Becky Porlier – Co-Founder, Chair of the Board
Becky is the co-founder and director of the Upper Canada Fibreshed. She is the founder of the Upper Canada Mercantile. Ever concerned for our collective impact on the environment, her interests and education have focused on sustainable agriculture, culture and art. Completing an Msc in Capacity Development and Extension from the University of Guelph (2012), she has researched organic farming (Bhutan 2011), food security (Nunavut 2012), and gained practical experience working as an urban farmer (Guelph 2012) and at a polyculture orchard called Miracle Farms (Quebec 2014). She was inspired by Rebecca Burgess 100 mile wardrobe while working as a backyard farmer. Settling near the shores of Lake Nippising, she is an avid gardener, forager, wildcrafter and community arts advocate.
Jennifer Osborn – Co-Founder and Special Adviser
Jennifer Osborn is an artist, farmer, felter, ice cream maker, as well as a permaculture designer & teacher. Since being put on her first pony at age three, she has always had a passion for animals and nature. Since her early years Jennifer has an ability to see natural systems, directing her towards permaculture. Value added permaculture farming with sheep was a natural fit for Jennifer. Her interest in Fibreshed began as a way to utilize her own wool.
Approximately 95%+ of Canadian fibre that is not considered suitable for next to skin wear. Exploring the potential and viability of this type of wool is where Jennifer’s focus lies in UCFS. Being a career farmer, she is interested in having wool to once again become a viable income stream for sheep farmers.
Since 2015, Jennifer and her husband, Tim, have been running a sheep dairy farm, making small batch ice cream with their milk, along with local, and organic ingredients.
Christopher Walker – Vice Chair
Christopher Walker is a Fibre Artist, Knitwear Designer, and founder of the label Cabinboyknits.
Outside of the corporate world Christopher splits his time between Toronto and his log cabin in the arboreous Oak Hills of Stirling Ontario. His unconventional work is influenced by the environment around him, whether it be from the rugged Canadian landscape, to the vivid colours and graphic designs in Toronto’s tattoo parlours. He is both participant and host of “Knitters in Residence”, a series, which brings an international faculty of professional knitting teachers to his cabin to lead fibre workshops.
Bree Zorel – Secretary
Bree Zorel is an artist, educator and chronic knitter who recently packed up her big city life to live and work on an organic farm in Prince Edward County. Ever curious, Bree’s interests have led her to complete an MFA at NSCAD University, teach art to kids at the Art Gallery of Ontario, work at the infamous Romni Wools in Toronto, develop programming for the Toronto Knitter’s Guild, create hand-stitched wearable art for Peggy Sue Collection, and shear a sheep in New Zealand. Her passion lies with textile traditions and processes that support healthy communities of people, animals, and the environment.
Nadine Mcleod – Treasurer
Nadine is a knitwear designer, instructor and speaker. She has 20+ years experience in marketing and finance, as well as experience as a small business owner.
Romy Schill – Producer Representative
Romy along with her husband Ryan and 3 kids operate Circle R Livestock Ltd. Running a commercial sheep operation primarily selling meat lambs and breeding stock. The base of 400 Dorset ewes is on an accelerated lambing system so lambs are born year round. An expansion next year hopes to fill the growing demand for lamb. Discovering the fiber world and experimenting with what can be done with our wool and what customers might want is a project they’re working on right now. With so much wool we might as well try to do something with it.
Laura Sharpe – Producer Representative
Sarah Jean Harrison – Social Media & Digital Story Teller
Raised on a farm in rural Ontario where the ability to tell a good story is a key social skill, Sarah Jean discovered at an early age her knack for uncovering the heart of a story and engaging people in its telling. Throughout her formal education in social and environmental justice Sarah Jean developed the strong written voice and discerning visual eye needed for digital communications.
Fifteen years of experience with community development and education confirmed for her the power of a well told story to change minds and open hearts. Today, Sarah Jean’s passion for connecting people through story is used to cultivate engaging digital experiences and effective communication strategies for her clients.