2022 Board Of Directors
The Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers is governed by an 8 member elected Board of Directors consisting of Ontario processing vegetable farmers from across 3 Districts in Southwestern Ontario. Directors are elected for a two-year term.
By regulation, the Chair is appointed by the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.
The OPVG has two Vice Chair positions which are elected by the directors for one-year terms each year at the first meeting of the Board of Directors after the District Annual Meetings have taken place in the Fall.
Dave Hope was appointed Chair of the board in January of 2019. Dave is retired from OMAFRA after working as Assistant Deputy Minister in several portfolios including Food Safety & Environment, Economic Development, and Regulated Marketing. Dave also served as Chair of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and as a board member of Agricorp. Upon receiving a BSc(agr) in agricultural economics from the University of Guelph, Dave was a partner in a livestock farming operation. He spent time at the University of Guelph as a research fellow near the end of his career with OMAFRA.
Chris Stewart2nd VICE CHAIR for 2022, District 1
Chris operates a cash crop and vegetable crop farm with his two brothers in District 1. He is a 4th generation farmer and has grown vegetables since 1974. Chris previously served as Director on the OPVG Board and also currently serves with the Seed Corn Growers of Ontario Board. He was elected by the Board to serve as Vice Chair for 2022.
Neil ReimerDIRECTOR, District 3
Neil has served on the OPVG District 3 Committee for two years. He was born and raised on a farm in Belize but moved to Canada in 1986. Neil has graduated college and served on the AFO Board as well as with the OFVGA. He is married with 3 children and has farmed in the Vienna area for 20 years.
Dan FroeseDIRECTOR, District 3
Dan Froese has served on the local District 3 Committee for several years and was elected to the Board as a Provincial Director in October 2017. Dan grew up on a farm and has lived in Southwestern Ontario for most of his life, currently residing in Straffordville. Dan and his family have been farming for 20 years both fresh and processing vegetable crops including cucumbers, peppers corn and beans. Dan also serves as a Councillor in Ward 2 for the Municipality of Bayham. Dan was acclaimed in District 3 to serve another two-year term on the Board.
Ryan LeclairDIRECTOR, District 1
Ryan Leclair is a 3rd generation tomato farmer who lives in Dresden. Ryan grew up on a farm and has been involved with many different crops and processes along the way. Furthering his education, in 2006 he graduated from the Mechatronics Program at St. Clair College, where he continues to work during the winter months. Growing up on his family farm, it had always been a dream of his to take on a full time farming position. Ryan grows tomatoes with his family for Con-Agra Brands in Dresden, and took on this full time role in 2013. Corn, soybeans and wheat are also a few of the crops in their rotation. In 2019, Ryan served as Vice Chair on the OPVG District 1 Committee and was elected as a Director to the Board in 2020. He was acclaimed in District 1 to serve another two-year term on the Board.
Tracy GubbelsNEW DIRECTOR, District 2
Tracy Gubbels was elected to the Board in District 2 as a Director for a two-year term. Tracy farms in Mount Brydges with her husband and four daughters. She was born in England and moved to London when she was 8yrs old. Tracy attended college in Barrie, ON and has lived in the Strathroy area all of her adult life. Tracy and her husband, Pete, farm cash crops, watermelon and processing squash. They have up to 14 offshore workers that come each year with many of the same workers returning for the past 20 years. She is well aware of the challenges growers face with acquiring temporary foreign workers and getting them to the farm, especially over the last two growing seasons. Tracy has served on the District 2 Committee for several years and looks forward to working with the Board supporting our growers and the processing vegetable industry.
Carl MerrickDIRECTOR, District 2
Carl Merrick was re-elected to the Board for another term starting 2021. He held the position of Chair at the local District Committee level for one year prior to joining the Board in 2018. Carl has grown up with farming all his life. His father worked as a field manager for Green Giant and Carl, as a teenager, ran harvester for GlanRvest. He is actively involved with the family farm near Strathroy and grows green peas, snap beans and sweet corn.
Ron VanDamme1st VICE CHAIR, District 1
Ron Van Damme’s main operation is located in Wallaceburg. Ron grows tomatoes for Con Agra foods in Dresden as well as machine harvest cucumbers, green peas. sweet corn. Ron also grows sugar beets, corn, soybeans and wheat. Ron has been involved with the OPVG for many years, serving on the District Committee and has experience serving on other boards including the Ontario Sugar Beet Growers Association where he was the Research Chair for several years. Ron was elected to the Board for 2020 and became Vice Chair in 2021. He was acclaimed in District 1 for another two-year term on the Board, and re-elected by the Board to serve as Vice Chair for 2022.
Tom KellerDIRECTOR, District 1
Tom Keller comes from a farming family in Leamington where his grandfather and father originally grew flue-cured tobacco, peaches and fresh-market tomatoes. Processing tomatoes were added in the 60's and in 1971 went to machine harvest. In 1975, Tom became a partner of the farm and cucumbers were added to the crops. Over the years, tobacco was discontinued and peas, sweet corn, green and wax beans, cauliflower, peppers and cabbage were added. He partnered with his brothers in greenhouse growing for several years and has served as past Chair of the local Agriculture Employment Board and past Director of the Ontario Greenhouse Growers Board. Tom is married with 3 grown children who are employed off the farm. He has served several years on the District 1 Committee and on the Board.