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 Value Chain Representative (Certified)
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.
Sarah Bakker - Vice-President & Supporter Representative
Sarah Bakker and her family run Field Sparrow Farms, where they raise pastured poultry, pork, and grass-finished beef on a 100-acre farm in Bobcaygeon. As such, Sarah also represents non-certified (ecological) producers on the OCO board. 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 - Secretary & Director-at-Large
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.
Bill Redelmeier - 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.
Joel Aitken - Director-at-Large
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 - Value Chain Representative
With his wife Kristine, Thorsten has owned Persephone Market Garden since 2009. Since 2015, he participated in building food distribution co-operative Eat Local Grey Bruce, an emerging food distribution co-operative that sells local food, supplemented with non-local, organic products. His roles have included business planning, general manager, and now planning expansion scenarios. Thorsten holds a PhD in Agriculture. Thorsten also represents non-certified (ecological) producers on the OCO board.
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.
Sarah Grant - Director-at-Large
Sarah Grant has worked with organic and non-organic farmers and processors across Canada and in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Africa she worked with Organic crop exporters, to help them increase access to markets and improve the efficiency of their internal operations. In Canada, she's the Director of Partnerships with Localize, a food company that works with food retailers, producers and processors to help consumers better understand the story behind their food. She hopes her experiences can be used to help improve OCO's membership process, develop an online directory and generally develop a more data driven approach for the benefit of members, the organic sector in Ontario as well as enhance OCO's ability to support the sector.
Roman Plawiuk - Value Chain Representative (Certified)
Roman Plawiuk is Owner & Operator of Huron Sun Foods. He is a producer and distributor of certified organic sunflower oil based in Barrie, Ontario. He has a background in business development, product management and marketing. Roman believes in the importance of growing organic foods in Ontario and encouraging food producers to incorporate locally grown organic ingredients.
Andrew St. Jean - Producer Representative
Andrew's family farm has been certified organic since 1999. He recently took over farming it himself in 2013 and has been slowly expanding his land base by renting and transitioning additional land. It is a mixed farm with a small cow/calf herd and cash cropping opration. Andrew grew up working for a large organic cash crop farmer where he learned much of what he knows today about organic agriculture. This has led him to pursue a career in organics, and he now manages the Organic business unit for Beechwood Agri Services, in addition to farming.