Carving Our Niche | Speakers & Program

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Dr. Allen Williams speaks to conference attendees at Carving Our Niche. Credit: Sustain Ontario.

Dr. Allen Williams speaks to conference attendees at Carving Our Niche.
Credit: Sustain Ontario.

Check out the conference pictures on our Flickr account!

Conference Program

Please click on the highlighted speakers to access their Powerpoint presentations.

8:00 AM – 9:15 AM Arrival and Registration (Light refreshments provided.)
8:55 AM – 9:15 AM Welcome and Introductions
9:15 AM – 9:30 AM Framing the Conversation
John Rowe, Rowe Farms
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Keynote Address: Budgeting for Grass Fed Beef Success
Dr. Allen Williams, Livestock Management Consultants, LLC
10:30 AM – 11:00 AM Break
11:00 AM – 12:15 PM Grass Fed Beef Production
Henry Bakker, Field Sparrow Farms – Technical Overview, Environmental Benefits
Harry Stoddart, Stoddart Family Farm – Breed Selection, Grassland Management
Dr. Allen Williams – Carcass Quality
Jim Whitehouse, Grand Valley Fortifiers – Audits
Jack Kyle, OMAF and Profitable Pastures – Producer Resources
12:15 PM – 1:30 PM Lunch
Beef generously provided by Beretta Family Farms
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Connecting with the Market
Jamie Waldron, Landmark Group – Working with Restaurants
Bob Dobson, Dobson’s Grass Fed Beef – Independent Marketing and Distribution
Stephen Vaughan, 100 Mile Food Service – Third Party Marketing and Distribution
Julie Day, Penokean Hills Farms – Collaborative Marketing and Distribution
2:30 PM – 3:15 PM Experience in the Market
Tara Longo, The Healthy Butcher
Jamie Cooney, Rowe Farms
Mike Beretta, Beretta Family Farms
3:15 PM – 3:45 PM Break
3:45 PM – 4:15 PM Beef Exists on a Spectrum: What’s in a Name?
An open discussion on labelling
4:15 PM – 5:00 PM Discussion on the Preparation of Grass-Fed Beef
5:00 PM Closing Remarks


Keynote Speaker

Dr. Allen WilliamsPicture 3
Founding Partner and President of Livestock Management Consultants, LLC (Birmingham, Alabama)

Dr. Allen Williams holds a Ph.D in Animal Breeding and Genetics from Louisiana State University, and brings a wealth of knowledge on farm and ranch financial analysis, reproductive efficiency, forage and grazing management, and genetic selection.



Speakers are organized alphabetically by first name.


Bob Dobsonbob dobson picture
Owner, Dobson’s Grass Fed Beef (Renfrew, ON)
Session: Connecting with the Market — Independent Marketing and Distribution

Bob’s great-great grandfather settled the current farm in the Ottawa Valley in the 1850’s. It operated as a multi-species farm until he took over in the 1970’s. At that time he established a beef cow-calf farm. The cow herd grew to almost 200 cows by 1998. After weaning, the calves were sold as a commodity, normally going into feedlots in southwestern Ontario. Eleven years ago the herd was reduced to around 60 cows and they started selling grass-fed beef throughout the Valley. They have gone from selling a commodity to marketing a product.


Bryan Gilvesy
Owner/Farmer, Y U Ranch (Norfolk County, ON)

Bryan Gilvesy is farmer and proprietor of the Y U Ranch, producing grass fed beef in Norfolk County, Ontario. Since 2006, he has been an advocate of valuing nature’s benefits to engage communities and farmers as key environmental solution providers. Brian is Eastern Canada Lead of ALUS (Alternative Lands Use Services) and Co-Chair of the Sustain Ontario Steering Committee. He is helping lead conversations around sustainability and building sustainable value. Brian is a two-time winner of the Premier’s Award For Ag Innovation and winner of the 2013 Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Award; the 2012 Environment Minister’s Award For Environmental Excellence; and the 2008 Canadian Agri-Food Award Of Excellence For Environmental Stewardship. Bryan holds a degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.


Harry Stoddart
Co-Owner, Stoddart Family Farm (Little Britain, ON)
Session: Grass Fed Beef Production — Breed Selection

Harry Stoddart has been co-owner of Stoddart Family Farm with his wife Silvia for the past 19 years. Their farm is focused on raising grass-fed beef and lamb as well as pastured pork and poultry.  They direct their market to consumers in the GTA through their CSA program.  Stoddart was also responsible for delivering the Financial Management and Field Crop Production Modules in the Sustainable Agriculture Program at Fleming College.  He is the author of “Real Dirt: An Ex-industrial Farmer’s Guide to Sustainable Eating” where he educates eaters about how they can individually participate in and demand sustainable agriculture. “Real Dirt” challenges consumers to choose a better future for food production.


Henry Bakker
Co-Owner, Field Sparrow Farms (Bobcaygeon, ON)
Session: Grass Fed Beef Production — Environmental Benefits, Technical Overview

Henry Bakker has been co-owner of Field Sparrow Farms with his wife Sarah since 2008. They produce grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, and sell through farmers’ markets in Toronto and through their summer and winter meat CSAs.  Bird-friendly agricultural practices, such as rotational grazing, delayed haying, and protecting riparian areas, that work to increase usable nesting sites for grassland bird species are an important part of the Field Sparrow Farms operation. Henry also helped develop curriculum for the Sustainable Agriculture program at Fleming College and served as the program coordinator for the first year and continues to instruct in the program.


Jack Kylejack kyle picture
Provincial Grazier Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Lindsay, ON)
Session: Grass Fed Beef Production — OMAF Producer Resources

In his role as Provincial Grazier Specialist Jack provides grazing and pasture management information to livestock producers across Ontario.  Grazing management combines soil, plant and animal management to achieve the optimum level of livestock production utilizing solar energy and the available land base.  Previous to becoming Grazier Specialist Jack was a Soil and Crop Specialist, Soil Conservation Advisor and worked for a number of years in the feed and grain industries. Jack has a BSc (Agr) in Animal Science from the University of Guelph and received his CCA certification in 1998.


Jamie CooneyPicture 4
CEO, Rowe Farms (Toronto, ON)
Session: Experience in the Market

Jamie graduated in 1992 from McMaster University with a Honours Bachelor of Commerce. After leaving McMaster, Jamie joined the residential and commercial energy conservation team at Ontario Hydro. In 1994, Jamie began his 14 year career with Loblaw Companies where he managed progressive business focussing on financial planning, procurement and merchandising. During the last 8 years at Loblaws, Jamie was responsible for the development of their Natural and Organic food businesses which included the expansion of a 350 store health food chain. In 2007, Jamie joined the Rowe Farms team as Chief Executive Officer and has been instrumental in establishing a reliable food system to support their growing wholesale and retail businesses. In addition to selling locally-grown, conscientiously-raised, and antibiotic and hormone-free beef, pork, lamb and poultry, Rowe Farms and its namesake are committed to educating consumers on how 100% grass fed beef is beneficial for humans, the environment and the cow itself.


Jamie Waldron
Butcher, Landmark Group
(Hamilton, ON)
Session: Connecting with the Market — Working with Restaurants

Jamie first wet his feet at a small, country butcher shop as a young teenager. Since then, Jamie has dedicated his life to mastering the art and skill of butchering; working, learning, researching and teaching an age old craft that has fallen out of step with the current methods of purchasing and preparing food. His approach is likely a bit different from the typical butcher that most people may have become accustomed to these days; utilizing the whole animal to its fullest potential. Jamie advocates buying local, responsibly raised animals that are also antibiotic and hormone free. He currently works as a butcher with the Landmark Group.


Jim Whitehouse
Grand Valley Fortifiers (Cambridge, ON)
Session: Grass Fed Beef Production — Audits

Jim started farming in dairy but has since worked with or managed all species of livestock (except for birds.) For 20 years, he managed a 1000 head purebred swine breeding stock operation. In 2008, Jim started with Grand Valley Fortifiers and received his Auditor certificate in 2011.  Since then he has done 50 special feed label claim audits.


John Rowe
Founder, Rowe Farms
Session: Framing the Conversation — The Grass Fed Journey in Ontario

Grass Fed Beef may sound like a new concept to some but for John Rowe, the founder of Rowe Farms, it’s a movement that began back in the ‘60s. John first started raising grass fed cattle on his Guelph Ontario farm in 1968. “I started with 6; it was just for me and my family, nobody else.” Since those early days, Rowe’s numbers have steadily increased as he is now producing 30 to 33 cows a season and maintaining a herd of 100. Rowe’s passion for producing animals without the use of antibiotics, growth-promoting hormones or animal by-products is where the Rowe Farms Conscience was born. For John, his dedication to grass fed beef is a logical progression toward a more balanced food system. If you ask John why the interest in Grass Fed Beef, his answer grass fed beef.  In addition to selling locally-grown, conscientiously-raised, and antibiotic and hormone-free beef, pork, lamb and poultry, Rowe Farms and its namesake are committed to educating consumers on how 100 per cent grass fed beef is beneficial for humans, the environment and the cow itself.


Julie Day
Penokean Hills Farms (Sudbury, ON)
Session: Connecting with the Market — Collaborative Marketing and Distribution


Mike Beretta
Beretta Family Farms (Huron County, ON)
Session: Experience in the Market


Stephen Vaughansteve vaughan photo
Corporate Chef, 100 Mile Food Services (Fergus, ON)
Session: Connecting with the Market — Third Party Marketing and Distribution

Born and trained in England, Stephen Vaughan’s developmental experience included various hotels in both England and Bermuda. Upon arriving to Ontario, Stephen acquired an extensive list of culinary experience through the exposure to diverse dining styles and establishments.  These included The Elora Mill, Benjamin’s, La Bodega Restaurant, the Aberfoyle Mill, Glenerin Inn and various private golf clubs. Today, Stephen prides himself as the Corporate Chef Consultant of 100 Mile Food Services Ltd., a dedicated family owned company that locally sources food products directly from farms and growers while building a stronger farm-to-table distribution network and availability.


Tara Longo
Co-President, The Healthy Butcher (Toronto, ON)
Session: Experience in the Market

Tara Longo and Mario Fiorucci left their prosperous Bay Street careers to do the unimaginable – open an organic butcher shop.  The Healthy Butcher was born out of their frustration of the difficulty finding good quality, fresh organic meat in Toronto and the difficulty of finding good quality prepared foods to eat in the comfort of their own home when their work schedules didn’t allow for enough time to spend cooking.  So, they used their business savvy to negotiate a deal with long-time owner and furniture store operator Sol Borenstein to buy 565 Queen St West. in the heart of The Fashion District. After restoring the building to its original 1890 beauty, their goal is to provide downtown Toronto residents with a place they can trust to sell only the best organic meats and gourmet prepared foods that will bring a passion for food to their patrons’ dinner tables.