Jen Birchmore is OMAFRA’s Senior Geographical Information Specialist. She’s been involved in GIS with the agriculture and rural affairs ministry for almost 20 years.
Event Speaker 2020
Tourism Experience Development Specialist, BruceGreySimcoe (RTO7)
Kim has been with BruceGreySimcoe (RTO7) since April of 2015 and previously headed up the Tourism division at the County of Bruce. Throughout the span of her career, she has been leading, coaching andelbows deep in product and experience development.
Seeing the big picture, collaborating with others and telling your story are a few of Kim’s main philosophies when it comes to experience development. She has worked on large award- winning products like the Explore the Bruce Adventure Passport that span across an entire county and has helped small businesses develop their own experiences that will help add revenue to their bottom line. Her role as the Tourism Experience Development Specialist has her working with other regional tourism organizations, municipalities, destination marketing organizations, and individual businesses to create amazing things for people to do when they travel.
Kim brings a background in business administration and a flair for creative marketing. Although Kim is an “import” to Bruce County, she has fully immersed herself in its culture, complete with rubber boots and a plaid jacket.
Farm Credit Canada, Ag Transition Specialist
Jeff recently joined FCC as their Ontario Ag Transition Specialist. Before coming to FCC he spent 14 years in his family’s business which specialized in providing farm transition advice to other family businesses. Over that span Jeff was involved in over 450 farm transition plans in eastern Canada. He also engaged in continuing his education through completing multiple programs and courses ultimately attaining designation as a Family Enterprise Advisor through the University of British Columbia, becoming a trained Mediator & Facilitator, and graduating from the SuccessCare Program. Since 2005 Jeff has been a member of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors.
Jeff’s family keeps him busy in the rinks and at the soccer pitches for most of his off time.
Youngfield Farms Ltd., Nestleton, ON
Brian DeJong and his son-in-law, Alex Heroux, are part of a bigger team responsible for managing and operating Youngfield Farms Ltd in Durham Region. The business has been recognized for several distinguishing awards and accomplishments. They are winners of the Premier’s Award for Agri-food Innovation Excellence for developing Canada’s first vertical tillage tool.
CCA Advanced Ag Systems LLC
Tom Kilcer grew up on a dairy farm in Columbia County, New York. He earned an AAS in Agronomy from SUNY Cobleskill and a BS in Fisheries Science from Cornell, and worked on environmental impact studies for Peach Bottom and Indian Point Nuclear plants. In 1976 he obtained a second BS in Agronomy from Iowa State. For 33 years he was the multi-county Field Crop and Soils Educator; and Program Leader for Agriculture at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rensselaer County, NY. In 2009 Tom made the move from Extension to private consulting, with focus on forage research and education in close cooperation with University and Extension specialists. Much of Tom’s effort is to develop alternative crops, rotations, and harvest systems to support high forage dairy diets that enable Northeast farms to compete nationally and globally. He continues his outreach to improve agriculture by sending a free electronic newsletter to over 1000 CCA advisors, agribusiness, and farmers in the northeast and has articles in numerous dairy /fieldcrop agriculture magazines. Hundreds of seminars on his forage crops research have been presented across the US and in Canada and on YouTube.
P.Ag. CCA-ON, Organic Consultant Inc.
Ruth is an advisor, mentor and collaborator to farmers, land managers and communities. From field to plate, Ruth connects the importance of understanding ‘soil first’ solutions. Ruth completed a BSc. in Agriculture and MSc. in Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. Ruth has strong bonds to agriculture and rural communities, living most of her life in southwestern Ontario. From 1992 to 2011, Ruth co-owned a mixed cropping/multi species grazing operation. In 2005, Ruth established her independent consulting company and has provided services to a diversity of farms, businesses, and researchers, focused on organic and regenerative systems. Ruth’s passion is soil health and serving others to deepen our understanding of the how, what, when, where, and why of regenerative agriculture and community systems. In 2017, Ruth cofounded an emergent soil health project with farmers, community members, and citizen scientists in Erin, Ontario. The work of the Soil Health Coalition offers a framework for the regeneration of ourselves, our landscapes, and our communities. Ruth’s mission is to collaborate with individuals and organizations in the development of knowledge system and processes that expands our relationships with agro-ecosystems we steward.
Business Analysis & Cost of Production Specialist, 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 19 years. He has led several benchmarking projects with Ontario dairy, beef and sheep producers and developed a benchmarking report using the Ontario Business Risk Management Program data.
Before joining OMAFRA, John worked in agricultural lending with the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board. John has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business from the University of Guelph and grew up on a farrow-to-finish hog operation outside of Strathroy, Ontario.
Poechman Family Farm, Walkerton, ON
Gerald Poechman was the first egg producer in Canada to be Certified Organic and has been a trail-blazer since that time. He was one of the founding members of Ontarbio which went on to become Organic Meadows and was a key player in getting Organic eggs introduced to the grocery stores.
Kirsty Stevenson talks the talk of small business directly and informatively. Kirsty has been an entrepreneur throughout her business career. Based on her own experiences she launched KIRSTO to provide big advice to small business.
Kirsty has become an expert in marketing for small business, solopreneurs and not-for-profits. Her seminars and workshops provide practical advice and strategies to get measurable results. She is an excellent communicator and uses many pertinent and motivating real-life examples in her presentations.
Grey Dufferin Community Pasture
Michael Swidersky graduated with an agriculture diploma from the University of Guelph in 1998. He farms with his wife Amber and two teenage children in Melancthon Township in north Dufferin County. Their farm business consists of a commercial flock of annual pasture lambing ewes, custom grazing groups of steers and heifers and a cut flower business which is operated by Amber. 100% of their farm is perennial pasture with no hay or crops grown. A particular interest of Mike’s is intensive grazing and extensive pasture management. He has managed the local community pasture (Grey Dufferin Community Pasture) for the past 8 years. In 2019 a total of 800 steers and heifers as well as 300 ewes and their lambs were grazed.