Board of Directors

The 2016-17 Board of Directors

OCO's board drives the Ontario Organic Strategic Plan, providing oversight and direction to OCO staff.  The board is elected by OCO members, with each board member representing a different part of the organic sector (certifiers, researchers, producers, associations, etc.). 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. The board is composed of committees that members are also welcome to join.

For a list of committee chairs, please see our Committees and Working Groups page.

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

Tom Manley - President, Chair, and Processor Representative

Tom Manley is the owner of Homestead Organics – Ontario’s leading organic grain processor and farm supply business – and is a recipient of OCO’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. Tom was the lead organizer for Eco Farm Day, an annual organic farm conference in Cornwall for about 14 years, and was the chair of the community advisory council of Alfred College.

Bill Redelmeier - Vice-President & Producer Representative

Bill is the founder of Southbrook Vineyards, and has been a proud farmer all his life. Southbrook has been certified organic since 2008 and has been leading the push towards quality organic and biodynamic wine since that time. Southbrook’s particular aim has been to grow the organic wine sector.

John Devlin - Treasurer & Director-at-Large

John Devlin is an Associate Professor in the Rural Planning and Development Program at the University of Guelph where he teaches planning theory, development administration, and project design. His primary areas of academic interest include: agricultural policy, environmental policy, and public participation in environmental assessment. He is co-chair of the Public Participation Section of the International Association for Impact Assessment.  A long-time promoter of organic agriculture, he has co-edited a book, Ecological Agriculture in Eastern and Southern Africa, and has authored numerous articles and conference presentations on environment and development issues. He is particularly interested in mobilizing consumer advocates for the organic food system.

Lauren Stallard - Secretary & Director-at-Large (Social Marketing and Education)

Lauren has worked in community engagement, customer service, organic sales and education for almost ten years.  She has a passion for the environment and health and has been connected to the Organic Council for many years.  Lauren is currently attending Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning for Marketing, with a research focus on the marketing of organic products.

Joel Aitken - Certifier Representative, Ecocert Canada

Joel is an Organic Certification Officer with Ecocert Canada, has a degree in Agriculture Science, and a Master in Capacity Development and Extension from the University of Guelph. He has been working in the organic sector as a researcher, inspector, certification officer and consultant for the last eight years.

Ralf Thorsten Arnold - Distributor Representative

With his wife Kristine, Thorsten has owned Persephone Market Garden since 2009. Since 2016, he has also been managing the Eat Local Grey Bruce Co-operative, an emerging food distribution co-operative that sells local food, supplemented with non-local, organic products. He was involved in this initiative from the start as lead consultant for the business plan. Thorsten holds a PhD in Agriculture.

Sarah Bakker - NGO Representative (NFU-O)

Sarah Bakker and her family run Field Sparrow Farms, where they raise pastured poultry, pork, and grass-finished beef on their 100-acre farm in Bobcaygeon. They market their products directly to the consumer at farmers’ markets and wholesale through co-ops. Sarah is also the General Manager of the National Farmers Union – Ontario. She hopes that her experience will bring increased awareness of organic across sectors and commodity groups. She brings an understanding of challenges in organic certification for the small farmer and an interest in developing policy. Previously, she sat on the boards of the Lindsay Horticultural Society and the West End Food Co-op.

Mary Wales - Director-at-Large (Communications)

Mary is a writer and marketing consultant who has worked in communications roles for the Organic Council of Ontario and other agricultural organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,  in the past. She has a strong understanding of agricultural issues, both from growing up on a farm and through her education and career. She has completed an IOIA organic crop inspection course.

Simon Jacques, Director-at-Large

Simon is an Inspector and Input Review Officer for EcoCert Canada. He also farms 120 acres of organic field crops, and owns an organic mushroom compost business. Simon is deeply knowledgeable of Canada’s Organic Standards, and has a particular interest in the Organic Standards as they relate to crop inputs. He has participated in the OFC’s recent Standards Review Process in the “Permitted Substances List; Crops” working group, with the aim of making the Canadian Organic Standards more sustainable.

Rob Wallbridge - Director-at-Large

Rob is the Organic Specialist for Thompsons Limited and a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA-ON). Prior to that he operated a mixed farm, selling certified organic vegetables to consumers, retailers, and chefs in the Ottawa area, and worked as a consultant in the organic sector, including over 13 years on the Member Relations Team of the Organic Meadow Co-operative, providing extension services to organic and transitional-organic farmers across Ontario. He is an IOIA-trained organic inspector, has volunteered on the Livestock Working Group of the CGSB Technical Committee on Organic Standards since 2008, sits on the Organic Value Chain Round Table, and was recently elected to the Organic Standards Interpretation Committee.