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Christie is the Founder and Executive Director of FarmStart. She has extensive experience in program initiation and development, fund raising and coalition building. She also has experience and wide networks in both agriculture and the community food security sector. Christie has worked with farmers and farm leaders on and off farms in several countries. She worked for several years with FoodShare in Toronto, organizing the Field to Table Festival. She was a founding Board member of Local Food Plus.
Christie balances her time at FarmStart, with management support for her partner’s restaurant, Artisanale in Guelph and her busy, exhausting and loving kids.
Sri has a master’s degree in Capacity Development and Extension from the University of Guelph. He has worked in agriculture for twenty years, as a farmer, as an agricultural engineer engaged in soil conservation, and now as a Project Manager for FarmStart.
Sri immigrated to Canada in 2004. Prior to his work with FarmStart, Sri spent a year conducting research on migration and natural resource management dynamics in his native Southern India. He is a passionate student of traditional management practices in agriculture, and a proponent of integrating traditional approaches into modern farming methods. Sri is of the opinion that traditional and indigenous methods may hold the answers to issues like environmental sustainability and climate change.
Raised on a small farm in Nova Scotia, Melissa’s interest in food production began early when she came to realize that her barnyard friends eventually made their way to their dinner table.
She studied for one year at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College before moving to Ontario to complete degrees in Natural Resource Management (B.Sc.) and Land Resource Science (M.Sc.) at the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph.
Melissa has over ten years experience working with land trusts in Ontario, including seven years on the board of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance. Melissa was part of the group that formed the Ontario Farmland Trust in 2004 and was its Executive Director until 2008.
Ali works on developing training programs and resources for new farmers.
After completing a master’s degree in Agroecology from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ali spent three years running a market garden CSA with two friends. Having been a new farmer faced with the challenges of accessing relevant training and secure farmland, Ali feels very fortunate to be working on these issues with FarmStart. Her years of apprenticing and farming in southern Ontario have left her with a strong connection to the local farming community.
Growing up on a mixed subsistence and beef farm on Manitoulin Island, I spent my summers haying and fencing. Looking back at my experience being raised on a farm I see how it has greatly benefited my perceptions and life skills.
I have continued working in one form or another of agriculture for most of my life. After a stint of commercial beekeeping in Northern Alberta I came to see the social and environmental problems of current agricultural practices. Like many rural people I ended up moving to the city, but I still felt a need to stay connected with farming. I was lucky enough to find the opportunity to work on an organic vegetable CSA north of Hamilton where I was introduced to the importance of marketing as well as the growing of food to survive in the agricultural climate. I hope that I can bring my experiences to bear fruit as the McVean Farm Manager and for a prosperous and abundant season.
Ian’s first job was on a family-run dairy farm. For a young city boy this was total culture shock, but the farm life soon won him over and he’s remained involved in farming ever since. More recently, Ian has broadened his agricultural experience through participation on OMAFRA research projects and as an organic farm intern. However, most of his lessons have been learned the hard way through all the mistakes he’s made running his own grass-fed beef farm. Currently he is finishing his master’s degree in Soil Science at the University of Guelph.
With a degree in Archaeology from Wilfrid Laurier University, Cherie has always felt that the soil is full of treasure, something that FarmStart farmers are proving everyday.
Having supported CSA programs for over a decade, Cherie has become an enthusiastic advocate of local sustainable agriculture and finds it to be a great pleasure to provide her support to new farmers through her role as Administrative Assistant.
Fresh local grown food has become such an integral part of Cherie’s family that she, her husband and their two young daughters are now all enthusiastic growers, and have been planting, tending & harvesting their own food for the last four years at Ignatius Farm Community Garden Plots.
Ever since Rebecca’s mother read her Little House on the Prairie, and James Herriot as a child she has secretly wanted to raise farm animals and be a farmer! After spending a summer as an intern on an organic farm Rebecca was inspired to study agriculture because it allowed her to learn about such a wide variety of topics from economics, and social issues, to animal welfare, and plant pathology! Of course studying everything farm related had nothing to do with her secret plans!
Rebecca recently completed her BSc in Agriculture at the University of Guelph, majoring in Organic Agriculture. She is pretty much ecstatic to have joined the FarmStart team, and be working on training programs and educational opportunities for new farmers! Outside of work Rebecca puts her foodie knowledge to good use volunteering with an after school cooking club, and helping her friends in the wider community with their edible garden projects!