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Babe Alert : The Women of Ontario’s Local Food Scene

Ontario’s food scene has no shortage of driven, talented women. In honour of the approaching Women in Agriculture Conference, we thought we’d take a moment to recognize the contributions women are currently making to the agricultural, culinary, hospitality and local food landscape of Ontario.

So here’s to the trail-blazers, and the entrepreneurs. Here’s to women on farms, in fields, and in kitchens. To the women who write policy, who write grants, or who are working to write food into the curriculum, we salute you!

Though far from comprehensive, here are just some of the amazing women who are currently driving Ontario’s local food scene:


Dilya Niezova
If you’re looking to put your finger on the pulse of the youth food movement in Toronto, Dilya is the person to talk to. A perpetual student of food insecurity and social justice, Dilya is the current Chair of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, who work to engage Toronto�s diverse young communities to find solutions to food insecurity.

bio-picSue Arndt 
Formerly of Evergreen Canada, Sue is the Project Director of Not Far From the Tree. NFFTT is Toronto�s very own fruit tree project, inspiring Torontonians to harvest, share, celebrate, and steward the bounty from our urban forest. Each year, a roster of volunteers picks urban tree fruit (over 100,000 pounds, to date!), and distribute it to different agencies.  

christie-young-and-sonChristie Young
Christie is the Founder and Executive Director of Farmstart, which aims to encourage and support a new generation of entrepreneurial, ecological farmers. She worked for several years with FoodShare in Toronto, organizing the Field to Table Festival, and was a founding Board member of Local Food Plus. 


Tara Simpson
Tara is our go-to source for all things local food in Ottawa. She is the Editor of Edible Ottawa, a magazine which celebrates local food culture season by season, community by community, with a focus on Ontario’s Capital Region. Tara is also the Manager of Communications and Events for Ottawa Farmers� Market.


Crystal Mackay
Crystal is the Executive Director of Farm and Food Care Ontario, which brings farmers, agricultural professionals, related businesses, government organizations and other groups together with a mandate to provide credible information on food and farming in Ontario. Hear her speak this October, at the Advancing Women : Life Skills for Leadership – Women in Agriculture Conference.

christinaChristina Mann
Since 2010, Christina has been the Coordinator of Taste Real, in Guelph/Wellington. Taste Real’s goal is to support local small businesses and farms to build stronger rural communities and grow vibrant, local food economies and food tourism destinations in Ontario.


Grace Mandarano
Grace is the Co-founder and Co-owner of 100KM Foods, an award-winning local food distribution company. 100km Foods specializes in the sale and distribution of local, sustainable Ontario foods.


Arlene Stein
Arlene is the Founder and Chair of the annual Terroir Hospitality Industry Symposium, the only gathering of its kind in Canada, and a space for chefs, food producers and hospitality industry leaders to talk about the issues that matter to them.

rebecca-leheup-at-octaRebecca MacKenzie
She’s always at the top of our list, but we’re definitely biased! Rebecca is the Executive Director of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, and we’ve learned a lot from her about developing taste of place and local food experiences. Rebecca has been instrumental in developing culinary tourism products including Prince Edward County�s award winning Taste Trail and OCTA�s Feast ON program to name a few.


Anita Stewart
Anita is the Founder and Director of Food Day Canada, Canada’s largest local food event. She is also Food Laureate of University of Guelph, and has been referred to by the National Post as ‘The Wonder Woman of Canadian Cuisine’. Anita has even received the Order of Canada, for her contributions to Canada’s culinary landscape. In short, she rocks.

Want to learn more? There are several events on the horizon which bring to our attention the contributions of women in the world of food. Consider adding these to your calendar: