PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR
ALBERTA REPRESENTATIVE AT FEDERAL LEVEL
Charles Newell was appointed to the Surface Rights and Land Compensation Boards on December 31st 2013. Charles is a rural Albertan with proven leadership skills and firsthand knowledge of issues related to energy, municipal development and agriculture in the province. During his 7 years of municipal government experience, Mr. Newell oversaw the planning, decision-making and funding for large capital projects. Charles is a lifelong farmer and an experienced Board member in the energy industry, serving on a rural electrification association as well as advising on the start-up of an independent power provider. He holds a diploma from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and has enhanced his education with numerous courses relevant to his industry and community service appointments.
VICE PRESIDENT & DIRECTOR
CENTRAL REGION REPRESENTATIVE
Dawn Boileau is a partner and co-owner with Kate Hook at Sunrise Gardens, a Certified Organic market garden and year-round producer of shoots and micro greens. Their 10 acre farm has been in production since 2004 and Certified Organic since 2007. They are located near the town of Onoway, 80 km northwest of Edmonton.
TREASURER & DIRECTOR
NORTHERN REGION REPRESENTATIVE
Heather is Mom to two sons and two daughters, and a Grandma to six. She and her husband, John, operate a family farm and grass/legume cleaning plant near Fairview, Ab with their oldest son and youngest daughter, making it a fourth generation farm. In 1982 they started their seed plant, Golden Acre Seeds. The plant has been certified organic since 2005 and their farm since 2010. They produce organic oats, wheat, barley, peas, alfalfa, and clovers. A few years ago they expanded the operation to include leafcutter bees to pollinate their alfalfa fields. Heather has 20 years of leadership experience with agricultural organizations, including serving as treasurer of the Peace Region Forage Seed Association and current President of Forage Seed Canada, a national forage seed producer board representing all forage seed producers in Canada.
SECRETARY & DIRECTOR
SOUTHERN REGION REPRESENTATIVE
Andrew is an organic farmer growing field and greenhouse vegetables, cover crops and cereals near Coaldale, Alberta. His passion lies in regenerative agriculture with the intent of having the farm produce healthy food while improving the soil and the farms ecosystem as a whole. He feels that the regenerative approach to farming is sustainable, profitable and enjoyable.
NORTHERN REGION REPRESENTATIVE
James has been farming with his dad, Henry Thiessen in the Tomkins area for thirty years. They started with all crown land and cleared all of the 1000 acres that they now farm, and have 800 acres to go. They certified organic around 1988, long before organic was popular, with a small producer funded certifying body called Peace River Organic Producers Association. They are now in hemp seed production and oats. James is the local farm representative for Hemp Production Services, a buyer for hemp seed.
Abbie has a B. Sc. in Biological Sciences and a B.A. (Honours) in Linguistics from the University of Alberta. Her interests include cooking, gardening, knitting, travelling, reading, writing and playing sports. Abbie is passionate about food in Alberta, finding herself involved in many levels of Edmonton’s food scene. She has participated in several market development Alberta Agriculture Initiatives, has been the point of contact for new producer-retailer relationships, and has worked with small producers on getting their products market-ready. She oversaw a market strategy analysis with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development in 2013, which found that distribution and logistics are key pieces to the order fulfilment process which continue to pose the greatest challenge for small producers. In 2015, Abbie worked with Gordon Food Services in Edmonton to launch ‘Local Made Easy’, a catalogue of Alberta organic produce for food service buyers across Edmonton and Northern Alberta. Working at the Organic Box since 2011, Abbie has had various roles, including General Manager since 2013. Her tenacity and varied skillset have allowed her to excel in many facets of work, from HR to project management. She has excellent written and verbal communication skills and is first and foremost a team player.
Tracy grew up on her family’s hay and cattle farm 30 minutes east of Edmonton. They have never used chemicals or sprays on their land. When she was in her twenties, she helped to start and run an organic food buying cooperative in Edmonton, Simplefoods, which operated for around two years. She served on the Organic Alberta board in 2004-2005, in the early days, back when it was called the Going Organic Network of Alberta. It was an eye-opening opportunity and she hopes to bring a lot more experience to the board this time around! Tracy started her company, Beanstalk Honey, in 2010. She is a self-sufficient beekeeper and produces honey without using antibiotics or chemicals. It is very close to impossible to get organic certification status as a beekeeper, but she’s still working on it! She sells her honey at farmer’s markets in the Edmonton area. Tracy looks forward to serving on the Organic Alberta board and learning more about organic agriculture in our province.
Arnold Van Os
CENTRAL REGION REPRESENTATIVE
Arnold is married to Jeannette and they have 9 kids and 4 grand kids. They farm near Wetaskiwin on a dairy farm milking 130 cows and started transitioning to organics in 2005. Arnold has served on the AB Milk board for 8 years and is currently still a delegate. In that capacity he has lobbied the government on several occasions. He is also serving as an elder in Lighthouse Fellowship and chairs the Wetaskiwin Christian School Society. His passion is to grow the organic industry.
Bernie and his wife Kary have been married for 34 years. They have 2 adult children: Christopher (and his wife Heather and their 2 sons, Rhett and Evan) and daughter Ashton. They farm just south of Etzikom, about an hour SW of Medicine Hat. Bernie has been farming organically for 27 years, raising mostly fall Rye, spring wheat, Durum, peas and Red Fife wheat. Bernie also had an opportunity to raise organic cattle for a few years. From 1996 to 2016, he operated an on-farm organic seed cleaning operation. He was a director for BFPA from 2001 to 2004, also a director for Go Organic from 2006 to 2008. Most recently, he has completed the organic inspector training course and has been hired to do organic inspections for Global Organic Alliance.
Frank has been farming his entire life, working as part of the family farm since leaving high school. The farm, established in 1912, has gone through many phases over time. Homestead, mixed farm, primarily a dairy farm for many years, and in this newest incarnation, an organic mixed farm with an emphasis on direct marketing of protein: eggs, chicken and turkeys, pork and beef. Cereals and forages round out the cropping side. Recent interests beyond organics include building into rotational grazing, cover cropping, and the management and development of wetlands and wild areas both for environmental sustainability and recreation. Frank looks forward to having organics regain its place as “conventional ag” as it always should have been.
Becky Lipton has been working with the organic industry in Alberta since 2008. Originally brought on as a consultant for the Alberta Organic Harmonization Project, she is now the Executive Director of Organic Alberta. Becky brings her experience in strategic planning, fundraising, community engagement, organizational and industry development, project management, program development, coordination and evaluation and communications to the position. Becky has a Masters’ degree (women and agriculture), a graduate diploma in Environmental Education and a BA in Environment and Development. Becky has experience in organic vegetable farming, and past work experience includes working with a rural research group, providing business and leadership development training for farmers’ markets’ vendors and board of directors, founding an agricultural apprenticeship program, providing research on local food, food security, supply chains and sustainable agriculture for municipal and provincial governments, and providing agricultural education to youth at risk.
Since joining Organic Alberta, Becky has taken the organization from a budget of $50k to $1 million, and has led the visioning, fundraising and implementation of a number of programs including the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative – a 4 year, $2.2 million, prairie wide project aimed at increasing the stability and resiliency of the organic grain sector. Becky is also a founder, current board member and on the fundraising team of the Prairie Organic Development Fund and has sat on the steering committee of the Organic Value Chain Round Table since 2015.
Becky is a high energy person who is full of determination and passion for a form of agriculture that she believes has the potential to transform and cultivate a healthy food system – a system that is sustainable for our farmers, our eaters, and everyone in between.
PRAIRIE ORGANIC GRAIN INITIATIVE OPTIMIZATION STREAM COORDINATOR
Iris is very excited to be joining the team at Organic Alberta and jumping into the world of organic agriculture. While completing an Ecology degree at the University of Toronto, she became very interested in agroecosystems. She spent a summer at the OACC in Truro, Nova Scotia getting introduced to the world of organic agriculture before travelling to the University of Manitoba to do her Masters degree with Dr. Martin Entz, studying reducing tillage in organic systems. After finishing her masters, she continued working with Dr. Entz on the organic wheat and oat breeding programs and the participatory plant breeding program. She also worked with Dr. Yvonne Lawley, also at the U of M, on both conventional and organic agronomy research, working with a range of crops.
ADMINISTRATION AND BOOKKEEPING ASSISTANT
Leslie Rasmuson is a graduate from the University of Lethbridge with a bachelor’s degree in management, an accounting diploma from NAIT, and a Horticulturist I, II, & III certificate from the University of Guelph. At a young age she developed a passion for gardening, everything from vegetables, flowers and shrubs to houseplants. Now, in the summers she and her husband enjoy spending time at their off the grid trailer planning and caring for their different gardens. She is new to the organic industry and is excited to learn and contribute to the growth of this industry.
PROGRAM AND COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
Tierra is a recent graduate of Mount Allison University with a degree in Honours Philosophy, Politics, & Economics, Politics Emphasis. Previously a summer student, Tierra is excited to return to Organic Alberta and bring what she has learned from her time with Food Secure Canada and Mount Allison University to the table. She is looking forward to rejoining the team and learning more about sustainable agriculture and food systems!
AGRONOMIST CONSULTANT FOR THE MACKENZIE COUNTY ORGANIC SUCCESS PROGRAM
Julie is originally from rural Quebec, where she was born and raised on a dairy farm. She has been living in Western Canada for over 30 years, spending time in the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and Alberta. She is a mother of two adult children and a young grandmother to an active 4-year-old girl. Julie obtained her B. Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan in 1999 and has worked in agricultural research ever since. Prior to joining the team, Julie worked as a Research Technician in Crop Development and Management with the Alberta Research Council/Alberta Innovates Technology Futures/InnoTech Alberta in Vegreville for almost 19 years. For the past 3 years, Julie has focused her interest in organic agriculture, acquiring knowledge, training and getting involved with Prairie Organic Grain Initiative through its Organic Agronomy training Program and Nutrient Management Program. Julie believes that organic farm prosperity is greatly linked to soil health. She is passionate about agriculture and the production of good quality and healthy food through organic practices.
EVENT AND CONFERENCE COORDINATOR
Sarah grew up gardening and has a passion for all things related to food and sustainable agriculture. She has spent time working with, and learning from, farms and agrarian organizations. In 2014 she started a market garden and small beekeeping operation called Bumble Beets Farm. Currently, she is studying for a certificate in food security and working towards her degree in Global and Development Studies at the U of A, Augustana campus. She is very excited to be working with Organic Alberta this Summer.
YOUNG AGRARIANS PRAIRIE PROGRAM MANAGER
Dana strives to support inspired thinking and action in agriculture and rural communities. By thinking broadly and deeply about the systems upon which our society depends, Dana sees us better positioning the industry and our communities for the future. Dana’s work with the University of Alberta’s There’s a Heifer in Your Tank and with Leadership Edmonton has been foundational in developing her passion for creating resourceful, resilient, responsible and adaptive people. Dana’s formal education was in Animal Science, earning a B. Sc. from the U of A but her much-valued informal learning came from hanging out in chicken barns, working with horses and teaching kids (and teachers, parents, etc.) about agriculture. Her and her partner also run C & E Meats at Lacombe, Alberta. They believe that grazing livestock and poultry can heal our planet.
YOUNG AGRARIANS CENTRAL ALBERTA COORDINATOR
Erika grew up on her family farm where she was instilled with the value of knowing where her food comes from and how it is raised. This built her passion for rural communities and conserving and growing a knowledge of farming in Alberta. She recently complete a Masters in Culture, Environment, and Sustainability from the University of Oslo where she focused on the motivations of beef farmers in Alberta who use Management-Intensive Grazing Practices. In the winter, she spends time cross-country skiing and moving swath grazing on the family farm, while in the summer she looks forward to helping to organize and attend farm tours and potlucks with the Young Agrarians across central Alberta.
YOUNG AGRARIANS APPRENTICESHIP COORDINATOR
Kolby is passionate about helping shape and rebuild responsible connections with the land, and regenerating our soils and communities through ecological agriculture. One of the ways she enjoys seeing this happen is by showcasing the bounties that come from regenerative farms – bounty in the form of knowledge, nutritionally dense food, and beauty. She loves to cook meals with ingredients grown on her farm or by neighbours and friends, and given the chance, will proceed to tell you about each one (ingredients and farmers, that is). Kolby has found much fulfillment in applying her B.Sc. in Environmental Science to her work within rural extension, in supporting new and aspiring farmers through the Young Agrarians program, and in farming using nature as inspiration. Currently, Kolby is farming intergenerationally in the Peace Country, using (real) Percheron horse-power wherever possible, and endeavouring to co-create a co-operative farm.