard Enns lives in Coldstream British Columbia. He was called the B.C. Bar in 1989 after graduating from the University of Victoria in 1988. Richard practices law in the areas of business law, estate planning and real estate law. Richard and his wife Anita Fletcher own and operate a high density organic apple orchard in Coldstream. Richard is currently serving his third term on Coldstream Council. Richard has worked with a variety of agricultural producers, business owners and entrepreneurs in the North Okanagan on a wide range of matters including ownership transfers of farms and businesses, financing and the use, leasing and sale of land. In addition to working with individuals and their businesses, Richard has represented Farm Credit Canada, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Valley First Credit Union.

Rochelle Eisen
Rochelle Eisen Rochelle Eisen is an assurance (verification, certification and standards) junkie, working in organics for over 20 years as well as other certification systems as an inspector, a reviewer, a standards interpreter, an educator and a writer. Like Einstein, she believes "What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" and assurance programs are a means to level ecological playing fields.

Sara Dent
Sara Dent Sara is a project manager and fundraiser with a background in farming and permaculture education. She has worked for over a dozen years in the non-profit sector for arts, youth and social change organizations. Her foray into farming began as a wwoofer in 2006, and in 2008 she studied organic small-scale farming and permaculture design at Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island. Since she has worked on a number of different farms from BC to Mexico. She is currently on farm rest in Vancouver and satisfying her farm itch by coordinating/producing Young Agrarians (, inspired by The Greenhorns movement in the U.S. She enjoys her community garden plot and is looking forward to growing much more food, and supporting food growers- long into the future. Visit her farm adventures at:

Sonny McHalsie
Sonny McHalsie Dr. Naxaxalhts'i is the Cultural Advisor/Historian of the Stó:lõ Research and Resource Management Centre. Naxaxalhts'i has worked for the Stó:lõ as a researcher in cultural heritage and aboriginal rights and title issues since 1985. He currently acts as the cultural advisor on the Treaty Negotiation Team for the Stó:lõ Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association. As Cultural Advisor he ensures the accurate and respectful interpretation of Stó:lõ culture and history. He was a co-author of the book I Am Stó:lõ: Katherine Explores Her Heritage (1997) - focusing on his family and his daughter. He contributed to and served on the editorial board of the award winning publication A Stó:lõCoast Salish Historical Atlas (2001). He was also the author of We Have To Take Care OF Everything That Belongs To Us in Bruce Miller's Be OF Good Mind (2007). He also wrote the foreword in Keith Thor Carlson's The Power Of Place, The Problem Of Time(2010). His areas of expertise include Halq'eméylem Place Names, Fishing, and Stó:lõ Oral History. He has also been featured in many television documentaries for the CBC, APTN and Omni. He is a member of the Shxw'ow'hamel First Nation, the proud father of two girls and six boys, and has six grandchildren. He continues to fish at his ancestral fishing ground at Aseláw in the Stó:lõ Five Fishery in the lower Fraser River canyon.

Steve Meggait
Steve Meggait Steve Meggait is the owner and operator of Fresh Valley Farms, located in Armstrong, BC. He’s a fourth generation farmer working two quarter-sections of mixed crop, pasture, and forest land. He currently breeds and finishes pigs, cattle, and broiler chickens, and produces much of the grains and peas used in his small scale feed mill. Steve is fairly new to farming, but has a background in construction and mechanical operations, so the construction of a fully automated electric feed mill from mostly salvaged equipment was an attainable, yet challenging endeavour. He will speak on his experience over the last few years in developing his feed mill and the challenges of procuring local and not so local ingredients to use in it.

Susan Cousineau
Susan Cousineau Growing up in the Central Interior/Omineca region of BC in the Robson Valley, on a 300-acre family farm and forest, Susan has long been interested in uniting human habitat, food security and natural ecology. This led her through university and then to permaculture, completing a Permaculture Design Certificate in Jordan in the fall of 2012. Her academic background includes a B.Sc. in ecology and M.Sc. in ecology and evolution, with research in Amazonian Peru, Kenya, the B.C.'s West Coast and Islands, and the Alberta Rockies.

Susan Davidson
Susan Davidson Susan Davidson, Fraser Common Farm Co-op resident and member of Glorious Organics Co-op in Aldergrove, has been an organic farmer since 1985 and an amateur gardener in her mother's tutelage since she could walk. She is an active participant of BCSeeds, a project of Farm Folk/City Folk, whose purpose is to "cultivate a local sustainable food system", a veteran vendor at the East Vancouver Farmers Market, and a co-founder of the Langley Community Farmers Market. She aspires to make conscious and conscientious choices to feed herself and others, and to live in ways that respect the earth, the farmers and the co-inhabitants of our beautiful, finite planet.

Susan Smith
Susan Smith

I have been a professional agrologist in British Columbia since 1994. I have worked for the BC Ministry of Agriculture as an industry specialist providing technical input and extension advice to the BC organic sector since 2004. In that capacity, I field many inquiries regarding the Canada Organic Standard, the Permitted Substances List and matters related to certification. I have served in an ex-officio capacity on the BC Organic Sector Development Program (OSDP) advisory committee, providing technical input into proposal review, workplan development and strategic planning. I am also a member of the Canadian Organic Extension Network.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and a Master’s in Soil Science from the University of British Columbia. My Master’s thesis was in soil chemistry, examining organic matter transformations of hog manure compost. I have managed hogs, dairy, poultry and sheep. I have also spent time coordinating farmland stewardship programs involving on-farm management practices such as covercropping, grassland setasides and hedgerow projects. Most recently I have spent the past 9 years in horticulture, working with field vegetable and organic sectors on issues of importance to support and enable sustainable growth and development in BC agriculture.

Tamara Richardson
Tamara Richardson

Tamara Richardson is the founder and principal investigator of Cornucopia Crop Consulting, a company specializing in pest control research, education, crop management and applications for the vegetable, tree fruit and wine grape industries. She has over ten years of experience developing and implementing pest management plans and research projects for greenhouses, conifer seed orchards, ground crops, tree fruit orchards and vineyards. Additionally she is involved with on-farm food safety, working both as an auditor and consultant.

Tamara has worked closely with the Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers Association in British Columbia to design and test post-harvest management strategies for Spotted Wing Drosophila and from 2011-2013 she was involved in an international research collaboration testing traps designed to improve early detection of this insect. Tamara does ongoing research work with British Columbia's New Varieties Development Council Organic Division (NVDC), as well as with Cawston Cold Storage (CCS), an independent organic packinghouse. She is currently developing strategies to manage rosy apple aphid and other pests in orchards. Most recently, she received funding for a two-year investigation into the viability of earwig populations serving as biological controls of aphids, leafroller, and budmoth in the organic orchards of Southern British Columbia. Tamara Richardson received a B.Sc. in Ecology and Environmental Science from UBC and a M.Sc. in Natural Resources and Environmental Science (Biology) from UNBC.

Todd Kabaluk
Todd Kabaluk Todd Kabaluk is a Research Biologist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Agassiz, BC. His research involves testing and developing microorganisms and biologically-based materials for their use as pest control products. He is currently working on attract and kill strategies for wireworms, using carbon dioxide and pheromone attractants together with insect pathogens targeting both the larvae and adults.

Tristan Cavers
Tristan Cavers Having grown up on land that his grandfather got in the Veterans Land Act, animals are a relatively new addition to his farm experience. With most of the farm being dedicated to row crops, figuring out a responsible and efficient way to manage a limited amount of pasture was a must. Three years of experimentation has led to a model of maximizing up to 3-acre pasture sizes.

Vanessa Perrodou
Vanessa Perrodou Vanessa Perrodou is the Farm to School BC Provincial Manager and balcony gardener. She has a grand vision of having every school in BC sourcing food from their local communities, and having that food be available to every student. By fostering experiential learning opportunities through Farm to School activities, Vanessa sees the potential to support the growth of a new generation of healthy, food literate learners.

Read BCOG Spring 2020