Theresa Richards, ACORN Executive Director
Theresa’s interest in organic agriculture sprouted early in her career as a health food store clerk, where she funded her way through world travels to East Asia, including Japan, and later, university. Working for retailers in both Atlantic Canada and Quebec, a highlight of her work was always talking to the farmers and artisan bakers who delivered fresh farm foods to the stores. Theresa eventually apprenticed with one of the farm suppliers - a mixed organic farm (livestock, grain and vegetables) in the Quebec Laurentians.
Following this she completed a degree in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies as part of the Faculty of Renaissance College at the University of New Brunswick, with a Minor in Environmental Studies. Her years at university afforded her the opportunity to help run the school garden, and complete an international internship in Bhutan, where she taught environmental principles to horticulture, animal husbandry and forestry students, and learned about the Bhutanese culture of subsistence agriculture and their inspiring movement to become the first certified organic country in the world!
Post university, in 2007, Theresa was delighted to secure a position with ACORN - one of her favourite farm organizations - and has been here ever since, dedicating herself to the success of various ACORN projects and events. In 2012, Theresa succeeded her mentor Beth McMahon as the Executive Director of the organization. Since then, she has since dedicated her work to creating a strong and long-term organic staff team, increasing ACORNâ€™s staff, capacity and programming accordingly. Theresa is proud to work with the many amazing farmers, growers and community members in Atlantic Canada.
Leading ACORN is the perfect career for combining her passion for farming and good, healthy food, while employing her skills toward a vision of a strong organic community in Atlantic Canada.
Tegan Renner, Outreach & Marketing Coordinator
Tegan grew up on a mixed family farm in southern Ontario, pursued a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo, and after completing her thesis research on consumer understandings of organic agriculture, has never looked back on the perfect pairing of these passions that her career in organics has proven to be.
She joined the ACORN team in 2012 after more than two years of working in the Ontario organic sector, largely managing a variety of farmer and consumer educational projects for Canadian Organic Growers (Perth-Waterloo-Wellington Chapter), but also working in the orchards at Ignatius Farm and conducting sector research for the Organic Council of Ontario.
Tegan is currently taking the lead on ACORN’s NS Outreach & Marketing project, the CSA Network and the organization’s participation in OrganicPriceTracker.ca. In her role as ACORN’s NB Coordinator, Tegan has overseen several projects focused on advancing organics in the province, and developed connections with and between producers, retailers, farmers’ markets, and other agricultural organizations. Most recently, she worked closely with members of the NB Organic Committee to support the development of the 2014-2018 NB Organic Strategic Plan and is moving forward with implementing the sector’s priorities from this plan, with a notable focus on consumer education efforts.
Never able to get enough of organics, Tegan spends her volunteer time serving as Vice-President on COG’s Board of Directors.
Stephanie Hughes, Regional Program Coordinator
(Atlantic Canada), The Bauta Family Initiative on
Canadian Seed Security
Steph joined ACORN in February of 2013. Since then she’s been working as part of The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security to support farmers and seed savers, increase ACORN’s knowledge of and involvement with seed networks, and strengthen Atlantic Canada’s wonderful, and blossoming seed movement. Steph’s work includes designing and supporting research, training, and networking projects and events for growers, as well as working within the emerging seed library movement. From ACORN’s renowned annual conference to the Bauta Initiative’s many field-based projects, Steph’s role is central to ensuring that Atlantic Canada’s seed community is visible in this work, supported by the program, and able to contribute to a national seed movement that is everyday finding itself stronger and more capable.
Steph has an academic background in International Development Studies, with a focus on food issues and a minor in Political Science, from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the execution of her work for ACORN, Steph draws upon nearly a decade of experience working in social and environmental justice movements, including years of exploration (volunteering and studying) to better understand and improve food sovereignty at the community level, both in Canada and internationally. With a particular background in community development, permaculture, and communications, Steph endeavours to bring a systems approach to this work, engaging with folks in a collaborative and empowering way. Since moving to Sackville, Steph has cultivated a love of all things flat and marshy, and uses her spare time to re-discover the natural gems of her native province.
Tara Scott, ACORN Organic Transition Coordinator
Tara Scott was raised in Northeastern New Brunswick. After studying at Nova Scotia Agricultural College and Olds College in Alberta, Tara traveled and worked in varying aspects of horticulture.
After settling in South West Ontario, Tara was a farm manager at Greenfields Farm growing and selling to Farmers’ markets and wholesaling throughout the GTA. She then co-farmed a 250 member CSA at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, in Guelph and oversaw harvest and marketing as well as trained interns in the Principles and Practices of Organic Agriculture program. She has also worked with the Organic Council of Ontario, FarmStart and Ecocert Canada.
As the Organic Transition Co-ordinator Tara works to support new entrants and existing producers in their transition to organic certification as well as facilitate season extension resources.
After being actively involved with the organic community in South Western Ontario, Tara looks forward to using these skills to support and promote agriculture in Atlantic Canada.
Jacob Works, ACORN Conference Assistant
Jacob Works is happy to join the ACORN team as a Conference Assistant. Jacob has spent the last several years involved with the board of directors for 4-H Nova Scotia and 4-H Canada helping develop future leaders in agriculture while developing his own leadership skills. Jacob spent four years on the Nova Scotia Provincial 4-H Council and three years serving on a youth advisory committee for 4-H Canada where he spent one year as the youngest observer ever on the Canadian 4-H Council.
Fresh out of university, Jacob first studied at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro and finished his education at Dalhousie University in Halifax where he earned his degree in Civil Engineering. Jacob’s academic career sharpened his problem solving and organisation skills and this allows him to really excel in the work that he does. Pursuing a degree in engineering also provided Jacob with many of the tools needed to be a successful leader.
Joining the ACORN team is more than a job; Jacob is on a mission to bring his experience working in agricultural communities to make the 2016 ACORN Conference the most inspiring conference to date.
Natalie Childs, ACORN Administrative Assistant
Natalie Childs grew up in the Ottawa/Gatineau region in a family that loves plants, food, and growing things. In her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of King’s College and McMaster University, Natalie studied ecological literature and poetry, before realizing that she needed to get her hands dirty. She has spent the past 5 years working on small and medium-scale organic vegetable and fruit farms in the Gatineau Valley of Quebec, on Salt Spring Island and in the Similkameen Valley of British Columbia. As a future farmer, she’s passionate about creating and sustaining thriving local food systems in Atlantic Canada and across the country, and is very excited to help support ACORN’s work as an administrative assistant.