As the newest Director on the Board, Armand has a unique blend of experience in dairy farming and corporate agrifood — business strategy, finance, and governance.
For Armand, dairy has always been a part of his life. His grandfather started their family farm in 1953 in the Peace River region of Alberta, and he fondly remembers helping out as a young boy. Armand became a partner in the business in 1988, and in 2020 he took on more responsibility as the President, working with their Lead Herdsman, Supervisors and Managers going through progress on operations.
When he’s away from the farm, Armand spends his leisure time curling, hiking, or playing cards with his three daughters. He also enjoys travelling, particularly to Italy, since he is an avid wine connoisseur. Armand sees himself continuing to enjoy a combination of pleasure activities and work for a long time to come, even after he retires!
With over 34 years of experience in the food industry, Cathy’s face lights up as she dives into how she got started in the industry and developed her passion for working in dairy.
“I always knew I would work in dairy in some capacity because I’ve always been a big milk drinker. Everything was always about milk. Once I realized making cheese is an art, it became an addiction to make the best product, better than anyone else on the floor.”
Having spent 30 years working in different roles at Safeway – from picking orders in the warehouse, to doing relief work Cleaning in Place, to inventory control, to working as a pasteurizer, to taking on a supervisory role with Lucerne – Cathy has a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience that she brought to Meadowfresh in 2017.
Coming from a long line of dairy farmers, Jacqueline is committed to continuing her family legacy with her husband and four children. Having grown up on a multi-generational farm, Jacqueline developed a strong work ethic from a young age. For her, farming is in her blood, and it’s a family endeavour — something she proudly does with her parents and three brothers (as well as all their spouses and children). Together they have 650 purebred Holstein milking cows, an organic Layer farm, a specialty Broiler farm, and a retail business.
“I farm because I love it! I’m passionate about making sure Canadian families have good quality food that comes from local sources. I want to ensure they have choices – to have food that is grown and produced locally for the rest of their lives.”
In addition to farming, Jacqueline sits on the Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee for the City of Chilliwack, the Finance and Audit Committee for the BC Dairy Association, and joined Agrifoods’ Delegate body earlier this year.
Nancy Korva has always had a passion for natural foods, a commitment to making a difference in her community and a keen ability and skill set to help businesses achieve their growth potential. This combination led Nancy to be named Senior VP Dairy for Agrifoods, responsible for the dairy division, this past summer.
But Nancy isn’t new to Agrifoods Cooperative and its family of brands. In fact, Nancy has been part of the ‘family’ for 20 years!
Growing up in Windsor, Ontario, Nancy moved to Vancouver in 1990 to pursue her love of natural foods. She soon met Randal Ius (co-founder of Happy Planet) while working at a natural foods retailer and the business connection was instant! In 1996 she joined Randal at Happy Planet, learning the business and helping the start-up grow from the ground up. After eight years, Nancy joined Discovery Organics where she successfully assisted them expand their business into the U.S. and Mexico. Two years later, she rejoined Happy Planet as the Director of Operations in 2006, then moving into a Director of Procurement and Logistics role at Earth’s Own in 2011.
Shortly after Agrifoods Cooperative acquired Organic Meadow in November 2015, Nancy was named the General Manager and found herself back in Ontario. And in less than two years, the Organic Meadow business has turned from a state of receivership to experiencing over 20% growth.
Now as the Senior VP Dairy for Agrifoods, dairy is always top of mind (and stomach!) for Nancy as she admits that her free time is spent with her family and partner, Greg, searching for the best ice cream parlours in Ontario.
“No day is ever typical at The Meadow – as part of a small team, you learn to wear many different hats!” says Michelle Schmidt, Marketing Manager of Organic Meadow.
Although Michelle’s main ‘hat’ is overseeing marketing and consumer communications for Organic Meadow, she continues to play many different parts as in this past year alone, they’ve launched over 15 new products and re-branded their entire packaging portfolio (that’s over 60 individual skus!)
Prior to coming to the Meadow, Michelle honed her marketing skills with PepsiCo Foods and then her dedication to community service took her to volunteer overseas.
Once back in Canada, Michelle joined the Organic Meadow team and after almost five years, what keeps her excited about going to ‘the Meadow’ each day? “So many things! The people, the culture, the variety and the products themselves. I feel a great sense of pride; I’m very proud of the products our team is able to create for Canadian families and feel like we’re making a positive impact.”
When Michelle isn’t juggling different hats at the Meadow, you most likely can find her jogging (more like running after her 5-year old son!), baking, traveling with her family or trying to master her fourth language, Polish. Note: Michelle already speaks English, French and Spanish!
“I grew up on a farm and dairy farming is a lifestyle I’ve always loved,” says Mark van Zeggelaar proud Agrifoods Cooperative Delegate and dairy producer in Picture Butte, AB.
Dairy farming has been in the van Zeggelaar family since the mid-1960’s and Mark, a third- generation farmer, runs the 180-head Starlane Holsteins in Southern Alberta with his mom, wife, brother and sister-in-law.
What keeps Mark interested in farming after so many years? “No two days are the same; you’re working with living creatures so there are always new surprises and challenges each and every day! Plus our cows are truly an extension of our family with their own personalities….you develop a bond with each one of them.”
After working on the farm since the time he could walk, the one thing that Mark has welcomed in the past 5 years is the installation of robot milkers – which means he can now sleep in until 6am!
On the rare occasion that they do take a very short break from the farm, Mark, his wife and their two young children enjoy fishing and camping but are always eager to get back to the farm, to the lifestyle they know and love.
Mark has also been an Agrifoods Cooperative Delegate for Alberta since 2015 and says that it’s always exciting to hear about Agrifoods’ brands launching new, innovative products and knowing that he has an ownership in those brands. “I feel proud when I see our brands’ products at grocery stores and see how shoppers grab them up!”
Will Mark ever retire from farming? Probably not but admits that when his children are much older and can help run the farm that he may have time to take up a hobby….although I’m sure it will farming-related!
Rene Miedema and his father Bouwe are dairy farmers in Enderby, BC, where they own and operate Bomi Farms. Bouwe immigrated to Vancouver from Holland, spent some time working in Sicamous, and eventually bought Bomi Farms in 1976 — the year after Rene was born.
Being raised on a dairy farm, Rene was taught the importance of loving the animals and working the crops. Like his father, he too believes that the farm is a perfect place to raise his family with his wife, Jessica.
Everyday on the farm is different and the Miedema’s take on the daily challenges with pride. Bouwe is a wealth of knowledge and always points Rene in the right direction; together they work as a team because they love what they do. In Bouwe’s words, “You gotta love what you do, or you won’t succeed”.
Profile provided courtesy of the BC Dairy Association.
Orchestrating 15 different driving routes servicing 162 dairy producers throughout Saskatchewan and ensuring to the minute timing is all in a day’s work for Mike Kennedy.
When Mike started with Agrifoods Cooperative 10 years ago as a Relief Driver, he had to learn all of the different routes and how to maneuver on the all-weather, unforgiving roads through the backcountry of rural Saskatchewan. When an opportunity opened up, Mike took on a
permanent driving position and a year and half ago, he moved into the Lead Hand position.
As a Lead Hand Mike schedules the loads in and out; all of the pick ups from the farms throughout Saskatchewan and then the deliveries to the dairies scattered across the western provinces, ensuring that they are on time, every day…. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather! And it truly is an around the clock operation as only once, 10 years ago, that due to a severe snow storm the highways were all shutdown and they weren’t able to pick up the milk for just one day.
Living in Saskatchewan for the past 52 years, Mike has developed a love for fishing in the province’s northern lakes and getting out into the quiet wilderness. Now that his two children are long since grown-up, you can also find Mike enjoying his spare time building and flying remote control airplanes.
Meet the De Jongs – dairy farmers in Abbotsford, BC
“Buying and consuming locally produced food is one of the most environmentally responsible activities that consumers can do. It stimulates the local economy. It saves on transportation caused pollutants. It ensures a fresh product. I hope this is not a passing fad, but a gateway to stimulate change in agriculture in all regions of our province.”
With more then 35 years of dairy farming under his belt, Ted De Jong comes from a long history of dairy farmers spanning more then 3 generations. It’s safe to say Ted knows a thing or two about the business and uses this know how to continue building an efficient, and sustainable dairy farm where people, cattle, and the land are healthy, happy and productive.
Proponents of hard and honest work, the De Jong family takes immense pride in producing an exceptionally high quality product day in and day out that feeds and nourishes their local community. As Ted is the first to tell you, this truly is the richest return on his work.
Randal Ius, the husband of Marie Dorsey and the father of three smoothie and soup fanatic children, is the Co-Founder and VP Business Development at Happy Planet.
Over the past 20 years, Randal has applied his versatility to every job the company has needed done – his infatuation with connecting people to tasty, nutritious food and drink helps to keep Happy Planet on the cutting edge of the Canadian grocery food scene.
A North Vancouver, BC native, Randal grew up on one of the few true urban farms – his father an avid organic food grower, and raiser of chickens and rabbits imparted his kids with the love of the planet and wholesome ‘local food’. Randal attended Simon Fraser University and BCIT before starting his first venture in 1984, a chocolate manufacturing company which he sold to open some of Vancouver’s first mountain bike shops which he sold to launch Happy Planet.
In his spare time he also serves as the Player Agent for the North Vancouver Little League and he coaches a boys U12 All Star travel team, which keeps him humble and certain that he still has much to learn.