2024 Guelph Organic Conference Recordings

Whether you missed the event or want to revisit your favourite speakers, access the 2024 Guelph Organic Conference session recordings, focusing on the theme “Bring Organic Home: Cultivating Community in a Changing Climate.” These expert lead sessions will give you valuable insights into navigating business in a shifting climate and recommitting to organic principles and local connections.

For a snapshot of the topics covered this year check out the GOC 2024 Program here!  Learn more about each session and the speakers below.

Attendees get free access to recordings of the events they registered for. Email communications@organiccouncil.ca if you haven’t received access or need assistance. 

If you missed the conference, choose between purchasing: 

Friday and Saturday All-Inclusive Bundle

Friday All-Inclusive Bundle

Saturday All-Inclusive Bundle

– Individual Wednesday and Thursday Workshops Linked Below

Browse the full library of GOC Recordings for purchase here!

The 2024 Guelph Organic Conference’s keynote panel, “Organics in a Changing Climate: Cross-Country Perspectives,” brought together four expert speakers from across Canada to share their unique perspectives on our conference theme, “Bring Organic Home.”

Join Dr. Av Singh, Jean-Martin Fortier, and  Allison J. Squiresto be part of an inspiring discussion on vital topics impacting the organic sector and its future, including economic resilience, the fight against greenwashing, the state of imports, building the sector while preserving its roots, and the effects of the standardization of “regenerative agriculture.”

Dr. Av Singh is one of Canada’s leading authorities on organic agriculture. Dr. Singh has authored over 200 peer-reviewed papers, chapters, and extension articles and has been an invited speaker to over 500 workshops, conferences, and symposia as well as guest-lecturing at over 30 universities in Canada, the US, the UK, and India. Emphasizing a union of traditional knowledge with science, Av works with growers to cultivate an appreciation of plant:soil interrelationships.

Jean-Martin Fortier is a farmer, author, educator, and advocate for regenerative, human-scale, profitable agriculture. For over 20 years he and his wife Maude-Helene Desroches have operated les Jardins de la Grelinette, a successful 2-acre microfarm. His bestselling book The Market Gardener, which has sold a quarter million copies in nine languages, describes the biointensive principles used at his micro-farm. In 2015, he established a research farm, la Ferme des Quatre-Temps, where he trains apprentices and develops new strategies for market gardening, including year-round production. His methods of production are taught to a worldwide audience through the Market Gardener Masterclass, an online course of the Market Gardener Institute, which is tailored to small-scale food growers. He is the founder of Growers & Co., a tool and apparel company that celebrates sustainable, local, and equitable food producers. Jean-Martin farms and lives in Quebec, Canada.

Allison J. Squires is a researcher interested in promoting the organic industry, especially through on-farm research. She and her husband, Cody, have implemented several on-farm research projects at Upland Organics. She is also the President of the Canadian Organic Growers (COG) and in 2020 was also elected to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) North America board of Directors.

Managing Weeds with Smarts and Steel: Cultural and Mechanical Weeding with Successful Techniques and Tools for Market Gardeners and Farmers

From hand hoes to wheel hoes, two-wheel tractors to cultivating tractors – this full-day, hands-on workshop is brought to you by experienced vegetable farmer and machinery nut Reid Allaway and weed management specialist Sam Oschwald Tilton. The morning will focus on managing weeds through knowledge – by understanding weed life cycles, and judiciously choosing the timing and kinds of tillage, crop rotations, and cover crops – you can reduce your weed pressure over time. In the afternoon, Reid and Sam will dive into mechanical weeding tools of all kinds for all scales. The group will cover a range of row and bed spacing approaches, and a multitude of tools and explain how to match tools to crop, weed, and soil conditions.

Reid Allaway is an organic vegetable farmer, tool builder, and technical problem solver at Tourne-Sol co-operative farm in les Cèdres, QC. Tourne-Sol manages about 7.5 acres of vegetables and seed crops organically on 15 acres and produces 500 CSA shares weekly. In 20+ years as a CSA farmer, Reid has developed particular expertise in mechanical weed control, electric drivetrains for farm equipment, and cover crop management. In partnership with Thiessen Tillage Equipment Reid is currently working on next-generation mechanical weeding solutions for small and medium-scale organic farmers.

Sam Oschwald Tilton is a horticulture instructor at Lakeshore Technical College near Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He has a background in vegetable farming and a Master’s degree from Michigan State University with a focus on precision weeding tools. Sam has designed weeding machines for KULT-Kress and visited farms throughout Europe and the U.S., and he organizes the Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day.

Winter Market Gardening

Come hear from Jean-Martin Fortier and Catherine Sylvestre and celebrate the launch of their brand new book, The Winter Market Gardener thanks to our Platinum SponsorNew Society Publishers! Grab a copy of your own, meet the authors, and get your book signed by these two market gardening experts!

Ferme des Quatre-Temps in Hemmingford (Quebec) has been working to develop production methods to grow and sell vegetables 52 weeks per year in a northern climate. They can now say they achieved this goal in 2023! The aim of this workshop is to share the results of their trials and to teach the basics to get started with year-round production of diversified vegetables. Participants will leave with concrete practical information and technical guides to get started.

Topics discussed will include:

  • The 5 key principles of winter growing
  • Adapting to light availability
  • Crop planning for continuous harvest
  • Cold hardy crops, cold climate production techniques (disease, pests, irrigation, weeding, heating, etc.)
  • New developments in year-round farming and research projects.

Jean-Martin Fortier is a farmer, author, educator, and advocate for regenerative, human-scale, profitable agriculture. For over 20 years he and his wife Maude-Helene Desroches have operated les Jardins de la Grelinette, a successful 2-acre microfarm. His bestselling book The Market Gardener, which has sold a quarter million copies in nine languages, describes the biointensive principles used at his micro-farm. In 2015, he established a research farm, la Ferme des Quatre-Temps, where he trains apprentices and develops new strategies for market gardening, including year-round production. His methods of production are taught to a worldwide audience through the Market Gardener Masterclass, an online course of the Market Gardener Institute, which is tailored to small-scale food growers. He is the founder of Growers & Co., a tool and apparel company that celebrates sustainable, local, and equitable food producers. Jean-Martin farms and lives in Quebec, Canada.

Catherine Sylvestre is the director of vegetable production at la Ferme des Quatre-Temps, a collaborative farm project inspired by the principles of ecological polyculture and regenerative agriculture. Leader of the market garden team, she trains program participants and develops and implements best practices for cold season growing, specializing in crop protection and greenhouse production for northern climates. She is also a technical advisor at the Market Gardener Institute, where she studies and teaches organic agriculture. In addition to her field experience, Catherine has a BSc in Ecological Agriculture and Professional Agrology and a Master’s degree in Political Science. Her academic focus has been the rich and complex relationship between human beings and nature, which meets in agriculture. Through her research, writing, and training, Catherine hopes to provide other farmers and market gardeners with the tools and knowledge to produce their own successful winter harvests. She lives in Quebec, Canada.

Holistic Integrated Pest Management for Fruit Trees: Including DIY Holistic Sprays and Perfecting Your Pruning

Tailored for fruit tree growers in any setting, urban or rural, this 4-hour session with Steph Muma and Susan Poizner will teach you why integrated pest management (IPM) is crucial for healthy, productive fruit trees. You’ll learn about organic, scientifically proven methods to combat pests and diseases, including organic sprays and manual traps. This workshop emphasizes proactive strategies like good hygiene to prevent issues before they start. Whether you’re managing a few backyard trees or extensive rural orchards, this workshop will equip you with practical, effective IPM techniques that will help improve tree health and the quality of your harvest wherever you live.

SPONSOR: Filsinger’s Organic Foods

Steph Muma co-owns Silver Creek Nursery Ltd in Wellesley ON with her husband Zack, where they grow a large variety of fruit trees, berries, and various tree seedlings focusing on species with edible properties. They also manage 3 test orchards, each about 1 acre, collectively growing well over 700 cultivars of fruiting plants and trees. Their farming philosophy involves promoting natural (and organic), balanced ecosystems centered on biological health above and below ground. As well as both producing and empowering their community, to grow nutritionally dense and diverse food for a sustainable food future.

Susan Poizner is an urban orchardist and fruit tree care educator and the director of the fruit tree care training website OrchardPeople.com. She is the author of two fruit tree care books, Growing Urban Orchards and Grow Fruit Trees Fast. Susan trains new growers worldwide through her award-winning fruit tree care training program at Orchardpeople.com, she is the host of a fruit tree care radio show and podcast at Podcast.OrchardPeople.com and she is an ISA Certified Arborist.

The Modern Greenhouse: A Deep-dive into Soil Biology and Automation Technology

This workshop is broken into two parts; in Part 1, Dr. Av Singh will share his expertise on building living soil beds in greenhouse growing. By adopting a lens through which we view plant health and food quality as an extension of soil health, Av will share how to design nutrient-dense potting soils that can be re-amended to optimize for sustainability. Learn more about the nutrients and biostimulants that can help foster a healthier plant chocked full of the secondary metabolites that we seek while still promoting a regenerative future.

During Part 2 of this workshop, Guillaume Lambert from Orisha will introduce you to the exciting world of greenhouse automation. It’s no longer just for large-scale farms; even small farms can reap the benefits of this emerging technology. This could be a game-changer for your business, helping you increase your profits and extend your growing season. Though it may sound complicated, once set up, it runs like a well-oiled machine. We’ll also be discussing the hurdles you may face, such as startup costs and finding the right fit for your farm. Several farmers from OCO will share their real-world experiences, providing valuable insights. So, if you’re interested in exploring the possibilities of automation in farming, this is the perfect opportunity.

SPONSORED BY: Orisha

Dr. Av Singh is one of Canada’s leading authorities on organic agriculture. After completing his post-doc at the University of Minnesota on pasture-based livestock production, Singh worked at the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada and served as the Organic and Small-Scale Farming Specialist in Nova Scotia, for over 15 years, and recently held the Just Us! Chair in Small Farm Sustainability. Dr. Singh has authored over 200 peer-reviewed papers, chapters, and extension articles and has been an invited speaker to over 500 workshops, conferences, and symposia as well as guest-lecturing at over 30 universities in Canada, the US, the UK, and India. Av has had the privilege of visiting over 2000 farms across five continents which has shaped his extension of holistic, system-based design solutions. Emphasizing a union of traditional knowledge with science, Av works with growers to cultivate an appreciation of plant:soil interrelationships.

Guillaume Lambert has given several lectures, including a panel for Zone Agtech and for Cycle Momentum in Montreal. He has conducted numerous webinars on automation and cold greenhouse crops. He is the CEO of the company Orisha, specializing in AI systems and greenhouse automation.

Practical Aspects of Biodynamic Farming

In this 4-hr workshop, we invite you to view the farm as a living organism and learn practices that work in harmony with both the physical and the spiritual realm. Robby Gass and Chris Boettcher will highlight the synergies between biodynamic, organic and regenerative farming approaches and how we can apply lessons learned from each to enhance our understanding of soil and plant health. At the heart of the biodynamic method are the preparations used to treat the soil, compost and crops. Robby and Chris will lead us in making most of these preparations, as we discuss their healing effects on the earth and its produce. Participants will have the opportunity to handle the various materials and preparations to gain a clear understanding of why they are important to the well-being of the whole farm and garden.

With over 30 years of experience, Robby Gass is a seasoned agricultural manager, consultant and
trainer of large-scale mixed organic and biodynamic farming, soil biology and market gardening. Born and raised in South Africa to English-Scottish parents, Robby broadened his understanding and expertise as an educator and consultant in horticulture and organic farming, while earning an MSc in organic
farming from the SRUC, Glasgow University. He then attended Dr. Elaine Ingham’s world-renowned Soil
Food Web School in Oregon where he was awarded a certificate in soil microscopy.

After coming to Canada in January 2022, Robby worked as Director of Regenerative Agriculture at Refeed Farms in BC, as well as establishing ALBA Organics Consulting in Canada. In December 2022, he was appointed as the Director of Biodynamic Education at the Rudolf Steiner College Canada in Ontario to develop and direct a distance learning, private career training program for biodynamic farming and gardening, a role he continues to fulfil. Robby loves to share his knowledge and experience across a wide array of agricultural and ecological entities towards improving the way we steward our planet for a healthier future.

Coming out of conventional agriculture, Chris Boettcher has practiced biodynamic farming for 25 years. His family-run farm is located in mid-western Ontario. They sell Demeter-certified grains and tofu beans, as well as marketing about 500 lambs from their pasture-based sheep flock. The farm also includes a family orchard and a 5 to 10-acre vegetable operation. The newest addition is a forage-based 200-goat dairy run by the two oldest sons.

SureSource Presents: A Systems Approach to Organic Grain and Livestock Production

Join Dr. Martin Entz for a full day of Agronomy training, a workshop aimed at meeting the growing demand for Organics in Ontario. Spend a day learning from one of Canada’s top organic experts as he leads us through a program designed for public and private sector agronomists who work with organic producers. This workshop is also suitable for grain and livestock farmers considering a transition to organic or current practitioners who want to learn the theory and latest science. In this workshop, Martin will discuss a systems approach to ecological farming, using practices adapted to location and farming activities. Material covered will include:

  •  Nutrient management in organic cropping systems
  •  Seeds and seeding systems for organic agriculture
  • Insects and disease management in organic agriculture
  • Improving soil health in organic systems

The material also includes motivations and processes for transition and crop-livestock integration as a tool for sustainable production. There will be ample opportunity for question and answer periods, as well as group discussions so come prepared to share your thoughts.

SPONSOR: SureSource Commodities

Dr. Martin Entz is a professor in the Department of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba and seeks to change the future of farming as inaugural Jarislowsky Chair in Natural Systems Agriculture for Climate Solutions. He received his PhD from the University of Saskatchewan in 1988 and worked as a farm manager and research agronomist before embarking on his academic career. Martin’s research focuses on ecologically-integrated farming systems and empowering farmers with the knowledge and other tools required to design sustainable farming systems adapted to where they live. He leads the Glenlea Long-Term Rotation Study – Canada’s oldest organic vs conventional farming systems experiment, which has been completed in 28 years. Together with colleagues, Martin founded the U of Manitoba’s Natural Systems Agriculture program, which explores cropping systems based on processes found in nature — specifically the natural grassland ecosystem of prairie Canada. Martin and his team of grad students, research associates, and technicians work closely with farmers. He seeks to make his research inclusive and applicable to all farms and farmers. He believes that we need to highlight and name the positive practices many farmers are already using, such as good crop rotations, reduced tillage, reduced pesticide use, and incorporating a diversity of crops and livestock on the same farm. Important influences on his career range from childhood pasture walks with his grandparents who showed him the diversity of plants, bugs, and birds on their family farm, to Dr. Wes Jackson who has dedicated his life to breeding perennial grain crops, to the many young people from around the world who come to U of M to study with him.

Expanding Opportunity and Increasing Revenue on the Market Farm: Looking at Restaurant Sales and Cut-Flowers

In this thought-provoking session, we focus on two promising avenues: the integration of restaurant sales and the cultivation of cut flowers. Dive into an enriching presentation that unveils the potential of diversification in market farming. Join us for the exploration of these two strategic sales avenues to broaden your offerings and elevate your farm’s financial success.

Discover how forging partnerships with local restaurants can not only create a steady revenue stream but also amplify your farm’s visibility and credibility in the community. Learn how to build working relationships with chefs, set up a weekly fresh list and plan the harvest.  This in depth look will also open your perspective to how tailoring your produce to meet the needs of chefs can streamline production and improve sales in other markets.

In parallel, delve into the flourishing world of cut flowers—a blossoming market with immense potential. Unearth the secrets to cultivating vibrant blooms that captivate customers and establish your farm as a go-to source for local flowers. Explore the art of marketing and selling cut flowers, adding an aesthetically pleasing dimension to your product offerings and setting you up to cash in on this growing market!

Luke Sheldrick is the Owner of Terramor Farm.  With a rich background in the restaurant industry, Luke and his partner Dana Moores have blended their passion for high quality food and entrepreneurship with sustainable farming practices to create a thriving farming business.

Their journey began working within some of the finest restaurants in Ottawa, where they developed a deep appreciation for the relationship between sustainable food and dining culture. This background fuels the innovative approach at Terramor Farm, located in Burnstown, ON where they cultivate a diverse range of high quality vegetables and cut-flowers sold directly to consumers.  In just 7 seasons Terramor Farm has grown to employ 8 full time staff and gross over $250000 in annual sales to their CSA program, local restaurants and farmers markets.

As an engaging speaker, Luke shares his experiences of starting a profitable small scale farm that has grown quickly through expanding sales avenues, developing systems and building a strong farm team. His talks highlight the intersection of business and agriculture, offering insights into how sustainable farming practices can create community focused farms that are sustainable for the staff and owners as well as the land that they work.

Compost Brewing Tea: Zero Budget Nature Farming Techniques

This workshop revolves around building better-living soils and improving plant performance through the use of various liquid compost brews and extracts in seed inoculation, direct soil, and foliage applications. Owen Goltz will lead you through his experience in using various types of compost made from a static pile system, vermiculture compost, and the Johnson and Su Bioreactor, plus the importance of monitoring water/oxygen requirements in selecting or DIY brewing equipment. Owen will discuss how, why, and when to add extra value to your compost solution using, kelp, fish byproducts, biochar, wood vinegar, sugars, and other amendments. This workshop examines application options and timing considerations.

Owen’s journey started in 2008; today over 90% of the nutritional requirements used to improve and maintain soil life as well as increase plant immunity systems come from within the property boundaries of the farm. Learn firsthand and experience the liquid compost teas for fruits, vegetables, nursery, and forage crops.

Owen Goltz‘s career has spanned over 30 years in the arboriculture industry as a climber, teacher, mentor, innovator, and consultant. In 2008, Owen sold his company to pursue a childhood dream of becoming a farmer. Over the years, he has honed his soil health skills and is now recognized both locally and internationally for his innovation in composting, brewing, biochar, and wood vinegar, and their connections to living soils, plant health, and human wellbeing. Riverdale Farm and Forest is a living example of the growing possibilities when farming within nature.

Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers

In this session, we’ll be learning from farmer and Ferme Tourne-Sol co-owner Dan Brisebois about crop planning for organic vegetables. He will shed light on how to increase productivity and profit with the use of a strategic plan, coupled with flexibility, to maximize our farms’ potential. Come and walk through the whole crop planning process and lay out the core parts of your plan: your financial goals, your sales plan, your field plan, and your nursery plan. Then we will jump into some simple yet thorough crop planning spreadsheet system. We will explore the nuts and bolts of Pivot Tables and how to get the most out of your spreadsheets.

Dan Brisebois is the co-author of Crop Planning For Organic Vegetable Growers. Dan is one of the farmers at Tourne-Sol co-operative farm in Les Cèdres, Quebec. This cooperative farm has 9 members and about 15 employees who are all passionate about healthy food, gardening, seed production and ecology. Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm began of common interest in 2004. By working together and following agro-ecological principles, they have succeeded in creating a democratic, diverse and sustainable company. Dan is also the host of the Seed Growers Podcast and blogs about seed at danbrisebois.farm

The Inside Scoop on the Organic Seed World: Ask a Seed Company

This session will give the farmers on the panel (Aaron Varadi, Kim Delaney, Manish Kushwaha, Angie Koch, and Leslie Moskovits) and the audience a chance to ask all the questions they have about the organic seed world:

  • Where do varieties come from?
  • Why do varieties become commercially available or disappear?
  • What goes into the breeding and production process?
  • What are some of the most challenging crops to source and why?
  • … and so much more!

Through this farmer-led discussion and extensive question and answer session, attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of the trends, strengths, challenges, and nuances of the organic seed world, and be better able to navigate that world in a way that strengthens their farms.

Aaron Varadi is a Commercial Grower Sales Representative with High Mowing Organic Seeds, where he works with commercial vegetable growers across Canada to get them the seeds and knowledge they need to thrive. In addition, Aaron also works as High Mowing’s Contract Production Specialist, where he helps coordinate contract seed productions with High Mowing’s dozens of growers.

Kim Delaney is the owner of Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds.

Manish Kushwaha is the owner of Gaia Organic Seeds.

Angie Koch is the owner of Fertile Ground Farm.

Leslie Moskovits is the owner of Cedar Down Farm.

Can We Unlock Soil’s Natural Fertility?

This session will give the farmers on the panel (Aaron Varadi, Kim Delaney, Manish Kushwaha, Angie Koch, and Leslie Moskovits) and the audience a chance to ask all the questions they have about the organic seed world:

  • Where do varieties come from?
  • Why do varieties become commercially available or disappear?
  • What goes into the breeding and production process?
  • What are some of the most challenging crops to source and why?
  • … and so much more!

Through this farmer-led discussion and extensive question and answer session, attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of the trends, strengths, challenges, and nuances of the organic seed world, and be better able to navigate that world in a way that strengthens their farms.

Nadija is an environmental engineer and a certified crop consultant specializing in soil biology rejuvenation using natural systems, Nadjia designs soil rejuvenation products for soil health management systems and helps guide clients through their regenerative journey. She is an educator and an influencer with a growing following in the regenerative agriculture community.

The Beef on Beef: A Discussion on Grass-fed and Organic Cattle Production

In this panel, we’ll chew over the different ways Ontario farmers are choosing a non-conventional approach to raising cattle.
Hear from producers their take on different topics including:
– Non-conventional beef production, climate change, and responding to the “anti-beef” movement
– What goes into proper processing, packaging and marketing of labelled products
– Economics of grass-fed vs. organic vs. conventional
– What the label means for human and planet health

Christoph is the Livestock Sustainability Specialist  with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  He was raised on a farm near Powassan, and received his Bachelor of Science (Nutritional Sciences) and Master of Science (Animal Science – Ruminant Nutrition) from the University of Guelph.  He has been part of OMAFRA’s efforts toward environmental sustainability through his involvement in the Environmental Farm Plan, and other funding and policy programs.  His previous technical work in nutrition was focused on economic sustainability including labour reduction, feed and nutrient use efficiency, alternative forages, GHG mitigation and most recently value chains. 

The Zettel Family has an organic farm located in Chepstow, ON. They raise grassfed organic meats including beef, pork, and poultry.

James Byrne is a Beef Cattle Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. James main areas of focus include improving cow calf production and management, cattle nutrition and improving the management and performance of cattle from pasture. James writes regularly for Virtual Beef, Ontario Beef and Ontario Cattle Feeders. James is involved with the annual planning of Beef Symposium, Ruminant Feed Industry Days and Grazing Cover Crop workshops. James worked with Masterfeeds before joining the Ministry in 2017 and is based out of the Lindsay office. Originally from Ireland, James spent 15 years working with the Irish extension service, (Teagasc), providing training and education to beef and sheep producers.

Phill’s experience in the cattle industry is very broad as seen by the various roles he has been involved in since graduating from the University of Guelph with a BSc in Agriculture in 1998. Previous to attending U of G, Phill went to Centralia College where he took Agriculture Business Management. On the home front, Phill and his family farm a cow/calf operation after having an organic sheep flock for several years. 

Panel: Growing Heritage Grains for Quality Flours

There is a growing interest from consumers, bakers, and farmers to access heritage grains. Whether that is emmer, einkorn, red fife, spelt, or wheat, there can be many barriers to bringing these types of grains to the market on a large scale. In this panel discussion, you will hear from farmers, millers, and bakers who have been working with heritage grains in varying capacities. Join us to hear about the rewards and challenges of growing heritage grains, as well as considerations for how you can get started on your heritage grains journey!
SPONSOR: EFAO

Melissa McKeown started 1847 Stone Milling with her brother and husband back in 2014. At the time, they could not find local flour or any local flour mills. They saw a unique opportunity and took matters into their own hands, and that’s how 1847 Stone Milling was born. 1847 Milling is committed to sourcing organic and local heritage grains while maintaining traditional milling techniques.

Harro Wehrmann owns Wehrmann Grain & Seeds Ltd, and Endo Plant Health. Harro brings 30 plus years of organic farming & research.

Gabrielle Prud’homme is the founder and miller at Almanac Urban Mill & Bakery in Ottawa, Ontario. Almanac works closely with local producers to source organically grown heritage grains farmed with integrity; transforming them into fresh stone-milled flour with purpose and intention. Almanac’s mission is to deliver good food by supporting better farming. They are committed to supporting restorative agricultural practices that promote environmental resiliency and conserve the land for future generations.

Gabrielle is a graduate of the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and spent over a decade in hospitality before launching her business

Livestock Husbandry as the Foundation for Farming Systems

In this session, Michael Schmidt will be exploring several topics:

History of farming in regards to human and social development.

– Understanding the difference between “genetic potential” and natural ability

– Husbandry as the foundation for developing your local breed

– Rationalization as a symbolic form of divorce

– Renewing the commitment to “husbandry”

Michael Schmidt has been farming for over 50 years, 40 years in Ontario at Glencolton Farms. He has a Masters degree in farming. He always tried cultivating a balanced diversified farm focusing on social and economic sustainability. The model of cooperative and farm-share ownership to connect people with their food has been a lifelong struggle in the face of bureaucratic hurdles that focus on rationalizing food production, food distribution, and food safety regulations. A diversified livestock and the breeding of animals based on the principle of farm-specific breeds has been successfully implemented at Glencolton Farms since 1983.

Models of Farming Cooperatives

In this session, Dan will shares his 19 years of experience farming in a worker co-op and the key tools to make it easier to farm in collaboration with other people. By working together and following agro-ecological principles, his farm has succeeded in creating a democratic, diverse and sustainable company. There are many bonuses to farming this way, including reducing investment costs and enhances quality of life. Dan will dicuss how to best deal with issues of time, money and communication. How to empower everyone involved, whether as partners, co-farmers, or employees.

Dan Brisebois is the co-author of Crop Planning For Organic Vegetable Growers. Dan is one of the farmers at Tourne-Sol co-operative farm in Les Cèdres, Quebec. This cooperative farm has 9 members and about 15 employees who are all passionate about healthy food, gardening, seed production and ecology.

Panel: Feast On – Working with Restaurants (Presented by the Culinary Tourism Alliance)

In this panel, the Culinary Tourism Alliance’s Programs Manager, Astrid Di Paolo will lead Feast On® certified restaurants, experiences, producers and distribution partners in a robust conversation about how they are growing culinary tourism in Ontario. We asked the question “How are chefs and food service providers delivering a taste of Ontario through the dining experience?”, and this panel will explore just that.

Ian is a destination developer and researcher who leads professional services projects at the Culinary Tourism Alliance. In this capacity, he works with destinations to develop strategic plans and tourism products and programs such as food trails, ambassador programs and accreditation programs. He also facilitates many of the Culinary Tourism Alliance’s industry development workshops.

Court Desautels is the President & CEO of the Neighbourhood Group of Companies, a Certified B Corporation managing five restaurants across four brands in Guelph & Kitchener – The Wooly Pub, Borealis Grille & Bar, Miijidaa Café + Bistro, and Park Eatery. In this role, Court’s approach is rooted in enhancing financial, social, and environmental well-being through a range of initiatives focused on sustainability, diversity & inclusion, poverty alleviation, and health & wellness for his team and community.

Grace Mandarano started 100km Foods Inc in 2008 which has now purchased more than 45 million dollars’ worth of local food directly from 150+ producers and artisans across Ontario. They serve 500 restaurant and foodservice customers in Toronto and surrounding areas, providing them with access to the finest, freshest, local ingredients and a genuine connection to the people and land that grow them. Grace’s vision for her busienss has restored a vital connection to food: where it comes from, how it is grown, and how the greater community benefits and thrives through that connection.

Paul Sawtell is the co-founder and co-owner of 100km Foods Inc., an award-winning local food distribution company based in Toronto. Since 2008, Paul has sought to create a strong, viable, and fair local food economy that benefits not only their customers but the farmers and producers who grow their food as well. It us Paul’s belief that for-profit organizations, aimed at doing the right thing, can be instruments for real change. 100km Foods Inc. is currently in its 16th year of operation.

Unleash the Superpowers of Insects: the Role of Insect Farming in Mitigating Organic Waste, Providing Sustainable Animal Feed and Enhancing Organic Crop Fertilization

Spanning millennia, the practice of insect agriculture has endured, embracing ancient traditions like beekeeping and silk production, offering a profound testament to humanity’s extensive reliance on and interaction with insects over time. Over the past decade, there has been a growing interest in using the potential of other insects. Leveraging their bioconversion capabilities, they offer an opportunity to effectively manage organic waste and transform it into high quality proteins and oils for livestock feed. Insect farming also yields a valuable co-product known as « frass », a natural, sustainable, and organic fertilizer that holds substantial untapped potential. This circular economy approach not only aids in reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also supports food self-sufficiency.

During this session, Ludovic Lair will delve into insect rearing and focus on the importance of insect farming within the circular economy, highlighting the Black Soldier Fly (BSF). Attendees will get valuable insights from research findings, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the value of BSF frass and its positive impact on organic farming fertilization.

Ludovic Lair was originally trained as an agronomist in France (AgroParisTech). In 2021, after 17 years in the pet food industry in Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America, he decided to jump on board with Entosystem and be part of the great challenge of reinventing our food system by unleashing the superpowers of insects. He is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Entosystem.

Organic Procurement for Institutions

In April 2023, the George Brown College Chef School became the first post-secondary institution in Canada to achieve the Gold Organic Campus Designation according to the standards of the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA). Students in the “Food Movements” course of the Honours Bachelor of Food Studies led the way, working with faculty, staff, COTA, and Pfennings to make it happen. This presentation tells the story of this initiative from the perspectives of a variety of people involved in the project.

Dr. Lori Stahlbrand is an award-winning Professor at George Brown College, where she co-
developed and co-leads the first Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Food Studies in Canada. Lori has wide-ranging experience in the food sector, as a food policy specialist, a non-profit leader and an academic. Prior to joining George Brown, Lori worked for the City of Toronto, responsible for the Toronto Food Policy Council. She was also a well-known CBC broadcaster for many years.

Jennifer Pfenning is a family owner and the Director of Human Resources, Marketing and Operations at Pfenning’s Organic Farm in New Hamburg, Ontario.

Joey has been working in the food industry for 20+ years. Education background: Joey graduated in Food & Beverage Management diploma from George Brown College, then she completed her Bachelor of Science in Food & Nutrition from Ryerson (currently TMU, Toronto Metropolitan University). She also completed her Project Management certification from Ryerson. Recently, she just graduated her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Athabasca
University. She worked in the Healthcare Food Services early in her career and she managed Retail Food Services in a few Toronto hospitals for 16 years. Seven years ago, she joined the Education Institution, George Brown College (Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts – CHCA). Currently she is the Operations Manager of the Inventory Control Center (ICC) at CHCA division. Her department is the engine of the CHCA division, which involves Data, Purchasing in food, equipment, wines & liquors, Receiving, Inventory, Production & Accounting. The department supplies all food ingredients and equipment for 300+ classes weekly. Within these 7 years, Joey handled and implemented a few sustainability projects for CHCA, which included local sustainable, Ocean Wise seafood, and the most recent – designated organic campus project etc. to decrease food waste, reduce carbon footprint and increase community economic activity.

Food Forest Abundance: Making Use of the Harvest

Food forests provide a huge variety of different edible products throughout the growing season, and a wonderful problem that emerges is how to make use of the bounty. This workshop will detail how to use the various shoots, fruits, nuts, and tubers.

Ben Caesar was born and raised in Elmira, Ontario. He has been experimenting with perennial edibles for many years and opened Fiddlehead Nursery in 2012. He manages (and eats from) an ever-expanding demonstration garden to showcase some of the best plants for edible landscapes. He’s always experimenting with new edible plants and is passionate about gardens that mimic the diversity and structure of natural ecosystems as they build soil and produce food.

A Holistic Approach to Farm Planning and Design

In this session, Ryan Cullen will explore the use of holistic farm planning and adaptive management using a framework and a set of tools developed for planning and managing your farm. This session will explore a holistic model that considers the ecological, social, and economic paradigms and outcomes related to your farm operation. Participants will learn how to develop their context with clarity, understand their resource base and how to leverage it, develop holistic goals, and make decisions that lead them toward a regenerative and resilient resource base.

This session will answer questions like:

  • What is Holistic Management and how can you apply it to your farm context?
  • How do you develop holistic goals, assess your resource base, and make holistic decisions?
  • How do you develop a future resource base that is resilient and regenerative?
  • How to make decisions that lead towards your holistic goals?

The session will be informative, interactive, and engaging and demonstrate how farms and farmers can leverage this framework to develop a farming model that is ecologically regenerative, economically viable, socially vibrant, and resilient. Participants will walk away with a framework and a model that they can use to manage their farms.

Ryan Cullen is a grower, educator, and entrepreneur who has trained with some of the best agricultural professionals in the world, studying permaculture, regenerative agriculture, market gardening, and urban farming. Ryan managed the urban farm at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food at Durham College. He also works closely with Growers & Co. and The Market Garden Institute while operating his own regenerative farm homestead and commercial market garden City of Greens. He specializes in design, consulting, teaching, training, media, and entrepreneurship at the Horticulture Food and Farming Company

Building Biology with Less: A Lesson on Soil Remediation

This session will explore proper composting methods, what role biologically active compost has on the farm, and how to look for great compost. Bringing it all together we will discuss how to implement on-farm solutions like compost applications and cover cropping. It all starts with a quick introduction to The Soil Food Web,  where we learn to understand the structure of soil and apply the principles to improve water infiltration, nutrient cycling and increased biodiversity.

John Montague is the owner of The Glen Road Organics and has been composting and farming for nearly 20 years. John is a holistic soil consultant and focuses on compost production and healing soils.

Nicole Brouwer grew up on a cash crop farm in South Western Ontario and has been working in agriculture full time for over 3 years specializing in market garden growing and soil health. She is especially interested in regenerative practices and making farming a climate supportive industry

Supporting the Next Generation of Non-Conventional Farmers

Owning and operating a farm is complex and requires many different skills and experiences. It ranges from having a gut feeling that the ground is still too tacky to work, to building a network of information resources to help with marketing decisions

That’s why transition must include training and mentoring. It’s not only about passing on assets and a business. It’s passing on and developing knowledge.

In this panel discussion, we will hear from Lisa, Ali, and Brenda as they share their perspectives on how we can support the new generation of farmers.

SPONSORS: Ignatius Jesuit Center, NFU, EFAO

Leads Farm Education & Training at Ignatius Guelph

Ali is the Executive Director of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO), a farmer-led membership organization that supports farmers to build resilient ecological farms and grow a strong knowledge sharing community. Ali holds a B.Sc. in Food Production and the Environment from McGill University and a M.Sc. in Agroecology from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Brenda Hsueh is a Canadian-born Chinese agroecological sheep farmer, who left a financial career in downtown Toronto to start her own farm in 2009. She ran a 1 acre market garden, growing vegetables for CSA members in the GTA for 14 seasons, as the sheep flock and their meat and fibre products increased. Now she is also working with FCS to help more farmers convert to climate beneficial farming practices through the FaRM Program. She wants to see farming become the climate crisis saviour it should be, building soils, sequestering carbon, being a moisture sponge, and providing habitat for countless species.

Organic Inputs Review Hosted by OMRI

Join Orsi Dézsi in an Open Forum discussion where you are invited to share your experience using Organic Inputs. This group discussion will involve a Q&A with farmers and other community leaders, talking about what inputs are working and what ones may not be working. It’s an important opportunity for folks to share their experiences.

SPONSOR: OMRI

OMRI Executive Director/CEO, Orsi Dézsi holds a B.A. in History and Russian & Eastern European Studies, and a Master’s in Public Administration, with a focus in Nonprofit Management. For the past 20 years, she has worked closely with the regulatory community, industry stakeholders, and clients to navigate the evolving global regulatory landscape in both equipment design and food contact material regulations. Outside of work, Orsi is actively involved in the community by volunteering at a local animal rescue and food pantry.

Learning from Regenerative Organic Oats Project: Sponsored by Riverside Natural Foods

To be on the leading edge of addressing and adapting to our changing climate, it is clear that actors from across the supply chain need to work together to foster regenerative organic practices that prioritize soil health, increase farm profitability, and enhance carbon sequestration. Join Canadian Organic Growers (COG) for an insightful discussion on our Regenerative Organic Oats (ROO) program’s successes, findings, and key learnings. 

Regenerative Organic Oats (ROO) is a three-year pilot project funded by Nature’s Path, Riverside Natural Foods; producers of the snack brand MadeGood and MGM Seed and Grain that supports and bolsters the growth of the Canadian regenerative organic oats supply in the face of climate change. 

SPONSOR: Riverside Natural Foods

Allison is an owner and operator of Upland Organics, an organic grain farm located near Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, with her husband and three children. Upland Organics has been certified organic for over a decade and produce several crop types including pulses, cereals, and oilseeds. After completing her BSc in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Guelph (Guelph, ON) Allison moved to Saskatoon, SK to complete first her MSc and then PhD in Toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan. Allison has many years of board experience and currently sits on several local and regional boards. This has provided her with experience in community engagement and fundraising in both regular and non-profit capacities. Allison believes that as organic producers we have a very interesting and positive story to tell. She is passionate about empowering and inspiring other organic producers to be willing to “think outside the box” and learn about new techniques and methods to improve the quality of their food production. Allison is very interested in promoting the organic industry; especially through on-farm research. Allison supports involving organic producers at the
individual farm level and believes that it will contribute to the overall applicability of organic
research.

Dorthea Gregoire has a passion for working on the agricultural landscape and a strong interest in Regenerative Agriculture. She’s spent the last decade helping farmers access funding and resources to implement Best Management Practices on their farms. Growing up in southeastern Manitoba, first in the fertile, though flood-prone, Red River Valley and then in the sandier area near Sandilands Provincial Park, Dorthea understands the value of working
with the land and not against it. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree with Honours in Biology (minor in Geography) from Mount Allison University and a Doctorate in Entomology from the University of New Brunswick. She’s an avid gardener who loves cooking/baking, reading, biking, spending time outside and being with family.

BSc.Ag., MSc., Professional Agrologist (PAg.), Certified Crop Advisor (CCA-ON),
Organic Consultant Ruth is an advisor, mentor and catalyst, for farmers, land managers and communities seeking to transform their farming and food systems. Over the span of three decades, Ruth has been active in the organic sector as an organic certification inspector, farm advisor, educator, and event organizer. In 2005, Ruth established her independent consultancy company serving a diversity of organic farms and developing whole farm plans with landowners. Ruth’s experience as an agronomist as well as farming for 20 years has been a valuable asset for teaching organic farming systems at the University of Guelph as well as developing and delivering curriculum to farmers transitioning to organics in the Canadian Organic Growers’ (GEOO) project in Eastern Ontario. Working with farmers in the field or in
the classroom, Ruth provides guidance to planning, monitoring and evaluating soil health, and improving organic farm practices with a regenerative mindset.

When she is not in the field or the classroom, Ruth enjoys gardening, walking her dog, and camping. Ruth also dedicates her time as a board director to the following: Organic Council of Ontario, Holistic Management Canada, Agricultural Adaptation Council, National Farmers Union-Ontario (Bruce Chapter) and Maitland Conservation Foundation.

Why and How to Certify Organic?

Organic certification is a system that helps ensure the integrity of organic products from field to table. It is a minimum benchmark that determines the basic requirements for organic food production systems. In Ontario and Canada, the certification of organic farms is carried out by third-party certification bodies which have been approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Join private and public inspectors during this panel discussion to understand if certification is within reach on your farm.

SPONSOR: Quality Assurance International (QAI)

Roxanne is a Senior Reviewer and Inspector at Quality Assurance International (QAI), an organic certification body, where she works with organic food producers in Canada, the U.S. and around the world. She is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI) and a member of the working group for revision of the processing sections of the Canadian Organic Standards. She first attended the Guelph Organic Conference in 1996 and is always happy to return to connect with the organic community.

Hugh is an organic certification expert with over 35 years of experience in Ontario’s organic sector, including as an agronomist and organic specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.

Hugh now works primarily as an organic inspector, and has been performing organic inspections for 7 years, but is willing to provide consulting services in livestock and farming as well.

Hugh is the current chair of Canada’s Organic Technical Committee (the industry group that writes and revises the Canadian Organic Standard). Having been involved in the establishment of the Canadian Organic Standards from the beginning, Hugh’s technical and historical knowledge is unparalleled.

Simon has Experience in the organic food sector as a farmer, inspector, and certification expert. He specializes in international organic standards, review of production inputs, and non-food and social responsibility standards.

Holistic Livestock: On-the-Farm Practices

Susan Beal, DVM will introduce the basics of Homeopathy philosophy and practice. This will include discussion about the dynamics of disease, obstacles that impact vital health and the response to treatment, and the pattern of responses to treatment. There will be instruction about how to give a homeopathic medicine, the timing of the doses and how to assess the response to the medicine.

Susan Beal comes from a long background of holistic veterinary practice and is dedicated to providing integrative care for animals, humans and the environment. Susan is particularly interested in whole farm/whole system pasture-based ecology and offers common sense advice and counsel, with the goal of health from the ground up – thriving individuals and ecosystems.

Best Practices and Considerations for Urban Hives

Keeping honey bees in urban areas is becoming increasingly popular, but Mike has seen how this new trend comes with its own set of challenges including swarms, colony deaths, and unhappy neighbours. In this presentation, Mike from Tri-City Bee Rescue will share his expertise on the needs of honeybee colonies in urban and peri-urban settings. Mike will address considerations for being a good keeper, a good neighbour, and a steward of native pollinators by discussing the following topics:

  • A colony’s space requirements, equipment needs, and costs
  • How to keep bees happy and healthy using organic methods
  • How to prevent defensive hives and swarming

Mike Barber is the founder of Tri-City Bee Rescue in Guelph, Ontario.  This group of dedicated beekeepers safely remove and relocate honeybees and native pollinators. Mike and his team collect swarms and remove colonies from people’s homes and outbuildings. Mike teaches workshops on keeping honeybees in addition to his efforts to rescue, relocate, educate and stimulate the honeybee and native bee populations

Building Local Alternatives to Our Industrial Food System

This panel discussion will take a high-level look at what is needed to move our modern food system (and society) away from ecological destruction. We will not be discussing agricultural practices or growing techniques; nor will we discuss land access and policy. Instead, we will be focusing on the systems themselves and asking ourselves the cold hard questions of “What change is needed on a systems scale”; “What is to be done” and “How can we do it”? In short, we are not talking about re-arranging the deck chairs but how can we disembark from the Titanic of industrial agriculture and row our way to a better future? Each panelist is involved in systems-scale change work and has a lot to say on the matter!

An organizer for the Eco-Just Youth Coop (EJYC), EJYC is a youth-led initiative that is one of three pillars of the Eco-Just Food Network (EJFN). Together, the three pillars build an alternative local food economy that supports small ecological farmers, connects people to the earth through farm work, empowers youth to take control of their future and builds food sovereignty through food security.

Coming soon!

Oglala Lakota, parent and founder of Chunka Luta Network, an Indigenous-led network (spanning the Caribbean, Canada, Pacific Islands, Australia, and the US) focused on building the capacity, independence, and strength of Indigenous nations and communities to reclaim dignity and landback.

Coming soon!

Dragoș is an educator and organizer with Eco Just Food Network, Chunka Luta Network, and Fellow Travellers.

Farming The Fringes – Perspectives and Possibilities of Peri-Urban Agriculture across the GTA

As the GTA continues to grow and urbanize, new land uses as well as new markets will continue to shape the lives and businesses of farmers. This panel brings together peri-urban farmers from across Southern Ontario to discuss and share the unique challenges and opportunities they have while farming near growing cities, suburbs, and towns.

I’m a four-year old farmling on the headwaters of the Humber River, approximately an hour away from Tkaronto. i farm regeneratively using no-till methods and little mechanical aid, which is not very profitable but a lot more ecological! i also forage as a way to monetize ‘weeds’ and to teach myself the value of all the plants that grow from the soil. as i move within the marginal spaces between dying and gestating worlds, i am learning that to be ‘rational’ is to be suicidal, and to be suicidal is to make space for all living creatures. i am learning how to farm as an act of true love. i am realizing that love only has meaning in relation to and with others, when it is embedded in shared acknowledged histories and futures.

Sunday Harrison is founder and Executive Director at Green Thumbs Growing Kids, an urban children/youth gardening program in partnership with elementary schools, and a land steward in Algonquin territory, so-called Maynooth Ontario. She is interested in the connections children and youth can make in peri-urban farming locations as well as urban gardening.

Antonio transitioned from a tech-focused background in brain robotics and race cars to founding Cavaleiro Farm in King Township, a thriving peri-urban oasis cultivating vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He now passionately guides entrepreneurs in creating off-the-grid regenerative farm communities, extending his mission beyond Cavaleiro Farm to empower sustainable ventures in harmony with nature.

Brandon Hebor launched his vertical farming agribusiness — Boreal Greens — three years ago. He holds an HBSc. in Environmental Science and Biology and Sustainable Business Management Certificate from McMaster University and Seneca College respectively. Brandon has accumulated over 10 years of applied experience in horticulture with 3 years of experience in Aquaponics operations.

How Organic Food Impacts Our Health

Join Dr. Jessica Dupont as we explore the fascinating relationship between our dietary choices, soil biodiversity, and the intricate ecosystem within us – the human microbiome. Scientific studies increasingly link environmental factors to a range of health issues spanning genetics, neurological function, reproduction, development, immunity, and metabolism in both children and adults. Delving into this relationship, we’ll touch on how the gut microbiome, through the microbiome-gut-brain axis, and various other pathways affects neuropsychiatric conditions, among other systemic illnesses in the human body.

Dr. Jessica Dupont is a Naturopathic Doctor, author, and public speaker with a dedicated focus on Women’s Health and Fertility through functional medicine and detoxification practices. With a profound mission to empower women and families, she strives to equip them with the knowledge to foster optimal wellness in their children, thereby creating stronger and healthier communities. Recently extending her expertise into corporate settings, Jessica provides invaluable counsel on nutrition and the significance of organic practices within the workplace. Her advocacy for a low-tox lifestyle, coupled with her deep-rooted interest in children’s development and the healing power of nature, underscores her passion for holistic well-being. Dr. Dupont serves on the board for the GUHAH Way Foundation and actively supports various women’s and children’s organizations within her community. She embodies the essence of a seasoned professional, a nurturing mentor, and a compassionate philanthropist, committed to making a positive impact.

Coming soon!