© Prairie Organics 2020: Think Whole Farm | Brandon, Manitoba, March 5-6, 2020

SPEAKERS

BIOS

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SCOTT BEATON

Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation

Scott works for Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation doing easements, wetland restoration, other duties as assigned. In his spare time, Scott operates a 640 acre organic farm near Rosser, MB, including 120 acres of conservation lands. The remaining acres are dedicated to  crop production using livestock as a management tool to manage green manures, crop residue, etc.

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ALEXANDER BOERSCH

Re-Gen Ag Solutions

photo credit Manitoba Cooperator

Alexander Boersch graduated from the University of Purpan (Toulouse, France) with a Master's of Agriculture in 2015. He worked for 2.5 years as a grain trader for DG Global before returning to the family farm in the summer of 2017. Since then, Alex has been farming 5000 acres with parents Elke & Andreas Boersch where they have been transitioning 1500 acres into organic since 2017. Alex also owns a small company (Re-Gen Ag Solutions Inc.), started in 2018 which imports and sells weed management tools, biologicals and fertilizer enhancers.

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NICK BOUNDY

Boundy Farms

photo credit Manitoba Cooperator

Nick farms with his family near Boissevain, MB, on a farm which gained organic certification in 2016. Nick has a mobile seed cleaner and has experience cleaning seeds and separating intercrops. 

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IAN & JO-ANNE CUSHON

Moose Creek Organic Farm

Ian and Jo-Anne Cushon are co-owners of Moose Creek Organic Farm. The farm is in Southeast Saskatchewan in the thin black soil zone on class F and G soils. The primary crops grown are wheat, oats, flax, hemp, and alfalfa seed. Ian started farming in 1981 and began converting to organic farming in 1985. Ian was a former president of the Saskatchewan Organic Development Council and a former advisory board member of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada. Jo-Anne has a Bachelor's of Science Degree and was a former fisheries biologist for Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management.  Jo-Anne joined Ian and the farm in 1999.  They have two children, Liam 19 and Anna 17.

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JIM ECKBERG

General Mills

Jim is a Research Agronomist at General Mills working on sustainability of agricultural systems including oats and dairy. He engages the farm community in regenerative agriculture practices that improve farm profitability, soil health, biodiversity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Jim completed an M.S. (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) in ecology and a Ph.D. (University of Minnesota) in agroecology.     

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MARTIN ENTZ

University of Manitoba

Martin Entz is a professor in the Department of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba. He received his Ph.D. 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. He leads the Glenlea Long-Term Rotation Study – Canada’s oldest organic versus conventional farming systems experiment, which has completed 28 years.

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JOHN GAVLOSKI

Manitoba Agriculture & Resource Development

John is an entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development in Carman, MB. He conducts monitoring programs for major insect pests and provides information on insects, both beneficial and potential pests, to farmers, agronomists and those working in agriculture. John does numerous presentations and information updates for agronomists and farmers, and co-produces a weekly Manitoba Crop Pest Update during the spring and summer. He has worked for Manitoba Agriculture since 1997.

John has a Bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and a M.Sc. in entomology from the University of Guelph. He completed his Ph.D. in the department of entomology at the University of Manitoba.

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BRUCE HARDY

The Myera Group

Bruce has leveraged his expertise and success in the field of applied technology research to build a unique company called The Myera Group. Myera is a leader in building intelligent and sustainable health solutions. The company integrates multiple ag-businesses to reduce waste and improve efficiency. 

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BOBBI HELGASON

University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Helgason is a soil microbiologist. She received her Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Saskatchewan in 2010 and was a Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada from 2010-2018 when she joined the University of Saskatchewan. Her research program focuses on how soil microorganisms interact with climate and agricultural management practices to affect soil functioning and crop productivity.

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SAM HITCHCOCK TILTON

Lakeshore Technical College

Sam is a Horticulture Instructor at Lakeshore Technical College,  near Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He  earned a Master’s in Horticulture from Michigan State University, where he studied and conducted research on precision weeding tools. Sam was the Midwest Sales Representative for KULT-Kress precision cultivation tools. There he designed weeding machines for all types of crops, developed new tools, and traveled through Europe and the U.S. visiting farms. He writes for Vegetable Grower’s News and Growing for Market and organizes the annual Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day. 

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TYLER KEET

Keet's Chick-Inn

Tyler, along with his family owns and operates a diversified broiler chicken and organic grain operation west of Saskatoon, SK.  Being relatively new to the typical prairie grain farming - having only started in 2014 - he is always trying to learn more about his operation and optimize things in any way he can. He enjoys working in the shop and is frequently attempting to improve his equipment. Tyler utilizes his degree in Agricultural and Bio-resource Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan to make simple improvements to equipment to better suit machinery for his operation. 

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CHRISTOPHER KELLY-BISSON

SeedChange

Christopher (He/Him) is a Policy Analyst for the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. He is a Ph.D. candidate studying Canadian political economy at the University of Ottawa. Christopher's research area is farmland financialization in Ontario. He has also published analyses on agrarian social movements and institutions in Canada. Christopher is a proud Franco-Ontarian, who continued his family's agrarian heritage by co-founding Green's Creek Farm in 2014 in Ottawa, where he managed an organic, regionally-adapted vegetable seed breeding program.

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BRYCE LOBREAU

Pristine Prairie Organics

Bryce is co-owner and operator of Pristine Prairie Organics near Pipestone, MB. The farm manages one of the largest organic beef herds in the country and produces organic grains as cash crops. 

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AMY NIKKEL

Adagio Acres

Amy Nikkel is the owner of a small organic farm in the Interlake area of MB. Since 2011, her farm has been growing  an alternative variety of oats for Manitoba porridge pots. Oats are milled on-farm and sold direct-to-consumer and through retail and food service channels across Western Canada. It is the elusive cache of wild mushrooms or the small branches of edible berries in early winter, however, that inspired Amy to consider what food security means. Re-examining our approach to the food we eat is a powerful way to forge connections between farmers, eaters and the land that sustains us. This belief, along with a desire to find ways to decrease on-farm food loss, inspired Amy to start a unique Grain CSA in 2018.

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JEFF ODGERS

Odgers Farm

Jeff Odgers grew up on a mixed family farm near Spy Hill, SK. Jeff always had a passion for the farm and hockey. He lived out his dream job playing 12 seasons and over 800 games in the NHL.
During his playing career he played for the Sharks, Bruins, Avalanche and Atlanta Thrashers (Now the Winnipeg Jets). Along the way he picked up 75 goals, 70 assists and 2364 penalty minutes.
When he left hockey, Jeff returned to the family farm where he farms with his wife Lynn and son Dakota. Although retired, Jeff's parents have a very active role on the farm. It has been certified organic since 2003; now a 5th generation farm.

 

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GARRY RICHARDS

Richards Family Farm & Livestock

Garry, his wife Lynn and their three children Rebekah, Evan, and Caroline, have a mixed grain and cattle farm near Bangor, Southeast of Melville, SK. Garry and Lynn came back to Garry’s family farm in 2000. At that time Garry was a pharmacist, Lynn was a nurse and it was their goal in the first few years to determine whether or not the farm would be viable without long-term subsidies from off-farm income. The farm was a straight grain operation in 2000, but beef cattle were added in 2002. In 2003, Garry and Lynn took a Holistic Management course and their first child, Rebekah, was born. In 2009 they started growing cover crop cocktails in an effort to become more sustainable. They strive to integrate the cattle and grain enterprises on their farm to achieve healthy land, healthy people and healthy profits.

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DON ROURKE

Rourke Farms

Originating from the small community of Minto, MB, Don began farming in 2008 after completing college in Heavy Duty Mechanics and Agri-business.  Rourke Farms began transitioning 4000 acres to organic in 2017, after operating conventionally since 1980. Don’s skills gained in years of operating farm equipment, along with his Red Seal Ag Tech have been valuable to evaluate, improvise and build equipment to battle weeds in organic farming systems.   

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CHARLEY SPRENGER

PAMI

Charley Sprenger, B.E., M.Sc., received her degrees in Biological Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan with a focus on biomass handing and processing. Since joining PAMI in 2017, she has been instrumental in their grain storage research program aimed at providing producers with the tools and knowledge to make informed decisions on their farms. Charley also leads a variety of projects on the agronomics and logistics of on-farm practices. Her family raises cattle near Rivers, MB.

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CODY STRAZA

Uplands Organics

Cody was born and raised on a farm in the Wood Mountain area. He completed an engineering degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Agricultural and BioResource Engineering. After graduation he worked in the manufacturing sector for several years before returning back to farm. One of Cody’s strengths is in machinery design and he enjoys working with and improving the equipment on the farm. Using many of the skills he obtained through his previous experience working as an engineer, Cody has applied the concept of lean manufacturing to the farm to improve productivity. 

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BEN STUART

Prairie Land & Cattle Co.

Originally from New Zealand, Ben moved to Canada 12 years ago. He and his family are regenerative farmers operating ranches in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Cover crops are now a big part of the farms' cash crop and livestock production systems; having these two integrated helps build resilience. Over the past few years, the farms are moving more towards organic.

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IRIS VAISMAN

Organic Alberta & SeedChange

Iris is the Prairie Regional Coordinator for the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and the Grains Program Manager at Organic Alberta. In these roles, she has the joy and priviledge of partnering with farmers, reseachers, industry, government and various stakeholders to work on diverse projects. The projects aim to contribute to the resiliency of seed systems and organic grain productions systems. Before taking on these roles, Iris worked at the University of Manitoba as a research technician, working on research that included participatory plant breeding, cover crops, organic no-till, and soil fertility. Iris has an M.Sc. from the University of Manitoba in organic agronomy and an Hon. B.Sc. from the University of Toronto in Ecology.

 

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JOE WECKER

Wecker Farms

Joe, along with his wife Wendy, their three children and his parents, operate a certified organic grain farm in the Regina Plains. After many years of conventional farming, the Wecker's saw the damage that was being done to the soil and ecosystem and made the choice to work alongside nature in an organic cropping system. Currently, they use a system of Nutrition Farming where they strive to optimize the health of their plants by applying micronutrients as needed. They also use organic soil amendments, such as compost extract, fish fertilizer, kelp, molasses and humates to stimulate the biology in the soil. They have a diverse crop rotation that includes up to 13 different crops, many of which are intercropped. They also use companion crops and cover crops on nearly the entire farm.