WHO WE ARE
Jen Atkins: Ecological Coordinator
Wearer of many hats, Jen Atkins’ past experiences range from species at risk ecologist, wildlife health biologist, veterinary technologist, equine massage therapist and ecological restorationist and surprisingly, all are interwoven together. She is a Registered Professional Biologist with the BC college of Applied Biology, and a Registered Veterinary Technologist. She has a passion for growing all things edible, connecting farmers to the ecology on their land and has a new obsession with sheep. Jen has worked on numerous farms here in Canada and overseas overseeing goats, pigs, chickens, horses and vegetable production. As the ecological coordinator, you can find her wandering the fields at Sandown, planning the rotational grazing program, counting critters, sampling water, tackling invasive plants and wishing she had sheep of her own. Oh, and she is ever so slowly working on her Master of Science at UVic researching how different farming practices influence soil health and biodiversity on Vancouver Island.
Lindsey Boyle: Board Director
Lindsey has proven business leadership experience in upper management. Over 10 years as Senior Vice President for The Sound, an insight, strategy and innovation agency, she grew the company from a start up to a team of 70 people with a global reach.
Lindsey also has proven experience in fundraising and community Food Growing Teaching & Learning. In her role with Growing Chefs! (growingchefs.ca) Lindsey has worked to expand the impact of the classroom program for children in grades 1-6 by building relationships with corporate donors and conducting research on the social impact of the program. Over her 6 years of commitment to the organization, Lindsey has helped Growing Chefs! grow 368 gardens and taught 9000 kids how to cook.
Lindsey is founder of the consulting firm Circular Citizen, teaching business people how to apply circular economy principles to create both food innovation opportunities and climate change solutions through food waste reduction and regenerative agriculture practices. As a result of her commitment to advancing the circular economy via Circular Citizen, Lindsey has recently been appointed a role as Senior Associate, One Earth (oneearthweb.org) and a role with One Planet Saanich (oneplanetsaanich.org)
Ian Bruce: Advisor
Ian grew up in Victoria and graduated from the University of Victoria in 1978 with a BSc in Marine Biology. For the next twenty years he worked as a professional biologist on the Island’s West Coast, leading projects studying salmon health and aquatic ecosystems. Ian returned to Greater Victoria and co-founded Peninsula Streams in 2002, so that he could continue sharing his first-hand knowledge of aquatic life and habitat restoration. He completed a UVic Restoration of Natural Systems Diploma in 2003, and since has successfully completed dozens of restoration projects on the Saanich Peninsula. He is currently Executive Coordinator for Peninsula Streams.
His consulting firm, Watershed Eco-logical Services Ltd., provides ecological and fisheries services to industry, government and First Nations. Ian is a registered professional biologist who is also adept at bringing together diverse groups of stakeholders.
Steve Duck: Director of Business Operations
Steve is an accomplished leader, mentor and facilitator who encourages people and organizations to design and develop their potential. Across public, private and non-profit sectors, he works with individuals and teams to establish strategic vision and adapt to the ever-changing environment. Steve specializes in the fields of hospitality & leisure, tourism and agriculture.
Linda Geggie: Advisor
Linda has been actively working on regional food system issues since the early 1990s. She has worked extensively with a wide range of individuals and groups and believes in collaboration as a meaningful path to getting results. In addition to her work with CRFAIR, Linda is a member of the Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission and Board Member of the BC Food Systems Network. In 2015 she was recognized by Food Secure Canada with the Cathleen Kneen Award for vision, leadership, and a commitment to grassroots activism in building a more just and ecological food system. She was also the Community Research Fellow with the University of Victoria's Institute for Studies and Innovation in Community University Engagement. Linda is an avid food grower and fisher.
Penny Gibbs: Board Director
Penny’s roots in North Saanich go back to the 1940’s on both her mother’s and father’s sides. Her interest in gardening was sparked by her grandmother and her uncle (the former growing white eggplant and gooseberries and the latter growing ground cherries in North Saanich in the ‘60’s, thereby hooking her on the possibilities of foods both unique and tasty). She joined the North Saanich Food for the Future Society in its inaugural year, and has been helping run the North Saanich Farm Market since its inception. She’s keenly excited about the possibilities that Sandown offers, from its forest to its boggy areas to its arable land, and the connections between all three of these with our community.
Dr. Ann Eastman: Board Director
Ann is a passionate advocate for sustainable agriculture and food systems on the Saanich Peninsula. She has a strong background in plant science - a B.Sc. in botany, M.Sc. in plant biochemistry, and a Ph.D. in plant physiology, and innovation experience in industry, government and academia. She served as the Manager for Emerging Sectors and then the Senior Manager for Innovation in the BC Ministry of Agriculture for eight years. Ann is a strong supporter of the Haliburton Community Organic Farm Society, serving as a volunteer director for five years and launching the EcoFarm School program. Ann was a member of the Sandown Transition Team that developed the transition plan from former racetrack to thriving community farm presented to the District of North Saanich Council in September 2018.
Stephen Heggen: Farm Manager
Steve is a first generation farmer who grew up on the Saanich peninsula. He has worked on organic farms around BC for more than a decade, most recently managing vegetable production for Fickle Fig in North Saanich. From a young age Steve has been fascinated with nature and has channeled that interest towards growing high quality food for his local community. He is experienced in managing commercial farming operations including greenhouse, hoop house, and field operations.
Chris Hildreth: Advisor
Chris has four years of experience producing and selling top quality gourmet salad mix for chefs in Victoria. His vision for TOPSOIL (topsoileatlocal.com) is to improve every aspect of our current industrialized food system from production, packaging, transportation, distribution and waste. His operation is highly successful and financially profitable and he leads a team of growers committed to ecologically beneficial food production. He believes business aspirations and healthy community choices are not mutually exclusive.
TOPSOIL aims to increase local food production in any community by providing a fully integrated modular farming system which will empower people through education, production and employment. Chris provides training services around how to implement, grow and operate a sustainable farming operation. Services include implementation of the farm system infrastructure, and educational seminars focused on but not limited to: farm design, farm management, farm operations, farm economics, marketing, distribution and sales.
Barbara Johnstone Grimmer, P Ag: Advisor
Barbara brings thirty years of experience in agriculture, animal production and nutrition. She is currently active in research communications and agricultural sustainability education and initiatives, especially with respect to climate change adaptation and mitigation. She is also experienced in hands-on farming producing grass fed lamb. Barbara is actively involved in farm organizations regionally, provincially and nationally: a member of the Poultry Science Association, Canadian Nutrition Society, BC Institute of Agrologists, BC Abattoir Association, BC Sheep Federation (BCSF), Inter Island Sheep Breeders Association, BC Farm Writers Association, and BC Hazelnut Growers. Barbara is a former board member of BCSF and of the Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF), past member of the Sheep Value Chain Roundtable, and past member of the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council.
Lindsay Keele: Board Director
Lindsay is an established and mid-career lawyer working in Business & trade, Transactions and General Practice in Vancouver.
Tayler Krawczwk: Advisor
Tayler is an ecological landscape designer, permaculture practitioner and project manager. Focusing on edible landscaping and climate-smart land development, he operates Hatchet & Seed, with his partner Solara Goldwynn. Tayler manages project logistics, completes open-access farm plans and works to ensure successful project delivery.
Dr. DeLisa Lewis: Board Director, Advisor
DeLisa has over 20 years experience with certified organic vegetable and flower farming, holds a PhD in agroecology and soils, and is an assistant professor in The University of British Columbia's Faculty of Land and Food Systems, focusing on teaching during the winter months and on-farm research through the summer. Together with family & a seasonal farm crew, DeLisa operates Green Fire Farm in the Cowichan Valley, a 40 acre farm which includes mixed market farm vegetables & fruits, pasture-raised pigs, beef cattle, hay production, and a small flock of laying hens. Sales are via Farmers Markets, direct and delivered weekly orders to regional customers, and to wholesale markets in Victoria, Nanaimo and Tofino. Her teaching, research and consulting focus on soil nutrient management, farm planning and new farmer training. DeLisa is a member of Islands Organic Producers Association and serves on the Accreditation Board of The Certified Organic Associations of BC, the Cedar Farmers Market Board of Directors, and the Agricultural Advisory Committee in her home district of North Cowichan.
Link to DeLisa’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgHEDDzOmI4
Mitchell Morse: The Fickle Fig
Growing up on a 75-cow dairy farm in upstate New York, Mitchell rediscovered his love for agriculture when he pursued his life dream of creating a farm-to-table bakery/bistro/farmers’ market eight years ago, having moved from Vancouver to the Saanich peninsula in 2012. On leased farmland, Mitchell now cultivates over 15 acres with a diversified array of farm products including honey, eggs, pork, lamb, wool, berries, fruit, and vegetables. Cheese making, fermentation, food preservation, and making value-added products from raw farm materials are all in his skill set, which he happily shares with others. Passionate about food security, he created The Fickle Fig Farm Market on Mills Road in North Saanich in March of 2015, having successfully completed almost four amazing years of steady growth as a local food hub.
Dr. Kent Mullinix: Advisor
As Director of the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, Dr. Mullinix oversees all of the Institute's research projects, two farm school programs, and other initiatives. Mullinix's research focuses on ecologically sound crop production, agriculture education programming, sustainable agriculture and food systems, and family-based agriculture revitalization as a foundational and integral element of sustainable society. Additionally Mullinix conceived and led the development of the B.A.Sc. Sustainable Agriculture degree at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and is now closely involved in its implementation. He also led the conceptualization and implementation of the Richmond Farm School and Tsawwassen First Nation Farm School. Mullinix is an Adjunct Professor in The Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia and serves on the editorial board of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal.
Rhianna Nagel: UVic Partnership
Rhianna currently works out of The University of Victoria's Division of Learning, Teaching, and Innovation as the community engaged learning (CEL) coordinator. In her role, she works with community, students, staff and instructors to develop opportunities that enhance student learning and community initiatives. This involves building capacity, supporting curricular development, strategic planning, matchmaking between intended learning outcomes and community interests, managing grants, sharing and celebrating efforts and achievements, and fostering reciprocal relationships.
Rhianna received a B.Sc from the Land and Food Systems program at The University of British Columbia and an MA from the Community-Based Research Lab in Geography at The University of Victoria. She also spent time living between Canada and Uruguay farming and working with community groups on a range of initiatives which were generally related to social and ecological well-being.
In addition to her work at The University of Victoria, Rhianna is the chair of the board of LifeCycles, a Victoria based organization that cultivates community health by connecting people with the food they eat and the land it comes from.
Jen Rashleigh: Director of Partner & Community Engagement
In the world of food production & community engagement, Jen brings over a decade of experience at Farmers on 57th which she founded in 2008. Farmers on 57th is an educational and productive community integrated farm in Vancouver. In this role she continues to work closely (now remotely) with partners as diverse as the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Coastal Health, South Vancouver Family Place, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, Coalition for People with Disabilities, University of British Columbia, Institute for Wellness. Farmers on 57th is financially self sustaining non profit & business hybrid, a pioneer in its field, and listed as an example of best practice in the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City strategy.
12 years as an educational documentary filmmaker taught her how to find the experts, listen deeply and learn, find the overarching narrative, and tell a good story—all tools that she brings to this modern-day agricultural project. Her excellence in this filmmaking was recognised in the six films she made for the Ministry of Children and Families, and the 7 years at the Ethnographic Film Unit of The University of British Columbia which she co-ran with Dr. Charles. Menzies. Her films focussed on resource use in British Columbia, the politics of fishing and sustainability, and best practices in foster care for aboriginal children.
Jen is the current coordinator of the North Saanich Flavour Trails festival, is one of two project leads for the Destination Greater Victoria’s federally funded agri-tourism initiative for the peninsula, and is part of the CRFAIR (Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable) team which works towards a robust, sustainable and just local food system.
Lauren Searle: Board Director
Lauren is a graduate of The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems and has always felt deep meaning in bridging community with good food. She worked as Business Development Manager with SPUD.ca for 5 years, and is now General Manager for the South Island FarmHub. She brings a thoughtful and nuanced approach to building both relationships and innovative strategies for business growth. Lauren has proven skills in sales & marketing, business analysis, stakeholder engagement, and professional networking. She understands the power of in-person connection as a way to build trusting relationships with everyone involved. Lauren is an avid adventure-seeker with a love of mountain biking and skiing.
Lorea Tomsin: Advisor
Lorea bought her first purebred, a Silver Down Suffolk from W&K Gould, when she was 12 years old. Lorea has been president of the Inter-Island Sheep Breeders Association since 2011, and recently stepped down after nine years as BC’s director on the board of the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association (CSBA). Lorea was one of three delegates who travelled to Mexico on behalf of the CSBA and Canadian Sheep Federation in 2016.. We are incredibly fortunate to have Lorea’s expertise and mentorship in our North Saanich farming community.
Evelyn Turner: Site Manager & Lead Mentor, Farmpreneur Program
Evelyn Turner's passion is agriculture and education. She began in greenhouses as a teenager, and has gone on to work in a wide variety of operations from large conventional orchards to cattle ranching to small-mixed farming. Her studies include horticultural certification at the University of Guelph and Environmental Studies and Biology at Carleton University. Evelyn served as head gardener for the City of Winnipeg and established an edible landscaping business. This is her seventeenth growing season.
Shannon Swan: Summer Student 2021
Shannon Swan is our summer student who is excited to begin the community garden project at the Sandown Centre! She grew up on a rural property in the East Kootenays where she developed a passion for growing, foraging, fermenting, cooking, and enjoying good food. Shannon has been involved in urban agriculture since a young age, and is currently a board member, weekly volunteer, and plot renter at the UVic Campus Community Gardens. Soon to enter her third year of Environmental Studies & Political Science with a minor in Public Administration, Shannon is passionate about applying her studies to advocate for increased food security and abundance on Vancouver Island!