Board + Staff

Meet our Board
You may recognize some of the faces behind the NFU-O. That’s because they’re Ontario farmers, and farm all across the provincethey might even farm in the same county that you do.

Before they held leadership positions within the NFU-O, they were actively involved in their Local. We welcome any farming member to get involved in the governance of their Local, and we hope to see your face up here over the next few years!

Don Ciparis
NFU-O President

Don Ciparis has been a grains and oilseeds producer in the Rodney area of Elgin County since 1986. He has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo and has participated as a Binational Public Forum member on the Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan and is a director on the Elgin County Grains and Oilseeds Association. He has been on the Board of the National Farmers Union – Ontario since 2016 and was acclaimed as the NFU-O President last week.

Roger Rivest
National Board Member
Local 353

Roger grew up on a mixed farm in Staples ON. He graduated with a Food Technology degree from St. Clair College. He started transitioning one farm in 1987 & that farm was organic certified in 1990. He then transitioned and certified an additional 100 acres for the next 6 years, and started a CSA in 1991 through 1993. He started two successful businesses, Roger Rivest Marketing and Nature Lane Farms Organic Fertilizer, both of which closed when he retired in 2018. A year into retirement Roger got bored, and built a greenhouse and expanded his garden to 2 acres to supply health food stores and restaurants in Chatham and Wheatley. He raises pastured chickens—for both meat and eggs. Roger is also a long time member of COG and a Board member of EFAO.

Madeline Marmor
National Board Member
Local 340

Madeline Marmor, a descendant of vegetable grocers and kosher butchers, is a landless settler farmer born in downtown Toronto. Madeline has experience growing flowers, vegetables, livestock and legumes on the current and traditional lands of the Houdensaunee, Anishinabewaki, Attiwonderonk (Neutral), Mississauga and Petun Nations. Madeline became a member of the NFU in the spring of 2019 after attending the NFU’s Youth Convergence. She has served as Region 3 Youth Advisor and as the International Program’s Committee Co-Chair. She has been a farm intern, farm volunteer, farmworker and part of a farm management team. The priority and privileges of these different positions have informed Madeline’s dedication to food sovereignty and agroecology work within the Union, and the food sector in Canada/Turtle Island overall.

Arwa de Groot
Women’s Advisor
Local 340

Arwa returned to the family farm after pursuing a BFA in film production and working in the industry in Toronto. She farms with her father on their organic dairy farm where she is primarily responsible for the 80 head herd. Passionate about public education concerning farming and environmental issues, they have opened their farm to visitors during the growing season. Arwa has been involved with her Local in Waterloo/Wellington taking on a variety of roles over the past decade and is looking forward to contributing further on the council.

Cheyenne Sundance
Youth Advisor
Local 305

Cheyenne is the owner and manager of Sundance Harvest, year-round 1/3 acre + rooftop flower farm in Toronto, ON that’s rooted in food justice and eradicating systemic racism in the food system. Sundance Harvest grows a variety of produce and runs a free educational program called Growing in the Margins for low-income youth who are a part of a marginalized group (BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+ and youth with disabilities). As a organic farmer, Cheyenne has worked in both rural and urban settings where she tended to fields of vegetables, fruit forests and livestock. Her farming has always been with a social justice framework since being able to grow your own food is the foundation of independence. She is a food justice educator with experience working in community organizing and political resistance movements.  

Max Hansgen
Councillor-at-Large
Local 310

Max works with his wife Shelagh in their market garden called Earth’s Mirth just outside of Lanark Village in eastern Ontario. Earth’s Mirth grows vegetables to sell at the Almonte Farmers’ Market and for a food box program. His first paying job was harvesting and processing garlic on a large organic farm in the area. For two years after high school he worked as a paid intern/apprentice on a bio-dynamic farm. There he found a lifetime interest in sustainable farm practices by helping tend to pigs, goats, diverse vegetable crops, and by working with horses. For the past 15 years Max has worked at Kiwi Gardens where he currently manages production of ornamental perennials, maintenance of display gardens and retail sales at the nursery. Max has been selling Kiwi Gardens’ plants through farmers markets for many years.

Brendan Grant
Councillor-at-Large
Local 333

Brendan and his wife Marcelle Paulin own Sleepy G Farm along the north shore of Lake Superior outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario where they produce certified organic vegetables and beef from a small herd of Shorthorn cattle. A strong advocate of regional food systems, Brendan has spent 15 years building a highly productive farm in a region with significant climate limitations and a modest agricultural history. He built an on-farm vegetable storage facility that enables the farm to wholesale and direct market vegetables to local consumers nearly year-round. He asserts that farming is a professional occupation, and that the key to food sovereignty in the future is to get more farmers in the field now!

Ken Bassindale
Councillor-at-Large
Local 301

Ken and his wife Lisa farm 530 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay as well as cover crops in Haldimand County. He has a 25 cow/calf operation of Polled Herefords and he also runs an apiary under the name KBee’s. He plans to try his hand at raising chickens—for both meat and eggs—this summer. He is a member of the EFAO and is currently working toward regenerative practices on the farm as well as a holistic approach to management. He still manages to muster dawning the pads for some recreational hockey and enjoys spending time with his 4 grandchildren.

If you’d like to contact any of our board by phone, please contact the NFU-O provincial office at 1-888-832-9638.

Meet our Staff 

While our team may be small, we’re mighty! Our crew maintains all the daily activities keeps the NFU-O up and running. But that’s not all, folks–we also take on a number of programs and special projects that help to advance the goals and objectives of the NFU-O. Our team certainly knows how to make hay when the sun shines.

Sarah Bakker 
General Manager
Contact Sarah

Sarah has been farming in the Kawartha Lakes region since 2005 and is an active member of Local 345. She farms 100 acres with her family and raises pastured chicken and grass fed and finished beef. Sarah brings her background in marketing and fundraising multi-million dollar projects to the NFU-O, which has helped her grow the organization over the past seven years. 

Aric McBay
Membership Development and Special Projects Manager
Contact Aric

Aric farms near Kingston, Ontario, and is an experienced community organizer. He was active in the NFU-O’s Food Down the Road Project, the New Farm Project, and the Save Our Prison Farms campaign. Aric works to develop new projects for the NFU-O, to facilitate training workshops, and to strengthen the NFU-O’s connections with allied organizations.

Looking for general contact information for the NFU-O? You can find it here.

Interested landowners should contact SVCA by email: stewardship@svca.on.ca or by calling Brittany Taylor, Water Resources Technician at 519-369-4475 and you can go to our website at Stewardship (svca.on.ca)

Read more about the program here.