Board of Directors

The 2019-20 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 committee chairs, please see our Committees and Working Groups page.

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.

Rob Wallbridge - President & 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 is an elected member of the Organic Standards Interpretation Committee.

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.

Catriona Ffrench - Secretary & Director-at-Large

Catriona Ffrench is part owner of Cookstown Greens and as such is involved with the production, merchandising, and marketing aspects of the business. Cookstown grows, packages, and markets certified organic vegetables to retail stores. Through running store demos and farm tours, Catriona can see how much information there is about organic farming that is not understood by consumers. She believes more education is needed to promote local, organic produce, and supports OCO's efforts to encourage regulation of the use of the term, "organic" in Ontario.

Joel Aitken - Treasurer & Supporter Representative

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, and is a member of the board in the Supporter representing his consulting business, Local Food Finder.

Simon Jacques - Producer Representative & OFC Liaison

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.

Thomas Booijink - Producer Representative

Thomas currently farms with his wife Julia and 3 children Felicity (5) Thys (2) Heidi (3 months) and is the owner/operator of Jamink Farms. Together, they milk 85 cows and manage roughly 300 acres of tillable land. Hailing from Eastern Ontario, Thomas is an active community member, coaching local teams, volunteering for the fire department and participating in 4H. He is a well-known organic dairy producer, participating in the Stormont milk committee and the Organic Producer Advisory Committee of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. In joining the OCO board, Thomas hopes to 1) Increase organic production within Ontario and reduce out of province imports; 2) Improve government relations; and 3) Improve Organic integrity and consumer trust in the high standards of the Organic label.

Krysten Cooper, Value Chain Representative (certified)

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.

Jill Baxter - Value Chain Representative (certified)

Jill is the Commercial Director, Organics at Cambrian Solutions in Oakville, Ontario. Jill is a trusted adviser and active member of the organic industry in Canada working with Canadian food manufacturers to bring certified organic products to markets. Jill works closely with suppliers and sources on a global level ingredients from growers and processors, ensuring compliance to Canadian standards. Jill brings strong operational, strategic and business acumen knowledge. She has over 15 years experience with organic ingredients in Canada. Her top priorities are to increase acreage for organic growers, help enact Ontario organic regulations, and improve industry awareness at the consumer level.

Ruvena Buslovich - Value Chain Representative (Uncertified)

Ruvena is the Organic/Natural Foods Manager at Fiesta Farms in Toronto. Ruvena holds a MASc in Environmental Management focused on food security, with a background that ranges from Corporate Social Responsibility to food distribution and now consumer-focused food retail. Ruvena has experience in marketing, adhering to and shaping company policy, food trends, business challenges, and end-customer concerns. She is keen to address the accessibility of organic food (we all deserve to eat it) and ensuring that the value of organic food is understood by all. Her priorities for the organic sector include: 1) Consumer education/clarification of the Organic Standards and the reasons for organic pricing; 2) Ensuring that there is a communicable value of the Organic Logo and certification to the customer; 3) Strengthening the link between Organic production and climate change mitigation and communicating them to the public.

Ralf Thorsten Arnold - Director-at-Large

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. 

David Cohlmeyer - Director-at-Large

David is a strong supporter of exceptionally flavourful, consistently available, and nutrient dense foods which are most effectively provided by local organic growers. He has been a marketing and business consultant for organic producers for seven years, prior to which he spent 23 years as a successful mid-scale vegetable and greenhouse producer and marketer, seven years as a columnist for the Globe & Mail on alternative agriculture, and seven years as a chef. His decades of researching, experiencing, teaching, and leading have been recognized by a Governor General’s Award for Stewardship and Sustainability.

Norm Hansen - Director-at-Large

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.