Staff & Board
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.
Rebekkah Hyams’ path to Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia has been interwoven with recurring themes of food and connection. Starting out volunteering in community kitchens and working in several restaurants in her hometown in Germany in her teens, she witnessed firsthand how the seemingly simple act of nourishing others can be a powerful vehicle to break down social isolation. A strong belief in community engagement has continued to be a driving factor in Rebekkah’s life, leading her through diverse experiences – from meals on wheels kitchens in Montréal to working on refugee rights in Johannesburg and foreign affairs in London. As a trained chef, Rebekkah knows the real and enduring influence that feeding those around us can have on building relationships, and on our sense of true belonging. These days you can often find her out exploring Nova Scotia’s many beaches with her twin boys or diligently hunting down the best pastries and coffee the region has to offer.
Rachael Browne is originally from Australia and moved to the Annapolis County in December 2020. She took on the task of Manager at the Annapolis Royal Farmers and Traders Market at the start of the 2021 season. Not a stranger to growing food or farmers markets, Rachael has spent the majority of her life travelling the world and has always had a great appreciation for supporting local in the places that she visits. Filled with ideas on how she can make a difference in the world, Rachael is very excited to be on the board to support farmers’ markets throughout Nova Scotia.
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
Communications & Creative Lead
Emily Lawrence combines artistry with marketing and culinary experience and bakes it at 350 degrees. Raised working in her family’s bakery, she’s always been passionate about the connection between food, craft and community. Emily has worked as a promotions specialist and content creator for a variety of food and craft based businesses and organizations. As an artist and maker, she has an affinity for the visual language of marketing through photography and digital storytelling. In her spare time, Emily can be found baking cakes and growing flowers.
Margaret Ells 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 businesses. She attended the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and received a Bachelor of Science in Plant Protection. She lived in Great Village for 30-odd years, where she gardened, raised four amazing 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. Margaret was proud to serve as the Manager of the Truro Farmers’ Market Cooperative for over 6 years, before joining the NS Federation of Agriculture as Training & Awareness Coordinator. She loves Farmers’ Markets as they give the opportunity to promote talented producers and craftspeople, partner with communities, engage with the public and talk about food production and security.
Gareth Winsor was born and raised in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. However, growing up Gareth spent his summer vacations alternating between his great uncle’s cattle and grain farm in the Canadian Prairies and his grandfather’s lobster fishing wharf in Newfoundland. Some of his earliest memories are of exploring old barns and farmland and playing around lobster traps and fishing nets.
This exposure to farming and fishing nurtured both a respect for the importance of local food producers and their role in local economies, as well as a passion for cooking with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. These sentiments were further reinforced in 2006 when he moved to the Annapolis Valley where he was overwhelmed with the quality and variety of locally harvested food. Gareth now lives in Halifax and works in corporate finance as a CPA. On weekends, you can find him fly fishing, hiking, camping or putting his feet up at his cottage.
Member at Large
Therese Cruz’s desire to foster community spirit while promoting local artisans and producers is what motivated her to become involved in the organizing and setup of markets. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, then immigrating to Toronto, Ontario, has given her a unique perspective on food accessibility and security, as well as the various cultural relationships surrounding food. She has over 15 years of experience in the food service and retail industries, and that helps her create a well-curated experience as a Director of the Shelburne Guild Hall Market. She also is a jewellery artist which enables her to understand how much markets are vital to thriving communities by supporting small businesses and keeping local economies going. As a witness to how a farmers’ market can change the dynamic of a community in a positive way, Therese would like to continue to play an active role in that, in a much broader scale through the FMNS.
Membership & Programs Lead
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.
Ashley Marlin has managed farmers’ markets on the South Shore of Nova Scotia since 2009. She brings experience working with local producers, artisans, not-for- profit groups, volunteers, students, and government. She has previously served on the board of Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia for six years as secretary and president. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Saint Mary’s University in biology and environmental studies. She is passionate about a strong sustainable local economy.
Member at Large
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.