Staff & Board

Executive Director

Justin Cantafio is anchored by a steadfast belief in the power of small-scale, community-based businesses to build truly sustainable social and economic development. It’s what drove him to spend his master’s degree living and working on ten organic farms from Quebec to the Pacific Coast. He’s since helped with managing Atlantic Canada’s first sustainable seafood subscription program through Off the Hook Community Supported Fishery, worked with the Ecology Action Centre to spearhead a Canada-wide program to promote locally-sourced food in schools, universities, and hospitals, and connected small-scale fishers and aquaculturalists with high-value markets across Nova Scotia and beyond with Halifax’s Afishionado Fishmongers. When he’s not crafting up ideas to re-localize our economy and promote local businesses, you might find Justin running in the woods, cooking up big hearty meals with friends, or relaxing in his tiny cabin by the sea.

President

Margaret Ells Congdon grew up on a mixed farm in the Annapolis Valley, where she gained an appreciation for working on the land, growing your own food and supporting local small business. She attended the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and received a Bachelor of Science in Plant Protection. She has lived in Great Village for the past 30-odd years, where she has gardener, raised four children and worked as a caterer and personal chef. Following the example of her parents, she has been an active volunteer with church, community and 4-H throughout the years. In January 2016 she was hired as the Manager of the Truro Farmers’ Market Cooperative. She loves her job as it gives her an opportunity to talk with customers, promote talented producers and craftspeople, partner with the community, and talk about food production and security.

Administrative & Communications Coordinator

A longtime farmers’ market supporter, Alicia Steeves comes to the cooperative with a love of local food and craft. Alicia has worked on several certified organic mixed vegetable farms, been a farmers’ market vendor, and is a florist whose inspiration stems from growing and designing with local flowers. With a background in writing and photography, along with over five years of experience as the social media coordinator for the award-winning Halifax Crafters Society craft market, Alicia is passionate about promoting local products, makers and markets by
telling their stories.

Vice President

Being a child of a military family, Steve Hopper had opportunity to travel and live in exotic places, but he mainly spent his formative years growing up in the Annapolis Valley. As a youth, Steve learned an appreciation for agriculture by picking strawberries in the summers and apples in the fall. It was the practice in those days for schools to send students to harvest the apple crop as labour was hard to find. Following in his father’s footsteps, Steve spent 32 years in the Canadian Forces, travelling and living in foreign lands. For many years, Steve was active with Scouts Canada as a leader and involved with many other organizations. Upon retirement, Steve began full-time work with Ashwurks Inc., a small woodworking business that mainly sells its products at local farmers’ markets around the Halifax region. Steve is looking forward to being part of the next exciting phase of growth for the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Cooperative, working with very talented team members with genuine interest in sustaining a healthy farming community.

Member At Large

Pauline Singer is originally from Spryfield, NS. She spent time in the Canadian Armed Forces and also worked in the Insurance Industry. She moved with her family to a hobby farm in Coxheath, Cape Breton in 2001 and has been in love with the Island ever since.

A staunch supporter of everything local, Pauline works with children teaching them how to grow their own food and educate them on the benefits of eating local through her work with the Cape Breton Regional Centre for Education. She also works at Breton Ability facilitating the garden/greenhouse program that allows residents to get hands on experience growing produce that then is used on-site, and was a founding member of the Spanish Bay Women’s Institute.

Pauline became involved with the Cape Breton Farmers Market in 2012 as a vendor and in 2015 took on the role of Manager. She is grateful to be a part of the FMNS Board of Directors and help grow our local economy. You can find her every Saturday greeting customers and welcoming them to the market.

Marketing & Outreach Coordinator

Emily Lawrence is driven by her passion for promoting the work of small businesses and local craftspeople. Raised working in her family’s artisan bakery, she’s passionate about the connection between food and community. As an artist, crafter, and baker, Emily typically has her fingers in multiple creative pots at once. Throughout her education at NSCAD University obtaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts, Emily worked with local organizations in the arts and culture sector. While cooking up and promoting projects and fundraisers, she developed an affinity for the swift, visual language of marketing and has specialized in this work ever since. Emily moved to Halifax from Ontario in 2012, and is now hooked on living next to the ocean.

Secretary

Jessie Palmer grew up on an organic farm in Cape Breton and has been a vendor at markets across Nova Scotia since she was a teen. As an adult, she spent years overseas frequenting local markets and loved developing connections with the vendors. She founded Cabbage Patch Kimchi in 2015, and has grown the company through the Halifax Forum Farmers’ Market, Seaport Market and currently sells at the Halifax Brewery Market. Her products are now carried in stores across the province. Jessie holds a degree in international development from Dalhousie and lives in Halifax where she also works with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. She is excited to be a part of the board to help promote and support local markets.

Member at Large

Robin Johnston is originally from the Ottawa Valley in Ontario. She moved to Nova Scotia in 2013 to work on an organic vegetable farm and fell in love with farming and the East Coast. After several years of working on farms and operating a farm business solo, she joined Soil Mates Farm as an owner-operator in 2018. Beyond farming Robin enjoys cooking, fermenting, knitting and trips to the beach. Photo: Alex Pearson