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About us

Led by the heart and the head

From the beginning, Withrow Park Farmers’ Market has been managed by local residents wanting to enhance their community, support local organic farmers and food producers, and make it easier for shoppers to access fantastic food. The market’s first season was in 2006. It has been well-supported and well-loved since then.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Eleanor Belais (Treasurer), Lanrick Bennett Jr., Janet Robins, Estelle Taylor (Chair), Mary Vallis, and Benetta Yogendran (Secretary)

MARKET MANAGER

Chantal Stepa

VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR

Melissa Serafino

OPERATIONS COMMITTEE

Lauren Harvey, Janet Robins (Chair), Meg Shannon, Anastasia Sudetic, and Stacey Waspe

POLICY COMMITTEE

Estelle Taylor and Lanrick Bennett Jr.

FINANCE COMMITTEE

Eleanor Belais (Chair) and Estelle Taylor

Estelle Taylor – A committed city person, Estelle nonetheless has enduring connections to farming, with grandparents who farmed and relatives who still do. Estelle helped to start a farmers’ market in Vancouver and moved to Zambia for a while to support small-scale farmers there. She claims she herself is able to grow tomatoes but none of us are yet convinced. linkedin.com/in/estelletaylor/

Mary Vallis Cowan is a journalist, educator and entrepreneur. For her, the market represents a place to bring people together, build social capital and showcase creativity. She is particularly fond of watermelon radishes.

Meg Shannon is a writer, communicator, and proud Riverdale resident. Volunteering with the Withrow Park Farmers’ Market is a way for her to connect with her neighbourhood and help create the wonderful sense of community that is one of her favourite parts of living in this part of Toronto. She tends not to choose favourites, but she particularly enjoys parsnips and puts garlic in everything she can.

Benetta Yogendran is a senior project manager with 8 years of experience in project management, consulting, and CPG operations. She is currently pursuing her MBA at Queen’s Smith School of Business. For her the market presents an opportunity to be part of a community and use her project management experience to contribute to its success and growth. She enjoys gardening and spends countless hours with her mom growing vegetables and flowers. Her favourite local vegetable is corn, she gets excited every summer waiting to get her hands on locally grown corn! 

Melissa Serafino is a masters student at the University of Toronto, studying the impacts of the global food supply chain on people and the environment. Her academics have worked as the foundation for her passion for working towards a more sustainable future. The Withrow Park Farmers Market provides a space where alternative food futures can be imagined and where communities can come together to grow local food movements. Her favourite local fruits are cherries and strawberries because her sweet tooth cannot resist delicious pies!

Lanrick Bennett Jr. is all about #EastEndLove. A Managing Director and advocate he believes that if everything we did in our cities was great for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, then it would be great for everyone. Lanrick was one half of #JacksLibraryTour, where he and his 5-year-old son visited all 100 Toronto Public Libraries using public transit. He is a year-round urban cyclist who champions protected cycling infrastructure in multiple forms. Taking a page out of his improv training with the Second City, he celebrates the concept of “Yes, And,” in every aspect of urban life.

Chantal Stepa is a self-proclaimed tree hugger and locavore. Grounded in sustainability and environmental stewardship she intertwines those principles into placemaking. She’s inspired to create public spaces that promote health, happiness, well-being and good food! She can’t get enough of haskap berries, ground cherries and juicy peaches. 

Stacey Waspe is a designer, writer, brand manager and plant-nerd. She is a gardener, amateur genealogist and member of the Guild of One Name Studies. She’s into seed-saving, zero waste, circular economy and everything secondhand or DIY. Stacey loves blueberries, gluten-free brownies and will fight you for the last eggplant.

Lauren Harvey

Eleanor Belais

Janet Robins

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