Staff & Board

Staff Members

heather.ohara (@) bcfarmersmarket.org

Heather joined the BCAFM in August of 2016 and brings over 10 years of experience in non-profit and social enterprise leadership to her position as Executive Director. Although originally from Manitoba, where her family has deep farming roots, Heather has called BC home since 2000.

As an entrepreneur and food lover at heart, Heather believes deeply in farmers’ markets and small-scale farmers as a critical force in our regional food system. She has worked with a variety of business, non-profit and charitable organizations, and loves to bring strategic thinking and entrepreneurial resourcefulness to make creative ideas come to life. For 8 years, Heather served as executive director of Potluck Café Society, an award-winning social enterprise that creates jobs and provides healthy, fresh food for people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

peter (@) bcfarmersmarket.org

Peter’s first connection to farming began when he was 12 years old, as a potato picker in Northern Maine. Peter is a founder of the Surrey Urban Farmers Market, which created a locally-funded nutrition coupon program. In BC, Peter has worked with the Certified Organic Associations of BC, the BC Health Living Alliance and the Surrey-White Rock Food Action Coalition on a number of projects. Peter has been on staff with a Member of Parliament and a Member of the Legislative Assembly. He also worked as a Project Coordinator with Peace Brigades International’s projects in Nepal and Sri Lanka and as a Training Coordinator with Hostelling International in the United States. He has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations/Mass Communications, Boston University. Peter lives in New Westminster with his partner, Colleen and their daughter Rory.

tahlia (@) bcfarmersmarket.org

Tahlia hails from Perth, Western Australia, and joined the BCAFM team in May 2018. There, she worked in the public sector for six years, the most recent two which were spent at the Ministry of Health. While Tahlia really enjoyed her job there, she has always been interested in joining the agriculture sector as she is passionate about environmental sustainability and food security. This led her to her new home of Vancouver as there are much more opportunities in this city! Tahlia is excited to be part of the BCAFM team, and is happy that she still gets a crossover of public health and agriculture working on the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program. In her spare time, Tahlia can be found doing yoga, enjoying this beautiful city, cooking (or more likely eating), and going to comedy shows.

meredith (@) bcfarmersmarket.org

Meredith grew up in rural Nova Scotia, lived in Toronto, Calgary and Dublin before settling down in Vancouver to raise a family. She is a mother of three children and spends her time volunteering with many organizations that her children are involved in and also helps prepare family meals once a month at Ronald McDonald House. She works part time with the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets and also with the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. She has an affinity for the outdoors and loves back country camping, kayaking, hiking and skiing.

gabrielle (@) bcfarmersmarket.org

Gabrielle joined the BCAFM in July 2019 for a period of 14 months. Interested by the interdependence of health, nature and global environmental issues, Gabrielle has completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Concordia University and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Health at University of Montreal. Her recent studies in Community Economic Development has brought her to deepen her understanding of how local food systems are powerful to support vibrant, inclusive and collaborative communities. She has worked in the non-profit sector for the past five years and more recently was working as the Communications Coordinator at Food Secure Canada. Her passion for cooking earthy and colourful dishes, and baking with seasonal fruits has been inherited from several family members. As Gabrielle recently moved in Vancouver for a period of one year, her free time will be dedicated to discovering as many BC farmers’ markets as possible, enjoying the outdoors, and exploring the vast variety of mountain biking trails that BC has to offer.

tess (@) bcfarmersmarket.org

Ever passionate about the intersections between community, food, waste and climate, Tess has actively pursued social and environmental transformation since 2012 in Alberta and Ontario. This has involved completing her Bachelor of Arts in Environment & Urban Sustainability at Ryerson University in 2019. Concomitantly, she was ignited by the spirit of farmers’ markets and avidly dug into the role of market manager for two years at the Junction Farmers Market in Toronto. An adventurer seeking to combine these experiences with her love of nature and involvement in leadership training, event waste management, urban farming, vermiculture, community gardening, and civic engagement, Tess has now crossed the Great Divide to Vancouver with her partner, Mitch and dog, Dash, and looks forward to supporting the local foodscape and farmers’ markets with BCAFM. Along with these many passions and pursuits, Tess can also be found reading or writing at her local cafe, hiking in both urban and natural environments, tending to her plants, pickling something, or attending a house concert.

 

Board Members

president@bcfarmersmarket.org

Vickey is passionate about local food, farmers, governance and community. From building a community garden at the University of Victoria while completing her undergrad degree (Environmental Studies and Political Science) to working with Farmers Markets she has been working hard to grow both Farmers’ Markets and farmers in the Valley. She currently resides in the fabulous Village of Cumberland with her husband and two boys. Her volunteer experience includes 4 years on the board of the Cumberland Community Schools Society (CCSS), and currently a member of the Village of Cumberland Advisory Planning Committee. In 2014 her work with the CCSS led to being elected as a trustee for School District 71.

Since then Vickey has been elected to the Board of Directors for First Credit Union, as well as being elected as a councillor in the Village of Cumberland.

After graduating from high school Jim worked nights in a mill and attended university during the day. Jim was involved in community activities and served as a director on two credit union boards. From that experience Jim developed the skills that allowed him to start a small, family business that he is still involved with today. Originating in the forest industry, the business focusses on using the land sustainably. In the last five years Jim and his wife Pauline have developed a unique market selling pure birch syrup which is used by some of Canada’s top chefs.

Jim has experience in government relations at all levels and has served on various boards and committees. Jim acquired governance experience as a past director of one of Canada’s largest credit unions. With his past employment, Jim was responsible for project design, management, human resources, and risk assessment. Jim also has degrees in political science and accounting from UBC and has many years’ experience putting these into practice at various organizations and non-profits. Most recently, Jim has been a director on the board of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM). Jim is also on the board of directors of a BC Housing associated society in New Hazelton, and the provincial BC Non-Profit Housing Association.

Jim believes that volunteer organizations need representation from people who have experienced the effects of poorly planned growth. Jim was born in Surrey and lived on a small farm before Surrey became a parking lot. Jim was involved with drafting the policy that led to the formation of the Agricultural Land Commission. He moved up to Northern BC in the late 1980’s and obtained a crown land agricultural lease to develop a farm in the Kispiox Valley. Jim enjoys putting his practical experience, education and skills to use on the BCAFM board of directors to support the strategic direction and growth of farmers’ markets across BC.

Patricia’s interest in farmers’ markets began when she had a small part-time organic farm. While working for a seed company, she became familiar with many of the farms in BC, and volunteered with the Vancouver Farmers Markets for two seasons. When she moved to Victoria, she had to leave her farm, but just couldn’t give up the soil – so she volunteers at a local organic farm. She has been on the staff of the Moss Street Farmers Market in Victoria for nine years, four as Assistant Manager, and two as Manager.

Patricia’s work experience includes bookkeeping, human resources, and payroll, with much experience in event planning, organizing, graphic design and computer support. She has served on the board of directors of a large community orchestra during a difficult transition. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, a minor in Music, and is a weaver.

As a person who has been involved in farming and farmers’ markets, she has the passion and conviction about the importance of local organic produce.

laura (@) eatlocal.org

Laura seeks to re-establish connections between people, places and their food. Before joining Vancouver Farmers Markets in 2010, Laura led multi-stakeholder community development projects across Canada with Katimavik and engaged Vancouver citizens in urban forest restoration with Evergreen. She is a facilitator, problem-solver, and systems thinker who delights in getting her hands dirty to change the food system. She is most excited about working on a provincial level to ensure that young people are able to choose farming as viable lifestyle and that farmers markets remain economically sound for years to come.

Dad loved his garden. He never really talked about it, he would just go out and water the plants. It wasn’t a really big garden, but it would take him hours. Now I get it. I have evolved into a compulsive farmer. Or at least a farmer with delusions of greatness – of feeding the world – but I “get” what drives a person to submit themselves to the brutalities of eking a living from stone. I am that I am. Growing up in Ontario, I was taught that you grow up and get a job then retire to maybe do those things you wish you did when you were young and able. So it was that when I moved to British Columbia I surrendered myself to destiny and pursued my higher education at UCFV in the Fraser Valley – an amazing school with a fantastic agricultural program. Unfortunately, my degree was in Computer Science, but how was I to know? I mean, what kind of retirement does a farmer look forward to? I have been a vendor at farmers’ markets for about ten years now and am currently serving as President of the Sechelt Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market. We are a large market in a small community, and I have enjoyed the challenges and rewards of helping to guide the market towards success.
James has ten years experience as a small scale organic vegetable farmer and farm manager in the Kootenays and in Delta. He has also been a vendor at farmers’ markets in the Lower Mainland. He was Executive Director at the Sharing Farm in Richmond for four years where he managed staff, liaised with board, raised funds, and developed projects in collaboration with municipal staff and council. James has worked and volunteered in the non-profit sector for many years and currently manages a greenhouse and its growing operations, and project manages infrastructure development projects. He contributes to the evolution of the local farmers’ market through the Creston Valley Food Action Coalition Society, raises funds, and contributes to staff development.
Rubina is a former lawyer and graduate from the London School of Economics with a deep interest in food practices and culture. She envisions a community that is connected in an everyday sense with its food and by food. As a co-founder of Food Lens Consulting, Rubina works with communities to create low-waste circular food systems with the goal of ensuring that food is used to its highest and best use.​ ​Rubina has been on the boards of several organizations, including the Royal Roads University (2008-2013), where she served as chair of the Governance & Nominating Committee. From 2010- 2017 Rubina served on the Steering Committee of the North Shore Table Matters Network. She is currently a member of the Coalition for Healthy School Food (Vancouver chapter), an advocacy group calling for a universal school meal program in Canada.
James has been an Apiculturist and a vendor at farmers’ markets in the North Okanagan for over 30 years, supplying the community with local honey and honeybee products. Having built up a successful family farm business with all of the challenges related to production, processing and marketing of agricultural commodities he knows the importance and value of direct sales to customers at farmers’ markets. Three terms on municipal council provided an insight into working with divergent points of view and coming up with creative solutions. Consultancies overseas in East Africa, Bhutan, the Philippines and Vietnam have added to his global perspective on agriculture. As a board member of the BCAFM, James is looking forward to contributing towards the further development of the local food economy.
I, along with my family, have been a part of the Quesnel Farmers Market since 1995 and the McLeese Lake Farmers Market since 2016. I, like so many other children, spent my youth growing up in a farmer’s market community. After graduation, I briefly left the market to pursue a BA in English, before returning to raise my family. I am heavily involved in my community and look forward to sharing my rural roots with my daughter. I am very invested in my local markets and therefore the BCAFM. I have experience as both executive and director positions with local community societies, as well as several other groups. One of my greatest strengths is as a generational ambassador within my aging farming community. I am hardworking, technologically capable, innovative and a problem solver.
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