Speakers for the 8th Annual Assembly

Check back daily as we are listing new speakers all the time.

Key Note Speaker: Allison Hermes Executive Director  of P6 Co-operative Marketing USA

Allison Hermes is the National Director for the Principle Six (P6) Cooperative Trade Movement, a multi-stakeholder cooperative comprised of wholesale and retail cooperatives that supports small, local and cooperative farmers and producers.  Allison has been supporting the cooperative and organic food movement since 2010. Most recently, as Marketing Programs Manager with Organic Valley CROPP Cooperative, Allison has had her hand in just about every Organic Valley branded campaign. Prior to this position, she was hired to coordinate Organic Valley farm tours educating retail buyers, non-profit organizations, and consumers on the environmental and economic benefits of the cooperative business model and organic farming. Prior to her CROPP career, she attained her master’s degree across the sea at the University of London. In addition to hitting the books, she also volunteered with the Fair Trade Foundation and added chocolate to her resume with an internship at Divine Chocolate. Both experiences fueled her interest in the cooperative business model and contributing to a sustainable food system. ​

Workshop : P6 Co-operative Marketing

Mandy Bergan of West End Food Coop

Mandy Bergman is the coordinator of the Co-op Cred program, an alternative currency program that facilitates access to the health benefits of local, sustainable and nutritious food as well as supportive work experience opportunities for low-income and marginalized groups facing food insecurity and economic marginalization in Parkdale, Toronto. Mandy is on the Board of Directors of the West End Food Coop and chairs the annual Humber Ride4RealFood, a fundraiser to support the Co-op Cred program. Mandy also teaches at George Brown College. She is an activist, feminist, environmentalist and avid knitter!

 Workshop: Food Security Priority Consultation - How to find the balance between social enterprise and food security inititaives
 Aimee Blyth - The Seasoned Spoon

Since 2009 Aimee has been the General Manager of the Seasoned Spoon Café at Trent University. The Spoon is a cooperative café that serves local, organic food and offers educational opportunities for students and community members to learn about food issues. Prior to working at the Spoon, Aimee spent four seasons taking care of the two vegetable gardens at Trent University, a rooftop garden and a field garden totalling nearly an acre of intensively planted veggies.  Aimee holds a Masters degree in Canadian Studies from Trent University where she studied small-scale agriculture and local food systems.

Workshop: Staff Evaluations


Éric Blondin: Three Forks Farms

Eric Blondin is co-owner of Three Forks Farms, a vegetable and pastured poultry operation in Warren, Ontario. Before being a farm owner Eric was the produce & meat department manager at Eat Local Sudbury Co-op.  It was at the co-op that he began learning about effective produce handling on shoestring budget. Those skills are very much utilized on the farm to assure produce quality for wholesale and direct retailing purposes.

Workshop: Produce Handling and Retailing




Erica Lagios : Eat Local Sudbury Co-operative

Erica has been working with Eat Local Sudbury since 2015 in the roles of Local Food Sales Clerk, Produce Supervisor, and most recently as Store Manager. As the Store Manager she oversees the day-to-day operation of the co-op, works with the Board of Directors on guiding the direction of Eat Local, and connects with farmers and other producers to bring product into the store, building community relationships. Erica also organizes the multi-farmer Community Supported Agriculture program, which connects eaters with growers.

Workshop: How to Sell to Retail  - the farmer retailer relationship


Laura Hiebert: SCOR FoodHub

Laura has been working on the South Central Ontario Region Economic Development Corporation’s (SCOR EDC) FoodHub project since 2015. She works directly with both purchasers and producers to raise the demand for locally grown product, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the FoodHub.


Workshop : Online Local Food Sales Softwares



Sally Miller: Local Organic Food Coops Network

Sally Miller (BA Princeton, MA, PhD Cornell University, MES York University) has worked in sustainable food and agriculture for over twenty-five years both in Canada and in the U.S. She has extensive experience as a consultant and manager in a variety of organic and natural food and farm co-operatives and enterprises (including the Ontario Natural Food Co-op, Organic Meadow in Canada, and Greenstar Co-op and Finger Lakes Organic Growers’ Co-op in the U.S.). She was a founder of the Fourth Pig Worker Co-op in 2007, a natural building worker co-op, and developer for the West End Food Co-op in 2009-2011. She has been with the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network since 2015. Sally is also currently the Research Coordinator for the City Region Food Systems Toronto Project, part of an international research project looking at urban/rural food systems. Her publications include Edible Action: Food Activism and Alternative Economics (Fernwood Publishing, 2008); and Belongings: The Fight for Land and Food (Fernwood Publishing 2016).

Workshops: Land Access Co-ops, Co-operative Marketing Consultation
John Molenhuis: OMAFRA

John has been with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as the Business Analysis and Cost of Production Specialist for the past 17 years. In this role he leads projects in the area of crop and livestock cost of production budgeting and financial benchmarking.

John has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business from the University of Guelph. John grew up on a farrow-to-finish hog operation outside of Strathroy, Ontario and now lives in Brighton with his wife and four children.

Workshop: Cost and Profit: Pricing your local food product.




Susanna Redekop: West End Food Co-op

Susanna has been a Coordinator at the West End Food Co-op (WEFC) for the past 5 years.  She is currently the Communications Coordinator, leading the majority of their marketing, design, and communications in both print and online, with guidance she gains from chairing WEFC’s Fundraising & Marketing Committee.  She has a B.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Toronto and is a founding member of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, with a background and interest in food security and accessibility issues.

Workshop: Communications and Social Media 101



Theresa Schumilas : Open Food Network

Theresa has been an organic farmer for 25 years.  She recently completed doctoral research on peasant farming and the organic sector in China.  She is currently a researcher at the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and is working to launch Open Food Network as a not-for-profit organization in Canada that helps 'move the food movement'.

Workshop : Online Local Food Sales Softwares


Jennifer Springett - LFFC and Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op

Jennifer Springett is the Northwest Coordinator for LOFC. With a keen interest in animal ethics, food security & sustainable farming. She and her husband strive to produce as much of their family's food as possible on their small hobby farm in Dryden. She is actively involved in the leadership of various agricultural associations in her community, and was a lead founder of the Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op in 2013, of which she is currently the President.

Workshop : Online Local Food Sales Softwares


Maureen Strickland : On Coop and Local Organic Food Co-ops Network

Maureen Strickland is passionate about the community economic development potential of co-operatives to meet the challenges and opportunities of our time. She has worked with individuals, businesses and communities in the United Kingdom, Nova Scotia and Northern Ontario in the fields of social finance, co-operative development and community economic development. Currently, Maureen works for the Ontario Co-operative Association and the Local Organic Food Co-operatives Network building co-operative networks and businesses in Northeastern Ontario. In relation to her session at the Assembly Maureen has been on both sides of the board table as a board member and as staff reporting to a board of directors.

Workshop: Good Governance - How to Be a Good Board



Carolyn Young - Organic Council of Ontario

Carolyn Young is the past Director of Sustain Ontario, the alliance for healthy food and farming.  As a former organic inspector, Carolyn has extensive expertise in the area of organic value chains.  She is also an expert in non-profit management, business planning and strategic planning, having helped lead the growth of the Sustain Ontario alliance over four years.  She has conducted several sector-wide consultations for the purposes of the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy, the Local Food Act and Regional Designations for the government.  Carolyn has a background in membership and governance development as well as action planning.

Featured Speaker: The Organic Check-Off


Glenn Vailliere - Pfennings

Glenn Valliere is a long-time co-op practitioner with purchasing and senior management experience at the Big Carrot, Karma Co-op and Ontario Natural Food Co-op.

Glenn's sat on boards for Everdale Environmental Learning Centre and the Ontario Co-operative Association and was recently elected to the board of the Canadian Organic Trade Association. Glenn also holds a Certificate in Food Security from Ryerson University and a Master of Management - Co-operatives and Credit Unions (MMCCU) from Saint Mary's University. In January Glenn was asked to join the team at Pfenning's Organic Vegetables where he is supporting operational and strategic improvements.  He also maintains small contracts offering management support to keep himself connected to the co-operative sector.

Until recently a long-time member of the LOFC Steering Committee - Glenn is delighted to participate in the annual assembly again this year.  You'll probably see him with a camera in hand.

Workshop: Curves and Quadrants - Two Powerful Frameworks for Organizing Data



Melinda Zytaruk of Fourth Pig Worker Co-op

Melinda Zytaruk is the General Manager and a founding member of the Fourth Pig Worker Co-op. Melinda is a PHIUS Certified Builder. She has a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University with a focus on community renewable energy and sustainability and is a graduate of the Renewable Energy Education Program of Solar Energy International located in Colorado. Melinda’s career has merged her passions for green construction, community organizing and education.

Workshop: Worker Transitions. Bringing on new members