2021 Yorkshire Valley Farms Canadian Eco-Scholar Award - Yorkshire Valley Farms

2021 Yorkshire Valley Farms Canadian Eco-Scholar Award

Congratulations to the 2021 Eco-Scholars!

Yorkshire Valley Farms and the Guelph Organic Conference are pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Canadian Eco-Scholar Award. Thank you to all the applicants – your passion and ideas offer powerful inspiration and we are excited by the positive impact you are working to have on your communities. 

This year’s winners embody the values of the organic regenerative community and we believe their ideas will help to actively shape the future of organic regenerative agriculture.

Meet the 2021 Eco-Scholars

Video created by Jacob Calverley, Graphic Design Student, Toronto Film School


Michelle Carkner – $5,000

University of Manitoba
PhD, Plant Science

Molly Thomas – $2,000

University of Alberta
MSc in Urban and Regional Planning

Kyra Lightburn – $2,000

University of Guelph
Doctor of Philosophy
Department of Plant Agriculture

Sye Perry – $1,000

Catholic Central High School
Attending University of British Columbia Fall 2021
Forest Bioeconomy Science and Technology

About the Award

The Yorkshire Valley Farms Canadian Eco-Scholar Award is open to all residents of Canada, except Quebec, who are 16 years of age or older, and are full-time students actively enrolled in a Canadian academic institution. All areas of study are eligible – what matters is that you are passionate about agriculture and how it can be a force for good in our society.

Application details, including full rules and regulations, can be found on the Guelph Organic Conference website.

Judge Profiles

GABRIELLE BASTIEN, Founder & Co-Director, Regeneration Canada

Gabrielle founded Regeneration Canada in 2017, a non-profit dedicated to promoting regenerative land management as a way to mitigate climate change and foster healthy food systems. She holds a Masters degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University. Today, Regeneration Canada gathers a vast network of farmers, agronomists, researchers, businesses, non-profits and citizens from across the country who are committed to contributing to regenerating soil health. Through its Living Soils Symposium and other initiatives, the organization informs, connects, mobilizes and inspires people from all walks of life to play their role in the regenerative movement.

ANAHITA BELANGER, Vetta Nordic Spa / Fair Finance Fund / SheEO Network

Anahita is passionate about connecting conscious eaters to local family farms. As Food and Beverage Lead at Vetta Nordic Spa, she curates farm to fork food experiences. She also enjoys supporting local food and farm entrepreneurs as a Fair Finance Fund Program Advisor.  In addition, Anahita is a founding Activator of the SheEO network, a unique global fund created by a radically generous community who invest in entrepreneurs building an inclusive and regenerative world. Anahita pasture raises heritage hogs and hens, and grows vegetables as well as medicinal plants on her certified organic farm in Hillsdale, Ontario.

BEN CULLEN, Cullen’s Foods

Ben Cullen is founder of Cullen’s Foods, which buys, processes and sells Canadian-grown organic beans under the Cullen’s brand name. Ben is passionate about organic agriculture and seeing more young people enter the sector. You can learn more about Ben and Cullen’s at www.cullensfoods.com

PADDY DOHERTY, West Enderby Farm

After graduating from high school in Vancouver, Paddy lived on a hippie commune in the Cariboo for three years. This experienced influenced the rest of his life, as he went on to found Dragon Mountain Farm—along with two partners, Paddy developed this organic vegetable and sheep farm from 1979 until 2008, when he left the farm to join his wife in Vancouver where she was teaching at UBC Farm. While operating a commercial organic farm, Paddy held many posts within the Canadian and international organic movement, working with organizations like COABC, Pacific Agricultural Certification Society, IFOAM, BC Agricultural Council, Canada Organic Initiative Project, and Canada Organic Roundtable. Paddy and his wife, Elaine, now own and operate West Enderby Farm in the North Okanagan. They grow winter storage crops.

TRAVIS HEIDEOne Organic Farm

Travis grew up on a family farm outside of Moosomin, Saskatchewan. His earliest memories are of working with his brothers, his father, and his grandfather. When he decided not to take the reins on the family farm, he pursued a business degree and starting a company in grain trading. With his knowledge of agriculture and trade and an inclination to help others, Travis traveled to South Sudan and developed a series of farmlands, helping improve farming practices in the developing and landlocked country. Even without some of the basic farming luxuries and resources, Travis left feeling inspired by what hard work alone could accomplish.

DAVE LOCKMAN, Organic Regulations and Certification Specialist

Dave Lockman is an organic regulations and certification specialist with over 13 years experience in the organic certification industry and over 20 years of experience in the agri-food industry. He holds a masters in business administration (MBA) in agri-food from Laval University and a bachelor of science in agriculture from the University of Guelph. Dave sits on the board of Organic Food Conferences Canada, a non-profit organization which manages the yearly Guelph Organic Conference. Dave also sits on various committees within the organic industry providing consultancy services to other non-profit organizations. He is currently employed as an organic program coordinator at the Centre for Systems Integration (CSI), a CFIA accredited organic certification body. CSI is a Canadian non-profit organization whose mission is to provide cost-effective certification programs.

TIA LOFTSGARD, Canada Organic Trade Association

Tia Loftsgard is the Executive Director of the Canada Organic Trade Association. Tia has worked in the field of organic and international agricultural trade for over 20 years.  She got her start in the business by founding the first ever Fairtrade organic chocolate company (Camino) and has held senior roles with Fairtrade International, most recently as the Chief Operating Officer of Fairtrade America.  Tia is currently a voting member of the Organic Standards Technical Committee, the Organic Value Chain Roundtable, and holds leadership positions on several committees and task forces that advance the organic sector.

MAGINDA MAGENDRATHAJANAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Maginda is a public servant and passionate about climate action. Prior to joining Environment and Climate Change Canada, she worked with Agriculture Agri-Food Canada’s National Agroclimate Information Service to monitor how extreme weather and climate impact agriculture in Canada. Working directly with farmers facing climate impacts fed Maginda’s interest in climate-related issues and impressed upon her the time-sensitive nature of climate change. She completed a Master of Climate Change degree from the University of Waterloo in 2020 and now works for the Canadian Centre for Climate Services’ service delivery team. A 2020 Eco-Scholar, Maginda is passionate about organic farming and its climate mitigation potential.

KELLY MONAGHAN, Ash Street Organics

Kelly works in Canada and the United States as an organic inspector, reviewer, consultant and trainer. She is an Accredited Process Inspector of the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA). Kelly works with several certification bodies as an inspector and works with companies of all sizes in navigating the process to obtain organic certification. As a curriculum designer and trainer, Kelly shares her knowledge of organic standards and regulations with organic inspectors, certifier staff and governmental agencies. She has an MBA from York University in Toronto and can be reached via www.ashstreetorganics.com.

HAIDI WU, Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph

Haidi is passionate about biodiversity and the role of regenerative agriculture in conserving biodiversity. While in high school, she cofounded the Ontario Nature Youth Council’s campaign, “Bringing On Biodiversity”, in which youths across Ontario are given the tools to be biodiversity ambassadors in their home communities. She is currently co-leading the campaign while completing her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph. Her experiences as a 2020 Eco-Scholar fed her desire to learn about the interactions between various plants, soil, and insects and how we can work with nature to sustainably feed a growing population.