Board of Directors
EFAO’s Board of Directors is made up of volunteer board members from across the ecological farming community in Ontario. Interested in joining the board? Learn more about the role and apply.
Brent Preston and his wife Gillian Flies own and operate The New Farm, an organic vegetable operation near Creemore, Ontario. They specialize in cut salads for the wholesale and foodservice market, and provide produce to some of the best restaurants in Canada. Brent is the President of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario and a co-founder of Farmers for Climate Solutions, a pan-Canadian coalition of farm organizations that advocates for better climate policy in agriculture.. He is the author of The New Farm: Our Ten Years on the Front Lines of the Good Food Revolution, a national bestseller. Prior to launching his farming career, Brent worked as a human rights investigator, election observer and journalist on four continents.
Anan has been working in sustainable food systems development with a focus on food justice, Urban Agriculture, and Youth Leadership Development for the past 24 years. He has a master’s degree in environmental studies from York University with a focus on Community Food Security and a diploma in Business Administration from Centennial College. Over the last thirty years he has done extensive community work in the areas of equity, food justice, community food security, social justice and anti-racism, including training, community development, organizing and running equity/diversity management, community economic development and youth leadership development programs.
As Canadian Food Systems Analyst and Urban Farmer, Anan’s passion is working in low-income communities to help create food secure communities through an equity lens. In 1997 Anan founded Canada’s first people of color food systems organization, Afri-Can FoodBasket, in Toronto, where he was also a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC) from 2001-2009.
Anan has also recently launched an international food sovereignty initiative in Guyana.
Raised on a hobby farm, Melissa’s interest in agriculture began when she came to realize that her barnyard friends eventually made their way to the dinner table. Today she is the Project Director of Food from Thought: Agricultural Systems for a Healthy Planet, a research program led by the University of Guelph. She also managed the research programs of the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, U of G’s partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. She was the Director of Operations and Farm Succession Program Manager at FarmStart from 2008-2015 and was the founding Executive Director of the Ontario Farmland Trust before that. With decades of board governance experience, she brings leadership in not-for-profit finance, HR, and partnership development to the EFAO Board.
Denise Miller is the founder of Revitalizing our Sustenance, Digital Archivist for the Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo Private School, and a Wildlife & Habitat Intern for the Carolinian Canada Coalition. She lives in Brantford, Ontario but grew-up in Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, a Hodinsoh:ni: (Haudenosaune) community. She is from the Cayuga Nation and Wolf Clan.
During the early pandemic Denise created Revitalizing Our Sustenance, a youth-led project to establish healthier outlets for youth and to encourage a decolonizing way of living. The project gave her something to live and work for. Farming and getting back to the land helped with her intergenerational addiction issues and mental health, and she is confident that recovering land, plant, and cultural knowledge can help indigenous peoples re-learn their identities. Denise’s father is a second-generation farmer, and her great-great-grandfather Sam Green originally farmed on the land where the project now sits. Denise aspires to be a community person like Sam: to be an inclusive farmer that helps others, and stewards the land with compassion.
Brett Israel farms in Wellington County as part of 3Gen Organics Family Farm. Along with his parents and grandparents, Brett farms 750 acres of certified organic cropland and raises organic pigs as part of their farrow to finish swine herd. Brett is committed to biological, regenerative agriculture and is passionate about the interaction of livestock and diverse cropping systems.
Celeste is the founder of The Conscious Farm Kitchen and Slow Growing Business Consulting, in Grey County/ Guelph. She has been an active member of EFAO and presented at the 2021 EFAO Conference on the topic of business management and income diversification. She has been farming, in some capacity, for over four years. She and her partner purchased a farm in Grey County in 2021, where they grow vegetables, flowers, and operate their farm-to-table food business, The Conscious Kitchen, which is in its 4th year of business. They also run a consulting & coaching business where they help small-scale farmers & food business owners with sales, marketing, and finances.
Celeste is a young, queer, mixed-race black farmer, and is cognizant that much of the EFAO membership share one or more of these identities. Celeste has also served on the Board of Eat Local Grey Bruce, a farm-based grocery delivery coop.
Brent Klassen and his wife Val Steinmann have lived at Heartwood Farm in Erin, Ontario since moving from Toronto 14 years ago. During that time, they’ve raised a variety of grass-fed livestock, made maple syrup, and planted fruit and nut orchards. In 2015, Brent explored cider-making as a way of utilizing some of what the orchards produce. From there, Heartwood Farm & Cidery was born and now produces a variety of hard ciders that are commercially available at Heartwood’s farm store, a few farmers’ markets, and at selected local restaurants. Prior to establishing the cidery, Brent was the founding partner of a couple marketing firms: Blue North Strategies and Blue ID.
Annette Peltier-Flamand is from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in northern Ontario. She is trained as a graphic designer, and previously ran her own graphic design business, ABORDIGITAL. After a major power outage in 2003, Annette began to take steps to become less reliant on outside sources for heat, food, and water, and rekindled her relationship with agriculture.
In 2020 Annette received her Horticulture Certificate and was offered employment as the Gardening Program Coordinator for Wiikwemkoong. She is now working toward a Horticulture Diploma and continues to work for Wiikwemkoong as the Agricultural Resources Management Coordinator. In addition to the gardening program, she is responsible for the backyard chicken program, food preservation education, band garden management, a beef cattle initiative, the Wiikwemkoong 4-H group, community support services (assisting high school greenhouse) and other training opportunities.
Annette is aware of the many obstacles that face Indigenous people who wish to practice agriculture, including a lack of education opportunities, capital, and good land (in many First Nation communities, the good farmland was kept for the settlers). Low self esteem, social issues, government regulations and other systemic barriers are also in play. Annette believes her knowledge and experience in these areas will greatly enhance her contributions to the EFAO Board of Directors.
Annette is also a Master Gardener (Algoma group) and board member for the Indian Agriculture Program of Ontario.
Jennifer Forde is the founder of Courtyard Farmers Market and Scarborough Farmers’ Markets, Red Onion Events, and Vision Quest Event Management. She has been managing farmers markets for more than a decade, including the Nathan Phillips Square and North York Farmers’ Markets, two of the oldest seasonal markets in the city. Jennifer was recently appointed the Market Manager of the Junction Farmers’ Market and also managed the Weston Farmers’ Market (2018 season).
As a BIPOC Market Manager, Jennifer’s mission is to work with family-owned farms (urban & rural), food businesses operated by BIPOC communities, women and entrepreneurs in career transitions and entrepreneurs whose business plan has a philanthropic aim. In 2021, Jennifer delivered four markets in the Scarborough area and has access to and supports more than 75 local entrepreneurs.
The aims of the Courtyard and Scarborough Farmers’ Markets are to bring local, fairly priced, culturally appropriate, farm-fresh, produce and artisanal products to diverse, Scarborough and Greater Toronto Area communities, in the spirit of fun, wellness and safety! The goal is to introduce markets to suburban, racialized communities that historically are ignored by Farmers’ Market developers.
In 2021 Jennifer was a Farmer in the inaugural season of the Malvern Urban Farm! Jennifer was led to farming due in part to her personal interest/experience and work as a Farmers’ Market Manager. Jennifer has a firsthand appreciation of the difficulties many families face accessing and affording nutrient dense, clean, local food.
Katrina McQuail, with assistance from her husband Ben and support from other family members, owns and operates Meeting Place Organic Farm. They raise certified organic pastured pigs, grass-fed cattle, meat chickens and laying hens. They farm with Suffolk-Punch draft horses, have a few quail, some ducks and an old apple orchard from which they make their apple butter. They also have a pet pig named Pickle. They are committed to experiential and practical education for prospective farmers. Katrina is excited to be raising animals and growing food, contributing to regenerative agriculture, providing more nutritious and local food for her community and creating less unnecessary plastic waste. She is enjoying supporting the EFAO through serving on the board.
Ricardo Ramírez brings many years of experience in different countries, with the last 22 as an independent researcher and consultant based in Guelph, Ontario. He collaborates with other consulting teams in Ontario and internationally as a project evaluator, and providing training in strategic planning, evaluation and communication.
His first job after completing a degree in Crop Science (Guelph) was building a demonstration farm in Colombia and producing training materials with farmers. Later he worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and with several international agriculture projects. He was Associate Professor in Capacity Development and Extension for two years with the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph; and remains as Adjunct Professor.