Northern Ontario Ag Conference
NOFIA would like to thank all of the speakers, sponsors, and attendees who made the second annual NOAC a huge success!
Read more about the 2020 conference here, and stay tuned for next year!
Registration for the Northern Ontario Ag Conference 2020 is now open!
Registration for the conference is $80 per person, which includes lunches on February 12 and 13 and the banquet on February 12. Hotel accommodations, if required, should be made individually. The website for the conference venue can be found here.
Contact Cameron Ford at or 705-647-4782 to register. Payment can be made in cash or cheque at the conference itself. Cheques can be made out to Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance.
Barry Potter, OMAFRA North Team
Presentation Title: "Tools for Unlocking Northern Ag Development"
Barry Potter, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs North Region Agricultural Development Advisor, works with northern advisors, agriculture organizations and farmers to promote the development of farming in the north. Barry is based out of New Liskeard, Ontario. He grew up in the north. Prior to joining OMAFRA, he worked in ag services sales and management. He has a B.Sc in Animal Science from the University of Guelph. His focus is on livestock production, including beef, dairy and sheep. Part of his work includes organizing workshops and presenting on livestock issues across the north. He contributes articles to magazines such as Ontario Beef, Virtual Beef, and the Milk Producer. Barry, his wife Liz, and family also run a purebred beef breeding operation at Earlton. Follow him on Twitter at @potterbarry.
Sara Epp, University of Guelph
Presentation Title: "Perception Versus Reality: Demystifying Agricultural Barriers in Northern Ontario"
Sara Epp is an Assistant Professor of Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. She received her BA and MA in Geography from Brock University and completed her PhD in Rural Studies at the University of Guelph. Sara has worked extensively with rural communities in southern and northern Ontario, examining issues related to farmland loss, agricultural viability, land use conflicts and social aspects of rural life. Sara has previously worked in municipal land use planning and as a private consultant for a variety of rural and agricultural planning projects. Her current research interests include rural land use planning, agricultural systems, migration, and food security.
Mary Dawson-Cole, Regional Manager, MPAC
Mary Dawson-Cole has over 23 years of property assessment experience with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). She is currently the Municipal and Stakeholder Relations Regional Manager responsible for Northern Ontario, and is a provincial lead for MPAC's Agricultural Portfolio. Mary holds an AIMA with the Institute of Municipal Assessors (IMA) and has served as the past District Director. She is a Laurentian University Graduate, Hons BA - Law and Justice/Political Science, and in 2012 she completed a Senior Leadership Development Program at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Mary is a Board Member of Health Science North Foundation, committed to inspiring donors to raise funds to support health care excellence through purchasing essential equipment, building facilities and advancing life-saving research.
Eric Blondin, Three Forks Farm
Eric Blondin and his partner Peggy-Gene Baillie operate Three Forks Farms, a certified organic farm in Warren Ontario. They serve direct and wholesale markets in Sudbury & North Bay with mixed vegetables, pasture-raised chicken and garden seeds. Before starting Three Forks Farm, Eric worked as the Produce & Meat Department Manager at Eat Local Sudbury where he honed his local food marketing skills while learning from farmers across the north. As a keen supporter local agriculture, Eric has continued to share his knowledge speaking at conferences across the province, as well as serving as board member of the Ecological Farmers of Ontario. Since starting Three Forks Farms, Eric has continually adapted and improved their operation to produce more food per labour hour through management techniques, infrastructure improvements and innovative tools to improve efficiency. Eric will share how they apply the Canadian Organic Standard in their operation, what they have done to increase production year over year and what tools have been game changers for their operations.
Peggy Brekveld, OFA
Peggy has served as VP and Director at Large at OFA for the last five years, and 3 additional years before that representing Northern Ontario. Peggy, her husband Gert and their five children operate Woodstar Farm – a family dairy farm operation near Thunder Bay.
Peggy is also Vice President of Agricultural Adaptation Council, a former president of the Thunder Bay Federation of Agriculture, and a Class 12 alumni of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program. She is a lifelong advocate for farming and food in Ontario. She loves to sing, exploring walking trails and showing off the natural beauty of her northern region to visitors. All in all, she feels very blessed in life.
Bob grew up on a mixed farm in southern Ontario. He is a retired Commercial and Ag Banker from New Liskeard where he, Gayle and family have called home since 1984. Subsequent to retirement from Scotiabank in 2005 he joined Ontario Federation of Agriculture as Member Service Rep for Northeastern Ontario retiring again in 2019. He has a wide range of board governance experience and experiences both as a volunteer and in his support role with OFA. His community involvement ranges from smaller volunteer groups such as Minor Hockey and Chamber of Commerce to larger not for profit boards such as Hospital, Children's Mental Health and District Health Council.
He was appointed to the Board of Directors of Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation in 2010 and continues to hold that position. He would say the most rewarding board experience was the Temiskaming International Plowing Match of 2009.
Tim Greer, LilleyBee Apiaries
in 1944 Harold Lilley first brought bees to Temiskaming. He came at the request of the provincial government to help with the growing demand for crop pollination. Harold instilled a love for the north in his family that continues on. Through the continued support of other local farms LilleyBee has been a part of Temiskaming agriculture for over 75 years. Their commitment to the area continues. Harold's granddaughter Kristina and her husband Tim Greer along with their son Jesse and his wife Jill run about 2000 hives for pollination and honey production. In 2012 they purchased a newer facility to house their honey extracting and packing equipment, in 2016 their son purchased his first home next door to the honey house, in 2017 they constructed an indoor wintering facility and warehouse for the bees. Their desire to continue to invest in the north is based on their sense of community, and optimism for what is possible in Northern Ontario.
Susantha Jayasundara, University of Guelph
Presentation Title: "Impact of Pasture and Forages on Soil Organic Carbon in the Great Clay Belt Region"
Susantha Jayasundara works in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph. He has extensive experience in research and analysis of the environmental impact associated with crop-livestock systems. He has published extensively on the topic of carbon footprint analysis of corn and dairy production. His current research involves assessing the impact of forage and pasture management on soil organic carbon and greenhouse gas emissions in the northern Ontario Great Clay Belt.