Board of Directors

The 2018-19 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 & Value Chain Representative (certified)

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.

Sarah Grant - Secretary & 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Catriona Ffrench, 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.