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.
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.
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.
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 is a first-generation farmer and until recently focused on her career in Natural Resources working as a spatial modeller and analyst. She has a Bachelor of Science in Geography and is highly focused, detailed oriented and organized. In 2016, her and her husband along with their two young kids bought a farm and started Stonepost Farms. The farm quickly evolved into a direct marketing business focusing on providing nutrient dense foods including pasture raised meats, naturally grown produce, free range eggs and unpasteurized honey. The farm focuses on holistic and regenerative agriculture practices. Becky has a newfound passion in agriculture with a desire to promote education in regenerative agriculture. She now focuses fully on the farm and its direct marketing business. She looks forward to being able to apply her skills with Organic Alberta and to gain knowledge.
SOUTH REGION REPRESENTATIVE
Kirk lives and farms in the Jenner, AB area. He started farming in 2007 when he rented a neighbour’s farm. He transitioned to organic over the first 3 years and has been certified since. Kirk’s Father certified his farm in about 2000. Kirk and his Father work together on their farms, sharing equipment and labour. Together they farm about 2500 organic acres. Kirk mainly grows cereals but tries other things from time to time.
CENTRAL REGION REPRESENTATIVE
Cathy and her husband Tylor farm in the Redwater area with their two growing farm boys, Dylan and Tyson, who are the 5th generation on the homestead est. 1905. Cathy was raised on the farm, and ‘hobby farmed’ with her dad while working as a 3rd Class Power Engineer for many years until in 2015 when her job changed to the BEST job ever; full time wife, mother and organic farmer. The Halonen’s produce nutrient rich organic soil, and as a by-product, grow certified organic grains including wheat, barley and oats, as well as organic alfalfa and clover for plowdown and feed. They also raise and finish their recently certified organic black Angus and organic Wagyu beef which is marketed direct to consumers. Cathy currently sits as the president of the Alberta Organic Producers Association and over the years has had various roles within local Ag board and 4-H clubs.
Marilynn has been involved with the agri-food industry for many years. Her career has encompassed 34 years of working for the Alberta government in various roles with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and Alberta Employment and Immigration. During her years with the Alberta government, she developed many programs and services for the industry and was a strong advocate for agriculture and food, including the rapidly growing organic sector. Marilynn was also President of the Alberta Food Processors Association for four years. She is very pleased to be working with and supporting the organic industry in Alberta.
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.
COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR / ADMINISTRATION AND BOOKKEEPING ASSISTANT
Cari is a graduate of MacEwan University with a degree in communications. She has discovered a great passion for the organic industry and is thrilled to contribute her skills to such a wonderful and welcoming community that is making an important difference in the world. The past three years she has spent with the organization has taught her invaluable lessons about community, our food system, and the people who strive to make it sustainable for us all. In addition to her work as Communications Coordinator, Cari has recently taken on the new role of Administration and Bookkeeping with Organic Alberta.
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
For many years, Lindsey has been interested in nutrition, the food industry and how food affects our bodies. More recently, she has become very passionate about the concept of sustainable agriculture. This is why she is thrilled to be a part of Organic Alberta alongside an inspiring team who is making such a difference in the community by leading the organic industry towards success. She is very much looking forward to learning as much as possible from the diverse individuals in the organic industry.
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 ALBERTA PROGRAM 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.
YOUNG AGRARIANS ALBERTA PEACE REGION COORDINATOR
Lilli Klamke’s passion for farm started while working on an orchard in 2009 in her home country Germany. During a work and travel year in New Zealand, she got a greater picture of organic farming, gardening and discovered the joy that lies in working with livestock. Throughout the studies on her B.Sc. in Agriculture she decided it would be time for an overseas experience again, soon enough she found herself working all summer at an organic farm in northern Alberta. After accomplishing her agricultural degree she returned back to Canada in October 2014. Back in the Peace Country Lilli works and lives on a mixed farm that evolves around organic seed and leaf cutter bee- production, raising grass- fed and finished beef and lamb as well as pasture- raised pork.
YOUNG AGRARIANS CENTRAL ALBERTA COORDINATOR
Alex first forayed into agriculture when she joined (as a favour for a friend) the community garden club at the University of Calgary. The magical interplay of delicious vegetables, engaged community, and beautiful plants quickly wooed her into delving deeper into the world of growing food. Since then she’s volunteered at and toured numerous farms and continued to learn about the incredible networks of organisms that sustain us. Last summer she apprenticed with the Young Agrarians program at a mixed farm and has found a passion for small-scale dairy and cheese making. As part of the YA team, Alex is excited to help aspiring farmers find their passions and to support them as they embrace all the struggles and joys of farming.