Board of Directors

The 2020-21 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 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.

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.

Norm Hansen - Producer Representative

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.

Justin Bell - Producer Representative

Justin Bell is an organic grain and dairy farmer with a day job in agricultural finance. He grows corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum and hay on a 200 acre farm near Peterborough and in the fall of 2019 he started milking 40 Holstein and Brown Swiss cows through a new entrant program. Justin graduated from University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus in 2015 where he studied Agriculture, focusing on business. He also works with his grandparents to farm 200 acres near Chatham where he is the 5th generation to grow corn, soybeans and wheat on the family farm. 

Ben Cullen - Value-Chain Representative (Certified)

Ben Cullen is the Founder of Cullen’s Foods, an organic food company that promotes Canadian organics by working directly with Canadian farmers and offering full traceability from the consumer to the farm. Ben shares a weekly column in the Toronto Star with his dad Mark Cullen, where they write about a range of environmental topics from gardening to agriculture, and recently co-authored a book together, Escape to Reality: how the world is changing gardening, and gardening is changing the world. Ben holds a Diploma in Agriculture from the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus and a Bachelor of Commerce from Dalhousie University. Ben believes in the potential of organic agriculture to address the dual climate and biodiversity crises while feeding the world, and that the Organic Council of Ontario plays an integral role in realizing that potential.

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.

Ruth Knight - Supporter

Ruth 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. Her current board appointments include; Agricultural Adaptation Council and Maitland Conservation Foundation. Past board activities include Ecological Farmers Association, several community organizations and a member based beef feeder finance club.

My objective in participating as a board member with Organic Council of Ontario is to support the development and recognition of an Ontario organic certification as well as build the capacity of Ontario farmers and eaters to create profitable, productive and regenerative farming systems.

Krysten Cooper - Director-at-Large

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 - 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.

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

Simon Jacques - Director-at-Large & 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.

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.