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Sustain Ontario is the outcome of a two year process led by the Metcalf Foundation bringing together groups working on food and agriculture issues in Southern Ontario. Participants in the discussion led by the Metcalf Foundation identified a need for collaborative policy and advocacy work at the provincial level. In 2009, Sustain Ontario hired its first director and has since been served as the unifying voice for food and farming interests across the province. In 2015, after a period of strategic visioning, Sustain Ontario becoming an incorporated not-for-profit organization. As a not-for-profit, Sustain Ontario has the freedom to take action as an independent organization, with the ability to provide additional member benefits such as advocacy, that we wouldn’t have been able to do as a full charity.

History Highlights

  • In 2015 Sustain Ontario officially becomes an independent not-for-profit
  • In 2013, Sustain Ontario launched the Ontario Edible Education Network, bringing together students, educators, community groups, parents, farmers, food businesses, and administrators to facilitate efforts to get Ontario’s children eating, cooking, growing, and learning about local, healthy sustainable food.
  • 2012-13 Growing Good Food Ideas Videos launch at Queen’s Park in 2013 with the Premier of Ontario
  • Recommendations are developed for the Local Food Act in 2012
  • Development and advancement of the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy (OFNS) in 2012
  • Sustain Ontario launches Vote ON Food campaign in 2011 that urgespolicymakers in Ontario to support local food legislation
  • Publication of Menu 2020: Ten Good Food Ideas for Ontario in 2010
  • 2010 marks the first Bring Food Home Conference : Connecting Ontario Farm and Food Networks
  • In 2009 Sustain Ontario hires its first Director and expands its mandate from Southern Ontario to province-wide
  • Sustain Ontario is formally incorporated in 2008
  • In 2007 Working meetings convened by the Metcalf Foundation to explore the possibility of a cooperative, integrated network with the goal of transforming food and agriculture and a system-wide level

SO Governance

MEMBERS of Sustain Ontario come from diverse parts of the food and farming sectors and have a common aim of working towards food systems in Ontario as part of Sustain Ontario’s mission. Members drive the work of Sustain Ontario by sharing their ideas, perspectives, and energy to advance Sustain Ontario’s mission. Members also elect the Board of Directors.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS is a group of individuals from food and farming sectors across Ontario. It serves to provide for legal and financial governance, to set strategic direction and program priorities, and to guide and support the Executive Director and staff of the organization.

NETWORKS are self-organizing groups that coalesce around interest in common area of food and farming. The networks serve primarily as hubs for information sharing. Collaboration within any given network can result in formation of a Working Group for more focused action on a given topic.

WORKING GROUPS are self-organizing teams led by interested and engaged leaders. Working Groups are made up of Members, Supporters and other stakeholders who come together to collaborate around a particular topic relevant to Sustain Ontario’s mission. Sustain Ontario’s STAFF implement the strategic directions informed by the Membership and set by the Board of Directors.


Philip Groff, Ph.D


Phil joined Sustain Ontario in June of 2015, to lead the project of Tides Canada to incorporation as an independent not-for-profit organization. Since then he has assisted the new organization through its growing pains of recruiting a new board or directors, developing governance structures and organizational policies, procurement of necessary administrative, financial and legal supports, and provided supervision for all projects and programs at Sustain. Phil comes to Sustain with nearly fifteen years senior leadership experience in the not-for-profit sector. He has a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Toronto with a specialty in Human Problem Solving, Neuropsychology and Cognition and is also a credentialed evaluator with the Canadian Evaluation Society.

Alena Cawthorne

Program and Communications Coordinator

Alena joined Sustain Ontario in September 2014 as the Food Policy Intern supporting research on local food procurement. Since then, she has had various roles including Municipal Food Policy Assistant for the Municipal Regional Food Policy Network to advance food and farming research and networking across Ontario. She has a Master in Environmental Studies with a focus on institutional procurement and its potential role in building sustainable and just food systems. Alena is an avid gardener, having spent time WWOOFing in Quebec, farming on Ryerson University’s rooftop, and managing her own front yard garden.

Carolyn Webb

Ontario Edible Education Network Coordinator

Carolyn has acted as the Ontario Edible Education Network Coordinator since 2013, when the Network received its first grant to support a paid coordinator. Prior to this, Carolyn worked as Programmes Manager for the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP), where her roles included project management, fundraising, volunteer and intern coordination, communications, and strategic and operational planning. Carolyn studied Environmental Science at the University of Guelph and received her Masters degree in Adult Education and Community Development from OISE, University of Toronto. She currently spends her free time keeping up with 2 young boys and helping them develop a love for good food.


Janet Horner

Janet is Executive Director of the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance. The Alliance is charged with the implementation of the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Action Plan, a 10 year strategic plan for enhancing and growing the food and farming cluster of the Golden Horseshoe. A member of the Steering Committee for the last 2 years, Janet has served as the first Chair of the new Sustain Ontario Board of Directors. Janet and her husband Brian farm in Dufferin County where Janet is a municipal Councillor and Commissioner of the Niagara Escarpment Commission.