Organic Connections

Organic Connections

Organic Connections

Organic Connections

Organic Connections

Organic Connections


RegistrationNovember 1-3, 2018 Prairieland Park - Saskatoon, SK

Growing Organics to Meet the Demand
November 1-3, 2018
Prairieland Park - Saskatoon, SK
Largest Organic Conference in Western Canada


Marla Carlson

Organic Connections

Marla Carlson has worked in the organic sector in Saskatchewan since 2006 and has been eating organic food for longer than she wishes to admit!  Her passion for organic food and farming has grown as her involvement in the sector deepened.  Marla’s day job is with SaskOrganics’ as their Executive Director.  In this leadership role, she is always looking for innovative ways to fulfil the organizations mission to cultivate a healthier world for the benefit of all through organic food and agriculture.  Marla’s favourite project to help further this vision, hands down, is Abundance magazine, a quarterly opportunity to tell the good story organics has to tell in Saskatchewan, from seed to fork.

Marla is also Secretary to the Prairie Organic Development Fund and is an observer on the Organic Value Chain Roundtable.  She also serves as a director on two food related community initiatives in Regina – Every Bite Project and Food Regina.  Marla has been a director with Organic Connections since 2011 and President since 2015.


Carey Gillam

Carey Gillam is a veteran investigative journalist, researcher and writer with more than 25 years of experience covering corporate news, including 17 years as a senior correspondent for Reuters international news service. She has specialty knowledge regarding the rise of biotech crop technology and associated rise in pervasive pesticide use in our food production system. Gillam works now both as a freelance writer and researcher on food and chemical policy issues and directs research for the nonprofit consumer group U.S. Right to Know. Gillam has won several industry awards for her work and been recognized as one of the top journalists in the country covering food and agriculture. She is a frequent commentator on broadcast programs and appears as a public speaker at conferences and universities to share her knowledge of hotly debated issues involving food and agriculture. Her new book “Whitewash- The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science” was released in October 2017.

Allison Squires

Upland Organics

Allison is an owner and operator of Upland Organics, an organic grain farm located near Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, with her husband Cody and three children.  She is very interested in learning about new techniques and methods to improve the quality of their food production.  Upland Organics has been certified organic for over a decade and produce several crop types including pulses, cereals, and oilseeds.  Over the last few years they’ve been learning more about the importance of improving the health of their soils and have started growing diverse cover crops and reducing tillage.  

Cody Straza

Upland Organics

Cody grew up near Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan on a mixed farm. After getting a Bachelor of Engineering and working off the farm for a number of years, he and his wife Allison bought their own farm in the Wood Mountain area in 2010. On their farm they grow mostly Kamut, lentils and flax. Recently they've also grown spelt, forage peas, yellow mustard and chick peas. Over the last few years there has been a focus shift to soil health. They've started growing diverse cover crops and reducing tillage. Most recently they have partnered with a local rancher to terminate the cover crops with cattle.


Dr. Amber Fletcher

University of Regina

Dr. Amber Fletcher is Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Studies at the University of Regina. Her research examines the social and gender dimensions of climate change and public policy with particular focus on agriculture and rural communities. Amber has served as a delegate and consultant to the United Nations on issues of gender and environment. She holds two medals from the Governor General of Canada for her work on gender equality issues. Amber’s edited book, Women in Agriculture Worldwide (with Dr. Wendee Kubik), was published by Routledge in 2016.

Dr. Andy Hammermeister

Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, Dalhousie University

Raised on a mixed farm in SE Saskatchewan Andy’s passion for sustainable management of our landscape led him to study soil science, land reclamation and applied ecology before turning his attention toward organic agriculture. Over the last 15 years with the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, Andy has collaborated in a wide range of research and science communication projects across Canada and has became the director of the OACC in 2010. Through this role, Andy is the Science Director for the national Organic Science Cluster program.

Clark Brenzil

Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

He provides information and recommendations on weed control and The Weed Control Act to producers, agronomists, government departments and agencies, as well as municipalities. 

Mr. Brenzil (Clark) has experience in weed management with the crop protection industry, university research and government. 

Clark has been the Provincial Specialist in Weed Control with Saskatchewan Agriculture since January 1998.

Dr. Dave Sauchyn

Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina

Dr. Dave Sauchyn is Director of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina. His main research interests are 1) the climate and hydrology of the past millennium and how this knowledge of the past can inform our understanding of future climate and water supplies, and 2) planned adaption to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change on the natural capital of western Canada. During 2011-16, Dave co-directed an interdisciplinary study of the vulnerability of agricultural communities to climate extremes in Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil and the Canadian Prairies. He has accepted the task of lead author of the Prairies chapter of the current national assessment of climate change.

Dennis Skoworodko

Our Farm

I am the owner of Our Farm. We are a market garden located just next to the city limits of Saskatoon in the Hamlet of Furdale. We farm on 2 acres of land. We are Certified Organic growers and we grow 40 types of veggies with over 130 different varieties in total. We sell our veggies through CSA subscriptions, in our own farmer’s market we hold on Saturdays in the summer/fall on Broadway and 8th Street in Saskatoon, on line ordering, to a few restaurants and also to some resellers.

So what is the story of Our Farm? I had a career in selling wholesale textiles for 14 years, then I had a career selling real estate for 14 years, then I felt it was time to do something that was really important, and what could be more important than food? – so 2015 we started Our Farm. But why? And why Organic? After some health issues we started taking what we eat much more seriously and it started us on a search for healthy and TASTY food. I have always loved good food, and as we transitioned our diet to what we felt was a healthier diet – a more plant-based diet, we realized that taste was lacking in so many of the veggies we could buy. And we wanted food that did not contribute to health risks. “Our Farm” started with wanting tasty food. And wanting nutritious food. Food without chemical sprays and chemical fertilizers. Food that is non-GMO. Out of this “Our Farm” was born in the heart of the prairies in Saskatoon.

Don Kizlyk

My wife Donna and I operated a certified organic vegetable market garden 19 kilometers north of Wadena. We have gardened since 1989, and took the steps to become certified in 2001.

We are working towards being retired, so are now down to 2 acres this year, 2018. We have reduced the amount of vegetables that we grow, as well as what we are growing. With 2 acres I still find it keeps me very busy during the summer.

In 2016 we were honoured to receive the Organic Heroes award from the Organic Connections.


Dr. Elaine Ingham

Soil Foodweb, Inc

Elaine Ingham, PhD. is Founder of Soil Foodweb Inc., an international laboratory system that assesses the balance of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and mycorrhizal fungi in all materials.  The major emphasis of her work is to return health to soil, so that natural nutrient cycling and disease suppression occur, allowing nutrient-dense, maximum yields of the desired plants, without requiring use of pesticides or inorganic fertilizers. 

Elaine started her academic career at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN graduating in 1974 with a double major, cum laude, in Biology and Chemistry. Elaine earned her Master of Science in Microbiology in 1977 at Texas A & M University and her doctorate degree from Colorado State University in 1981 in Microbiology with an emphasis on soil.

Elaine was a post-doctor fellow, along with her husband Russ (who also has a doctorate from Colorado State University in Zoology, emphasizing nematology), at the Natural Resource Ecology Lab at Colorado State University. In 1985, Elaine accepted a Research Associate Fellowship at the University of Georgia.

In 1986, Elaine moved to Oregon State University, but in 1991, because the samples from outside Elaine's immediate program being sent to her for analysis were becoming a large component of what she was doing, a service through the University was opened called the Soil Microbial Biomass Service. The Service offered researchers and commercial clients the ability to have soil samples analyzed for soil food web organisms.

In the fall of 1996, Soil Foodweb Inc. became the commercial enterprise doing this work and labs began to spread around the world.  Working on compost tea with many people around the world has brought a greater understanding of how to properly manage compost, vermicomposting, and compost tea to guarantee disease-suppressive, soil-building, nutrient-retaining composts and compost teas.

Dr. Ingham works with Soil Life Consultants around the world, maintains a website, writes books, writes articles, publishes scientific papers, and gives talks at meetings and symposia around the world. Recently, a benefactor helped Dr. Carole Ann Rollins and Dr. Elaine Ingham buy a research farm in California in order to have a place to perform Proof of Concept trials with the soil food web using many different agricultural approaches. Our research focus is currently on small and medium scale sustainable management of vegetable and pasture systems, on carbon sequestration with agricultural crops where observations of as much as 10 more tons of carbon per acre sequestered per annum have occurred in crop soils, to food forest systems to hydroponics and aquaponics.


Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson, one of North America’s top professional storm-chasers and severe weather experts, is also an accomplished photographer, speaker, author, workshop leader and recently a television personality with the CMT series, Tornado Hunters. After graduating from Canada’s renowned Acadia University and founding and building a leading successful communications, marketing and advertising firm from the ground up, Greg decided it was time to devote himself full-time to pursuing his passion for capturing nature’s most beautiful and deadly displays of severe weather.

Using sophisticated weather-tracking technology, his ability to read severe weather patterns and a team of dedicated sidekicks, Greg has put thousands of kilometers on his Tornado Hunter Trucks, intercepting and documenting hundreds of storms across the United States and Canada since 2011 alone. His recent experiences include documenting and compassionately sharing the aftermath of the massive twisters that devastated Joplin Missouri, Moore Oklahoma and El Reno, Oklahoma. Greg’s skills are now being retained by the outdoor festival industry in order to assist organizers in ensuring their large crowds are kept safe from sudden and severe weather risks. He also lends his extensive knowledge to organizations who wish to educate their outdoor working crews on severe weather safety and protocol.

Greg is the author of the Blown Away, A Year through the Lens of The Tornado Hunter, a best seller and gold medal award winner for design. He recently published a second book entitled, Why is the Sky Green?, which is already gaining much respect in the photography community.

A firm believer in the ‘Bucket List’ philosophy, Greg’s mission is to inspire others to chase their own passions, while sharing and teaching the lessons he has learned from pursuing his. When he’s not storm-chasing or speaking, Greg enjoys life at home in Regina, Saskatchewan spending time with his three children, and of course - cheering for his beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Jay Fuhrer

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Jay Fuhrer is a Soil Health Specialist employed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bismarck, North Dakota. He has boots on the ground the last 38 years working with cropping systems, grazing systems, cover crops, and gardens. Jay also has an extensive background working with groups and entities, such as; soil and water conservation districts, national and international no-till organizations, watersheds, farm organizations, urban groups, and more. Recently, Jay spends his time at the Menoken Farm minimizing soil disturbance, adding soil armor, maximizing plant diversity, maintaining living roots in the soil, and integrating livestock.

Kathlyn Hossack

In 2015 I graduated with my BSc. in Kinesiology, and soon after that certified nationally as an Athletic Therapist. 

I thrive on teaching and empower others, and having been an athlete most of my life I was drawn to a career in health where I was able to use the power of movement to improve human health in all it's facets. Through University and the early parts of my career I've had the opportunities to work with all types of people, from older adults, young athletes, those dealing with chronic health conditions (ehlers-danlos symdrome, POTS, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular conditions, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, etc), weekend warriors, amateur and professional level athletes. 

I'm also honored to have been a part of the medical team for events such as the Canada Summer games, Morris Stampede, MB Winter Games, The Scotties, the Manitoba Hunter Jumper Assoc. and numerous other local sporting events. I am also the head athletic therapist for Murdoch McKay's Clansmen Football, and am proud to be in my fifth season with them. 

I write a regular column in GrainNews on being Fit to Farm, and members of the agriculutural community are a common occurrence as consulting and therapy clients. I work with farm communities across the country; focused on individual and group health and wellness. I work closely with equestrian athletes as well, having rode competitively for much of my life. Our branch off of Integrative Movement: RideWell Performance is focused to equestrian athletes specifically and is proud to be one of the few equestrian focused practices in North America. 

In the clinic my practice is focused on the whole body. There is no cookie cutter approach to rehabilitation, training, or health- and every person is different. Pain is the result of something not working properly, but the location of pain is rarely the answer. My passion is helping people rebuild their movement and their health, regardless of what their goals are. 

Lesley Kelly

Lesley is the head and heart behind the blog, High Heels & Canola Fields with the goal of building community, creating conversation and help make agriculture stronger. She grew upon her family’s grain farm at Watrous, Saskatchewan and after gaining an education in marketing and accounting, went on to work in various marketing and branding positions in the ag sector, such as Cargill, ATB Financial, Farm Credit Canada and is currently the Brand Manager at WorkHorse Hub. Using her entrepreneurial spirit and the skills developed through her agribusiness career, she created a snack food business using the barley grown on her farm. In December 2015, she started her blog in hopes to dispel myths and bring consumers and farmers together. In 2017, she expanded her reach by joining the Farmer and the City Girl podcast which explores various topics in food and farming through real life conversations. Advocating for mental health is near to her heart and in 2018, she was part of the #BellLetsTalk campaign and co-founded the Do More Agriculture Foundation whose mission is to break barriers and create a culture where all producers are encouraged, empowered and supported to take care of their mental well-being. She was recently was the recipient of the YWCA's Regina Women of Distinction award for her advocacy in mental health. She isn’t afraid to tackle any conversations within agriculture and through storytelling, photography and her love of ag, she’s attracted a loyal fan base in the thousands across the world. Her and her husband live in Regina where they raise their two young boys.

Michael Sligh

Michael Sligh comes from a long-line of West Texas farmers and ranchers and farmed on a large-scale organically for the decade of the 1970’s. He went on to help develop US and International Organic legislation and standards thru his work of over 30 years as a Program Director for Rural Advancement Foundation International - (RAFI-USA). Where he manages policy, research and education for the promotion of organic, agro-biodiversity, organic seed development, and a wide-range of food justice, fair trade and other value-added food labeling, policy and marketing issues.

He is currently involved in two new organic market-based initiatives - Regenerative Organic and New England-based organic farmer effort to address concerns over USDA allowance for hydroponics in organic.

He also helps coordinate the Seeds and Breeds Coalition for the 21st Century, which is reinvigorating public cultivars to meet the challenges of regional climate change and the needs and demands of the organic/ sustainable famers and our marketplace.

He is an author and co-author of numerous publications.

He is a part-time organic farmer and a trained anthropologist. He has been very involved in many aspects of domestic and international agricultural policy and practice development, organizing, food labeling, standards, certification and accreditation work over the years, including:

  • Founding Chair of the USDA/ National Organic Standards Board,

  • A founder of Domestic Fair Trade Association, National Organic Coalition, and Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group,

  • Founding member of National Family Farm Coalition and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition,

  • Board President of the International Organic Accreditation Service,

  • Former NGO delegate to UN Food Labeling Commission and WTO,

  • Founding partner of Agricultural Justice Project, which has developed domestic fair trade standards for North America.

He lives, farms and works from North Carolina, USA.

Dr. Myriam R. Fernandez

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Myriam R. Fernandez has worked as a research scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Swift Current Research and Development Centre (SCRDC), SK for 30 years. She holds a BSc from York University and MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Toronto.

Among the main objectives of her research have been to gain a better understanding of the development and nature of important crop diseases, including Fusarium head blight and root rot of cereal and alternative crops; to determine the impact of management practices, such as cropping sequence, tillage method and glyphosate use, on crop and disease development and pathogen populations; and to improve strategies to minimize grain yield and quality losses.

She has been leading a multidisciplinary organic research program at SCRDC for over the last 10 years. Its objectives have included investigating disease reactions of cereal species and varieties grown organically, comparing crop diseases between organic and non-organic systems, and effectiveness of reducing tillage and benefits of diversified crop rotations, cover crops and intercropping on crop productivity and soil and crop health under organic management.

Tannis Axten

Axten Farms

Tannis Axten farms with her husband, Derek, at Minton, Saskatchewan. She has a Bachelor of Education with a Major in Biology. Tannis began farming with her husband in 2002 and has now found a way put her education to good use. Tannis completed four online courses offered by Dr. Elaine Ingham to further her knowledge on the soil food web, making compost and identifying microbiology in the soil. She then had the opportunity to spend 5 days of hands-on- training with Dr. Ingham. A microscope is used to assess their soils and the quality of their compost, teas and extracts. In order to restore the soil food web, Tannis determines what soil biology is lacking. They then work to create compost that can increase the diversity of biology within the soil. The microscope has become an invaluable tool on their farm.

Tia Loftsgard

Canada Organic Trade Association

With extensive experience working in the organic food industry, Tia co-founded Camino (La Siembra Co-operative) in 1999, going on to become the organic and Fairtrade cocoa company’s Director of Sales until 2009, when she joined Fairtrade Canada. As its Business Development and Licensing Director, she led strategy, building the not-for-profit’s membership base and encouraging sustainable & ethical sourcing standards. In 2013, she moved over to Fairtrade America, where as its Chief Operating Officer, she successfully developed advocacy initiatives and grew U.S. market opportunities for small farmers via the Fairtrade model. Tia joined COTA as the Executive Director in March 2016.

Will Robbins

Maida Vale Farms

Will Robbins (Maida Vale Farms) is a 4th generation farmer from Laura, Saskatchewan. He recently returned to farm with his parents on a mixed organic grain and cattle operation. Will is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan with a B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy, and spends his non-working hours playing bike polo, hockey, and enjoying the company of his partner and very adorable son (see attached picture for proof).