Dustin Bajer, Co-Chair
Dustin Bajer is a teacher, master gardener, and permaculture designer living and working in Edmonton. Since spring 2010, Dustin has been the driving force behind the permaculture program at Jasper Place High School. In this time, he has helped students work with ecological patterns and principles to establish multiple food producing forest gardens and Canada’s first school aquaponics system. Passionate about education, ecology, and design, Dustin believes that a vibrant local food culture could not only build and nourish our communities but increase biodiversity, capture carbon and water, and provide important project-based, hands-on learning opportunities.
Kirsta Franke, Co-Chair
A born and raised Edmontonian, Kirsta Franke has 15 years of experience in the culinary, communications and event industry. Her previous work with the 124 Street Business Association allowed Kirsta to bridge a gap between producers, local businesses and citizens. In 2012, Kirsta spearheaded and founded Wild Heart Collective LTD. and then the 124 Grand Market, an evening farmers’ market located in the heart of 124 Street. The 124 Grand Market has met resounding success, becoming an Edmonton staple going into its eighth season, with 2 market days weekly. She is one of the founding members of the Edmonton Food Council and has served as co-chair for the past 3 years, Kirsta has become an important voice within Edmonton’s developing food scene and it currently working with her team on a food incubator and hub in the downtown core.
Shirzad Chunara is a registered dietitian, with a Master’s degree in Community Health. She enjoys working with seniors and immigrant communities and had worked with the Ministry of Alberta Agriculture for 12 years, where she worked with the Agri-Food industries and food companies on numerous projects. The Earthbox Kids project she co-led allowed her to combine her passion for food and healthy communities by implementing indoor gardens in over 100 schools throughout Alberta. Shirzad is also an active volunteer with Food4Good, U of A Botanic Garden and North Edmonton Seniors Association.
Sacha Deelstra has worked in human services for the past nine years. Her perspective on the food system is informed by her experience coordinating an evening meal program in the inner-city of Edmonton, as well as coordinating and participating in community kitchens and community garden projects. Sacha has a MA in Community Development. She serves on the board of directors of WECAN Food Basket Society.
Simone Demers Collins
Simone Demers Collins is a professional home economist who has managed her private consulting firm for many years, during which time she was responsible for the province of Alberta’s Farmers Markets program, planned the Alberta Horticultural Congress, was a sessional professor at the Faculté St. Jean/University of Alberta, did food styling for Toronto’s Argyle Communications and Apex Public Relations, and taught adult education for Metro and Recreation Departments in the greater Edmonton area. Simone’s volunteer efforts included being president of the national Food Safety Information Society. During the past year, Simone has led food tours in the downtown and the Strathcona areas of Edmonton, and developed recipes for information sheets distributed through a community-shared agriculture program.
Mychal-Ann Hayhoe is a new Edmontonian with a passion for all things food and agriculture related. As a Ph.D. candidate her research focused on food supply chains and where food waste is accumulating. Her research seeks to identify and suggest strategies for reducing supply chain food waste. She has written her dissertation and is now eagerly awaiting a defense date for her Ph.D. to conclude that chapter of her academic life. In addition to her academic research Mychal-Ann works as a project coordinator for compost facilities for an environmental engineering company. In addition to her academic and professional work Mychal-Ann sits on the steering committee for Food4Good which is seeking to build a community food centre in Edmonton’s west end. In her downtime Mychal-Ann enjoys hiking with her spouse and dog as well as working on small building and woodworking projects.
A blissful transplant to Edmonton, Leanne is a PhD candidate in the program of Strategic Management and Organizations at the University of Alberta. Her research aims to better understanding what happens when social movements, like the sustainable foods movement, enter the corporate sphere. She hopes her research can inform policy creation and organizational design. Leanne’s research also focuses on how differing types of organizations (e.g. for-profit, non-profit, government) collaborate to address social issues. Prior to entering the PhD program, Leanne served in management and executive roles, one in which she spearheaded the development of a partnership between a healthcare system, technical college, grassroots non-profit and a community foundation. The partnership co-developed and co-governs an urban agriculture centre housed in a sustainably-built educational greenhouse in the heart of the city (La Crosse, WI). When she is not working, you will likely find her in the off-leash section of Laurier park pretending, for about thirty seconds at a time, that one of the dogs is hers.
Heidi is the Ingredient Sourcing Manager for Western Canada at HelloFresh, a meal kit delivery company committed to bringing fresh food to the tables of families around the world. Heidi discovered her love for food while working her first job at a market garden near her home town of Camrose, Alberta. She later pursued a degree in mechanical engineering at the U of A, where she designed innovative solutions to complex problems and presented them in nation-wide engineering competitions. Now, Heidi has merged these passions for process improvement and efficiency with her passion for food into a growing career in the food industry. When she’s not working with food, Heidi is busy cooking for friends and family and likes nothing more than sharing stories over the dinner table.
Daniel has worked as a researcher, project developer, digital communicator, and volunteer engagement coordinator for sustainable development initiatives. He has a M.Sc in Geography, a Permaculture Design Certificate, and has completed a Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship. His interest in food, began with enhancing food waste collection and industrial composting at Concordia University in Montreal. He then aided with the development of Montreal’s City Farm School. Since moving to Alberta, he has volunteered with the Calgary Eats! Steering Committee, with the University of Alberta Campus Garden, and the City of Edmonton’s Master Composter Recycler program. Daniel is actively occupied by interests in organizational development, futurism, design, and sustainable development.
Mack’s mission is to change the world through code and prose. He focused on the power of software ever since becoming interested in computer technology as a kid, and has built software-based solutions for education, journalism, open government, and other industries. Mack has a passion for storytelling and has covered technology, urban affairs, and many other topics as a blogger and journalist. He is is co-founder of What the Truck?!, Edmonton’s food truck extravaganza; Eat Alberta, a hands-on food skills conference; and Blink, a series of pop-up restaurants and events.
Making a difference on this planet is important to Kimlin. Her education includes a Bachelor of Science in General Agriculture, a Master of Philosophy in Soil Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Soil Science. She recalls being eager to assist with students’ laboratories, as a teaching assistant during her tertiary education. Kimlin’s past work experience in retail has enabled her to gain knowledge in retail, strengthen some of her skills such as verbal communication and discover specific dreams such as writing. She hopes to use her knowledge, skills and work experience in agriculture and retail to contribute toward activities at the Edmonton Food Council (EFC) such as advising on food and urban agriculture and communications about EFC. She is passionate about sustainable agricultural systems and hopes at EFC, to use the knowledge of these systems to contribute towards ample food supply and affordable food costs, while improving/sustaining the environment, today and in the future. Kimlin enjoys working towards overall well – being (example having a diet with healthy foods) to help her do the best she can at all times.
Sandra is currently the Research Coordinator for the Edmonton Social Planning Council where she uses data and research storytelling and advocating for those struggling with poverty. This was the next step after being a key player in designing food security programming that serves immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeking families as part of the ENRICH project at the University of Alberta. Sandra has worked farmers’ markets, restaurants, and served in a leadership role for several non-profit and community initiatives. She holds an M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics and a B.Sc. in Nutrition & Food Sciences.
In her off-time, Sandra likes to cook, knit, play video-games, and hide the fact that she is from Calgary from everyone new she meets.
Mel Priestley is a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications over the past 10 years, specializing in wine, food, theatre and local Edmonton news and issues. She is a former editor for Edmonton alt-newspaper Vue Weekly. In 2009 she published a wine book (Book of Canadian Wine) through local Edmonton publisher Blue Bike Books. Mel holds a degree in Honours English from the University of Alberta.
Mel has also worked in the group retirement industry for over 10 years at two major Canadian insurers, where she has been responsible for providing service and support to a large block of group retirement clients. She holds the Retirement Plans Associate (RPA) and Canadian Securities Course (CSC) designations.
With over 10 years’ experience as a leader in health promotion, Billy Smale has worked extensively to support the development of social and physical environments that reinforce healthy behaviors. Billy nurtured bodies and minds by creating sustainable snack, cooking and taste testing programs, while also facilitating the development of healthy eating school policies. Billy’s strong skills in team and organisational development, as well as his experience in community engagement, public health and communications will be an excellent fit for the Edmonton Food Council, and he is excited to support Edmonton in developing a resilient local food and agriculture system.
Having worked in the land development industry for approximately seven years, Justin has had a broad range of experience in both the public and private sector as well as within different Canadian regions throughout Alberta and Ontario. In his current role he works on implementation and compliance with established land use legislation.
Justin is currently pursuing a Master’s in environmental management. His thesis hopes to provide a keen insight into urban agriculture here in Edmonton. He is seeking to answering the question: how can the potential for urban agriculture to advance sustainable community development be more effectively realized within the The City of Edmonton?
Marjorie began with Edmonton’s Food Bank in 1987 as a volunteer. In 1989, she became the Executive Director of Edmonton’s Food Bank. Marjorie became involved on a provincial and national level, serving on the Boards of Directors for the Alberta Food Bank Network Association and the national body, Food Banks Canada (formerly the Canadian Association of Food Banks). Over the years, Marjorie’s work and dedication to vulnerable Edmontonians has been recognized with a number of community awards such as an honorary diploma in Health and Community Studies from Grant MacEwan Community College and being named Global TV’s Woman of Vision. In May, 2012 in the category of Community Service, Marjorie was honored with a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award. Also in 2012, she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2006, Marjorie was invested into the Order of Canada in the category of Social Science. Marjorie believes that this recognition is not for her role, but for the collective support she receives from Edmontonians, Albertans and fellow Canadians in reducing hunger in our communities. Marjorie lives with her husband Mike and has three grown daughters and four grandchildren.
Meghan Dear is the founder of Localize, an Edmonton-based start-up that is testing ways to strengthen the relationship that consumers have with food producers through an innovative approach to grocery shelf and product labelling for local food. She has a degree in Biology and Agriculture, and is an accredited Professional Biologist. Meghan has worked in a variety of agriculture sectors, including working on her family farm of Strawberry Creek Gardens, working for the Alberta Research Council in Crop Science research, and working overseas to delivering food security programs and to develop better agriculture marketing solutions in the developing world.
Mark is a professional landscape architect and has been providing broad-based landscape design and project management services for more than 29 years. As a Principal in the Stantec Urban Development group in Edmonton, Mark is part of the leadership team that manages their multi-disciplinary staff and is the Practice Leader for Landscape Architecture.
Many of Mark’s most significant projects include administering the design and construction of large-scale public infrastructure improvements and private developments. Project types include master planned communities, multi-family housing, commercial and industrial development, urban design, streetscapes, and park and recreational facilities. Mark is a LEED accredited professional and is passionate about seeking opportunities to apply sustainable design principles appropriate for each of his projects. Mark attended The Ohio State University and graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture. He began his professional practice in San Diego, California where he and his wife Cindy lived for 27 years while raising their three children. Mark and Cindy relocated to Edmonton in 2011 and now live in Rossdale.
A professional chef with over 20 years’ experience, Cory is a passionate food advocate whose career has taken him through kitchens across Canada. Drawing on personal experiences, Cory has dedicated his career to bridging the gap between the hospitality industry and local charities. He has been a strong supporter of the Ronald McDonald House’s Home for Dinner program & Y.E.S.S. He has also been an instructor for the City of Edmonton’s culinary arts program at the City Arts Center, & has lectured in local schools about food security & careers in the hospitality industry. An avid gardener, fisherman, & outdoorsman, Cory’s connection to food and urban agriculture is deeply personal and rooted in his family’s agricultural background. A strong and vocal supporter of Edmonton’s food scene, Cory hopes to provide the citizens of Edmonton with an active link to the hospitality industry through his role on the Food Council.
Heather Shewchuk is the current Director of Agriculture at Northlands and has amassed 15 years of experience working with Alberta’s agriculture industry. Since her graduation from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of commerce degree in April of 2000, she has devoted much of her professional life to the development of business relations within Alberta’s agricultural sector. A true champion of the agriculture industry in Alberta and beyond, Heather has been instrumental in highlighting our industry on the world’s stage and ensuring the vitality of Alberta agriculture on a local, national and international scale. Her passion for local food and the city of Edmonton has allowed her to give back to the community by sharing her wealth of knowledge and ensuring that the idea of “fresh” stays in our local food system for years to come.
Jimmy Shewchuk has worked as a consultant, concept-developer, trend expert, Owner and Operator in the Hospitality Industry in Edmonton and parts of Western Canada. For 15 years, Jimmy has been involved as an entrepreneur with many of his own individual restaurants, clubs and currently a catering company. He has worked on developing various hospitality boards and has helped shift policy and social responsibility around the industry. In October of 2013 he joined the team at Edmonton Economic Development to assist in growing hospitality business in the Edmonton region. He is a former board member of the Old Strathcona Business Association.
Carley-Jane Stanton is the founder of the Alder Food Security Society, a non-profit organization aiming to make fresh, local food available to all, regardless of income. Carley-Jane has had many roles in the Edmonton food community, from a Market Manager with the Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market to a farm hand with Riverbend Gardens, to an Agriculture and Resource Economics student at the University of Alberta. She is passionate about food security and equitable economic development and looks forward to serving Edmontonians on the Edmonton Food Council.
Tom Lynch-Staunton is currently working as the Issues Manager for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and in Government Relations for Alberta Beef Producers (ABP). Previously he worked at Livestock Gentec, the genetics and genomics program at the University of Alberta, as the Director of Industry Relations, and continues to work out of the Gentec office in his current industry role, maintaining a positive collaboration between CCA, ABP and the UofA. He has strong practical and lifetime experience in the livestock industry, growing up on and eventually co-managing the family owned Antelope Butte Ranch (est.1885), a mixed 1000 head cow/calf operation, with his brother in Southern Alberta. Tom received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and International Business from Simon Fraser University and is also currently pursuing a part-time MBA at the UofA, specializing in Sustainability and Public Policy, as he continues working.
Tom is currently a mentor in the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program, he chairs the National Beef Sustainability Assessment Working Committee in the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and also recently co-chaired the Alberta Beef Producers AGM last December. Lastly, he is a member of the Edmonton Food Council, with a keen interest in growing urban agriculture.
Brent Swallow is Professor and Chair of the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta. Dr. Swallow grew up on a Saskatchewan farm and earned bachelor and master degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Between 1991 and 2009, Dr. Swallow lived and worked in Kenya, first with the International Livestock Research Institute and later with the World Agroforestry Centre. He moved to Edmonton with his wife and four children in 2009 and continues to be actively involved with research on food security in Asia and Africa. His newest research projects are concerned with the phenomena of ‘food deserts’ in Edmonton and farmland conversion and fragmentation in Alberta’s Capital Region. He has authored over 150 books, journal articles, book chapters and research papers. For the last four years, Dr. Swallow has taught a class on agri-food systems in which students learn about food and agricultural issues in the Edmonton area through volunteer work with local organizations. He supports the Sustainable Food Initiative of the University of Alberta Students Union, including the new campus farmers’ market.