Peterborough Alliance for Food and Farming Members

(November 2023)

Dawn Berry Merriam

Dawn has over 35 years of planning and community development experience in the Peterborough region.   She has worked as a planner in municipal and provincial settings and has served on many local boards and committees that have helped build a healthy and sustainable community.  She is a partner with Merriam & Associates and presently helps manage the family farm that has been in the family for four generations.  Dawn has a graduate degree from Trent University and continues to be affiliated through the Trent Centre on Aging & Society. She is a recipient of the Peterborough & Lakefield Community Police Service’s Community Service Award in recognition of her community involvement.

Jillian Bishop

Jillian is passionate about building community food systems and connections between them. She is a strong advocate for urban agriculture, supporting local farmers and getting your hands in the dirt. She works at Nourish as Community Food Cultivator where she supports the creation and sustainability of community gardens across the region and teaches people how to work together and to grow and preserve their own food and save seeds. She was Manager of the Peterborough Downtown Farmers’ Market for 10 years, and is the owner of a small heirloom seed business.

Gabi Dragomir

Gabi is the Rural Economic Development Officer for Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development.  She works with the Peterborough region’s rural communities and businesses to identify rural and agriculture-based investment opportunities. Gabi develops and converts leads and inquiries into investment expansion, job creation and development activities that ultimately help to create a thriving economy, resulting in regional prosperity.

Stephen Hill

Stephen Hill is an associate professor and Director in the School of Environment. The TSE offers BSc and BA degrees in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems.  Stephen is an active researcher in climate and energy policy and sustainability. He brings an interdisciplinary and problem-based approach to his teaching. He works to connect students with the community so that they can bring their ideas, theories and practices to action. He continually encourages students to get involved with Trent University and the wider Peterborough area. Locally, Stephen has been a volunteer with many organizations including Sustainable Peterborough, Peterborough GreenUp, the Community Opportunities and Innovation Network, and the Peterborough Minor Hockey Association.

Lauren Kennedy

Lauren is a Registered Dietitian with Peterborough Public Health. Since obtaining her Masters of Science in Foods and Nutrition, she has worked in public health, primary care, and diabetes prevention/management. Her current focus is work with food systems, promotion of food literacy, and efforts to address local food insecurity. Lauren works closely with local and provincial networks including the Peterborough Food Action Network, Future of Food and Farming Working Group, and Ontario Dietitians in Public Health.

Pat Learmonth:

Pat is the past Director and a current Board member of Farms at Work, a non-profit regional organization supporting new farmers, food system development and farmland protection in east central Ontario. She is a member of the Peterborough Ag Roundtable. Pat served as Environmental Farm Plan Representative and Workshop Leader for Peterborough County and co-founded the East Central Farm Stewardship Collaborative. She is a past Chair of the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development Agricultural Advisory Committee. She has also served on the Board of Sustain Ontario and the Policy and Advisory Committee of Ontario Farmland Trust. Pat holds degrees in Environmental Studies and Law. Pat and her husband own a farm near Peterborough.

Emma MacDonald

Emma Macdonald is the Manager of Agricultural Innovation and Stewardship at Farms At Work, assisting non-farming landowners in keeping their agricultural land in production. For the past decade, Emma has worked on ecological farms in the Peterborough area and with agencies working to further food access and agricultural literacy. She is also a part-time instructor at Durham College and Trent University.

Iain Mudd, RPP, MCIP, Director of Planning, County of Peterborough

Iain is the County of Peterborough’s Director of Planning and is responsible for Planning and the Land Division office.  Iain is a Full Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and is a Registered Professional Planner.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and Environmental Resource Studies from Trent University.

Natasha Sheward 

Natasha is the Program Coordinator for Net Zero Farms, a pilot project of Green Economy Peterborough designed to support local farms and agribusiness’ in tracking and reducing GHG emissions. Natasha is also the Coordinator of the Trent Vegetable Gardens, a non-profit, field-to-table farm working to bolster food sovereignty in Peterborough by providing food by donation, community garden plots, and experiential learning opportunities to students and community members.

Linda Slavin

Linda is a long-time local food activist since she worked as a young girl at her family supermarket in Havelock.  Since that time, she has helped (a) to facilitate a local study on organic foods; (b) worked on the development of the “Kawartha’s Own, Locally Grown” label to promote local foods; (c) managed COIN – a social enterprise business which offered lunch-counter training at the library for many years.  Linda has enjoyed being part of Sustainable Peterborough’s Future of Food and Farming Working Group (now Peterborough Alliance for Food and Farming) since its inception.

Heather Thoma

Heather is the Food Procurement Coordinator for Student Nutrition Programs across the Central East region of Ontario, supporting food purchasing and logistics for universal breakfast and snack programs in Peterborough City and County schools, as well as for 6 other neighboring regions.  In this role, she coordinates with local, provincial, and national food organizations and suppliers, helping school staff and volunteers access foods that are nutritious and affordable. Local farms are becoming more a part of this picture, and helping to build the capacity for that change is part of her interest in this work.  Heather also is co-operator with her partner at LoonSong Farm in Northumberland County, growing and milling organic grains.   

Past Members (partial listing):

Brad Appleby: City of Peterborough

Bryan Weir: County of Peterborough

Judy Coward:  Planner, Economic Development Advisor, Peterborough County farmland owner

Cheryl Lyon:  Transition Town Peterborough

Adam McLaughlin: MA in Sustainability Studies program at Trent

Melissa Johnston: Consultant; MA from Trent University in Sustainability Studies focused on governance and management best practices used at farmers’ markets across Ontario.  

Michael Classens: Former Assistant Professor in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program at Trent University.  

Dave Cavanagh: 5th generation beef farmers; formerly on Peterborough Ag Roundtable, Peterborough County Cattlemen, Peterborough Federation of Agriculture, and the Selwyn Township Economic Development Committee. 

Marion Burton: Raised on a dairy farm in OSM township; served two terms on OSM municipal council. 

Heather Candler, Ex officio: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs