Chris Bodnar co-owns and operates Close to Home Organics with his wife, Paige, at Glen Valley Organic Farm in Abbotsford. Now in their tenth season of farming, Chris and his family have learned some of the challenges and opportunities of farming on a small scale in the organic sector. They operate a 135-member Community Shared Agriculture program and sell at two weekly farmers markets during the farming season. Prior to farming Chris earned a PhD in Communication from Carleton University. His academic interests continue through teaching and writing. Chris teaches the business planning components of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Sustainable Agriculture program. Chris sits on the board of the Mounth Lehman Credit Union. He does business planning consulting with small-scale farmers and is a mentor with the Young Agrarians’ BC Business Mentorship Network.
Paul Kelly is the General Manager of the Kootenay Co-op. He has 20 years of experience in the natural foods industry, from volunteering at a small organic bakery & store near Faenza, Italy, in his youth, to more recently as Director of Marketing and Purchasing for Community Natural Foods in Calgary. He is passionate about revitalizing the local value-added food chain, and helping to make organic food choices more affordable for Kootenay families. He, his wife and two kids have been living on a small farm in the Slocan Valley since 2008, and produce much of their own food including veggies, milk, eggs and meat.
Lavinia Lidstone is the owner of Kootenay Kombucha, a small batch craft brewery in Slocan Valley, BC. The brewery is built from a passion for health and whole foods. We celebrate the abundance and way of life in the Kootenays by brewing delicious and potent probiotic herbal elixirs.
“I have wanted to be involved in nutrtition and helping people as a career since a young age, I can remember writing that I’d be a nutritionist in one of my elementary school science classes. Starting a business didn’t become a dream until I was 19, after traveling through Europe, Central America and the Western US I felt ready to settle down at age 22 in Nelson. I’m so happy to call the Kootenays home, and I feel so much gratitude towards the local businesses who have been so supportive of my vision for less packaging and local kombucha, saving on fossil fuels from importing heavy shipments. Kombucha is a growing market here in the Kootenays and I am working to make it as sustainable as possible. Thanks everyone for supporting Kootenay Kombucha locally and beyond.”
Sylvia dreams of a prosperous and resilient food industry. As an experienced coach, facilitator and consultant, she provides much-needed training and services to help small-scale food processors achieve more.
Sylvia’s profound understanding of food processing stems from her education in Food Science from the University of Guelph, where she completed both a B.Sc. and M.Sc. She has served in many industry roles, from quality assurance to research, marketing, product development and regulatory compliance.
With over 15 years of technical experience in the food processing and natural health product industries, he approach is refreshing and inspiring. Sylvia has the unique ability to put technical jargon into layman’s terms. She listens to her clients’ needs and identifies challenges and their unique solutions. Sylvia identifies opportunities and expertly navigates the path to capture them.
Her recent accomplishments include: (1) helping clients access grants and funding; (2) developing innovative food products; (3) developing and maintaining robust food safety management systems; (4) coaching clients from concept to commercialization; (5) design of processing technologies, compliant labels and effective packaging solutions, and; (6) facilitating industry workshops.