Grow Speakers & Topics

Get to know this years speakers and session topics! Grow has a fantastic line up of industry leaders ready to share their knowledge. A diverse blend of speakers will cover topics ranging from recruiting and training all the way to building a retaining wall – and everything in between!

Joe Aiken

Joe Aiken, Arborjet Inc.

An ISA certified arborist with over 30 years in the tree industry, Joe Aiken’s knowledge of plant health care is both diverse and extensive. Joe shares his belief in tree preservation by educating others on the benefit of protecting our urban and natural forests with more environmentally friendly solutions.
Joe currently works providing sales and technical support to national accounts, distributors, and plant health care professionals. He regularly conducts classroom and hands on training of Plant Health Care techniques, and effective and environmentally tree injection systems and formulations. Aiding in the development of new equipment and formulations needed, Joe also supports Arborjet’s research department, along with co-operating universities in field trials developing new solutions for today’s industry.

Joe shares his expertise on various treatment methods and their efficacy towards protecting trees from invasive and damaging pests by presenting at seminars and conferences for a variety of audiences, such as arborists, city foresters, plant health care professionals, master gardeners, university extension agents, grounds departments and research personnel.

Joe’s Talk Topic:

How Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was discovered, handled, and managed in Southeast Michigan.
Martha Barwinsky

Martha Barwinsky, City of Winnipeg

Martha is the City Forester for the City of Winnipeg and has been involved in arboriculture and urban forestry for over 20 years. During her Master’s program, Martha started her career in arboriculture as an instructor and research associate at the University of Manitoba and as a practicing arborist. She expanded her experience into urban forestry as executive director of a non-profit organization, Coalition to Save the Elms (now Trees Winnipeg), where she advanced the organization’s public education and awareness efforts from a Dutch elm disease focus to that of the whole urban forest and initiated the first city-wide Arbor Day celebrations. She began working with the City of Winnipeg in 2003 as Supervisor of Urban Forestry and Dutch Elm Disease Operations. Martha has also been a steering committee member with the Canadian Urban Forest Strategy, and is a member of the ISA and SMA.

Martha’s Talk Topic:

Dutch elm disease (DED) is at a critical point in Winnipeg whereby the current incidence of the disease hasn’t been seen since the 1990’s coupled with a more mature elm population and increased urban stresses. Now emerald ash borer (EAB) has been confirmed in Winnipeg threatening over 350,000 ash trees. Winnipeg is at the greatest risk of significant urban canopy losses and costs just due to EAB alone. This presentation will discuss the City’s current plan to halt the increase in DED incidence, the City’s response to EAB, the impacts to Winnipeg’s canopy, and implications for industry.
Sara Bajracharya

Pratisara (Sara) Bajracharya, Manitoba Agriculture

Pratisara is Pesticide-Minor Use and Regulatory Specialist with Manitoba Agriculture. Pratisara has M.Sc. Degree in Plant Pathology and Genetics from University of Manitoba and a B.Sc. Degree in Microbiology from North Dakota State University. Pratisara joined Manitoba Agriculture as a Field Crop Pathologist in 2015. Pesticide licensing, education and certification and other regulatory issues pertaining to Manitoba’s Pesticide and Fertilizers Control Act are part of Pratisara’s current role as Pesticide-Minor Use and Regulatory Specialist. Pratisara’s role is also to seek pesticide label expansions through Minor Use Program.

Pratisara’s current role allows her to interact not only with farmers but also with several other industries like landscape companies, pest control operators , golf course operations, aerial applicators etc. Pratisara will be bringing regulatory information pertaining to the landscape and greenhouse industry.

Sara’s Talk Topic:

Sara will discuss pesticide licensing requirements relating to Landscape and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Continuing education credits required to re-certify in IPM will also be discussed. Additionally, she will also cover record keeping requirements and other regulatory requirements pertaining to the industry.
John Ball

John Ball, Professor & SDSU Extension Forestry Specialist

John Ball is currently a Professor of Forestry at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD with a split appointment in teaching, extension and research. He also serves as a campus arborist for the University and as the Forest Health Specialist for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.

One of his research interest is tree worker safety. Dr. Ball previously served as manager for Arrowhead Tree, a tree care company in Duluth, Minnesota and the director of technical service at Carpenter-Costin, a large tree care and landscape planning company operating along the North Shore area of Boston. Dr. Ball has Ph.D. and M.S in forestry from Michigan State University and a B.S. in forestry from Michigan Technological University.

He currently serves as the Education Chair for the South Dakota Arborist Association and as a representative for the International Society of Arboriculture on the Z133 committee. Dr. Ball is also on the Safety Committee for the Tree Care Industry Association. He has served on the board for the Midwestern Chapter, once in the 1980s, again in the 1990s and just recently completed his third term.

John’s Talk Topics:

Emerald Ash Borer has arrived in Winnipeg and with that a whole new set of challenges and questions. This session will cover the US experience, how the insect behaves in northern China and what Manitoba might expect.
Trees did not evolve to grow as isolated specimens (our frequent choice), but instead survive and thrive as a herd. This session will cover just how trees interact with one another through their own web.
Kevin DeBlaere

Kevin DeBlaere, Commercial Credit Adjusters Ltd.

Kevin has been involved in the Credit and Collection industry for over 26 years. In 1991, Kevin was one of three family members who started Commercial Credit Adjusters Ltd. and helped grow the company to employ more than 175 people in multiple locations in Canada.

Kevin has recently served on the board of directors for the Winnipeg Executives Association. He has been a member of ACA international (Association of Credit and Collection Professionals) and the Credit Institute of Canada for over 25 years and has recently become an active member of the Receivable Management Association of Canada. With many years of experience in the Credit industry, Kevin has a wealth of insight to help you get paid for the work that you do and collect the money you are owed from the difficult payers.

Kevin’s Talk Topic:

One of the most important but often neglected practices of small businesses in ensuring your receivables are paid on time. Join Kevin in this session to learn crucial tips and strategies to get your accounts are paid on time. Learn what do to when your customer won’t pay you.
Nick Dueck

Nick Dueck, Barkman Concrete

Nick Dueck has been a part of Barkman Concrete for over a decade. Nick has his business degree from Red River College and started at Barkman shortly after graduation. He started at Barkman as a seasonal representative but quickly grew his clientele to include servicing all landscape centers and lumber yards within Winnipeg. The diversity in his position and clientele keeps him active in plenty of landscape projects and his passion for the industry is every growing, as is his knowledge of all things concrete.

Nick’s Talk Topic:

More info coming soon!
Debbie Foisy

Debbie Foisy, Debs Greenhouse

Debbie Foisy and her husband own and operate their own Grower/retail Greenhouse, now in Sturgeon County, Alberta (near Edmonton). Deb has a passion for the industry and for marketing. She loves sharing her success’ and trials with fellow greenhouse colleagues. Winner of too many awards to list. Deb is constantly trying new things with social media and for the last 2 years has been selling plants online. Deb has been a speaker at several Greenhouse conferences and is applauded on being candid, understanding the industry as an owner. Join us and Deb to see what’s “New”.

Deb’s Talk Topics:

Join Deb in this 1 hour session to learn how you too can sell plants online, increasing sales and loyalty. Learn what has worked and what hasn’t, ask questions and learn something new!
Succulents are hot! In this quick presentation, Deb will teach you some of the key things she does to lead the DIY craze. Be a leader in your area –become the go-to place for newest, trendiest plants and attract your ideal customer and then sell them more once they’re in store.
Jeremy Funk

Jeremy Funk, Providence University College

Dr. Jeremy Funk is an Assistant Professor of Business, and the Director of the Buller School of Business at Providence University College in Otterburne, MB. Jeremy’s research interests are in the area of small and medium-sized family business enterprises and the role of corporate social responsibility in these family business contexts. Prior to entering into a full-time academic profession, Jeremy worked in, and was part of a successful family enterprise (Penner Foods-retail/wholesale grocery) for 18 years. That family business entity continues to function as an investment company, holding a diversified portfolio of securities.
He regularly teaches in the areas of management, strategy, and small & family business, navigating the many challenges related to operating a successful, multi-generational family business.

Jeremy, and his wife Judy of 35 years reside in Winnipeg. They have three adult daughters and three grandchildren.

Jeremy’s Talk Topics:

Matters relating to business succession are integral to the family nursery and/or landscaping not only surviving, but thriving. More specifically, intergenerational behaviour can have significant implications for how the enterprise is managed, insofar as the present generation is conceivably more willing to incur greater sacrifice in the short term to eventually benefit their descendants in the long term. What practical steps in owning and operating the enterprise can the current generation employ to ensure a smooth and successful transition?
Business performance, environmental stewardship, and the extent of a legacy one wants to leave for succeeding generations often reflect the family’s values and aspirations. Legacy-related intentions may, therefore, have the potential to influence the day-to-day management decisions. What management practices and decisions will the current family nursery and landscape firm owners, who desire to have their family name and positive reputation carry through to succeeding generations, need to institute in order to achieve those legacy objectives?
Wendy Hofford

Wendy Hofford, Wendy Hofford Leadership Training & Consulting

Wendy Hofford has always been known to have the gift of gab. Her passion and desire to tell stories has led her to the stage as a professional speaker for over 10 years. As a Change Expert, Wendy helps her audiences reflect on their own self-limiting beliefs and the challenges of stepping outside their comfort zone. As an influencer in the field of Change, Wendy draws from her experience as a Director of Human Resources, National Construction Safety Officer, certified speaker with the John Maxwell Team, and the Gallup Strengths Organization to her presentations.
Wendy works with her clients in the transition of change to assist them to embrace where they are, inspire them to grow and mentor them to lead through it.

Wendy’s Talk Topic:

If you are tired of the discomfort or feeling like the changes in your world are continual, you are not alone. We live in a world of constant change that causes us to deal with growing pains and hiccups along the way. They can wear you down and stop you from moving forward if you allow them. Wendy will present insights to help you understand that growing pains and hiccups are milestones along the journey of change to achieve growth. Her approach is to provide practical tools to help you work through the pains and hiccups, become better and help reach the next level in your success.

Participants will learn:
• The cost of fighting against growth and change
• How to identify, embrace and use the signs of growth
• Ways to “Stretch” your comfort zone – consistently and confidently
• Strategies to help yourself and others get to the next level.

Chika Modozie

Chika Modozie, Winnipeg Police Service

Constable Chika Modozie is a 7 year member of the Winnipeg Police Service, she started her stint in General Patrol in the West District and North End she then moved to the Central Processing Unit. Constable Chika Modozie is now working in the Community Relations Unit as Crime Prevention/Diversity Officer.

Chika’s Talk Topic:

Chika will provide employees and employers with a better perspective on the rights and responsibilities they have regarding violence in the workplace.
Todd Nadeau

Todd Nadeau, People First HR

With more than 25 years of experience and progressive growth in both small and medium business management and senior human resources management roles, Todd has formed the solid base of experience, understanding, and expertise to support you in addressing the people challenges in your business.

Prior to joining People First, Todd led a Human Resources and Recruiting team within a major international retail company and his work was primarily focused on supporting the selection, retention and engagement of the employee group in Northern and Western Canada. He has vast experience in managing multiple operations in small and medium Northern markets and with people management from locations with fewer than twenty employees to overall accountability of support teams servicing 5000 employees.

Todd’s Talk Topic:

Todd will provide an overview of the key foundations of HR and their importance in supporting managed growth.
Krystal Penner

Krystal Penner, Manitoba Sustainable Development

Krystal Penner works for the Environmental Approvals Branch for the Government of Manitoba as the Pesticide and Agricultural Program Specialist. She is responsible for the oversight and administration of legislation concerning the use of pesticides and the agricultural specialist for environmental assessment of agro-developments including agrichemical warehouses, anhydrous ammonia handling facilities, liquid/granular fertilizer sites and grain elevators. She is the appointed environmental representative for the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Committee on Pesticides and Pest Management – a key linkage between the provinces and Health Canada.

Krystal is currently working on the modernization of the pesticide use permit applications, modernization of the buffer zone registration system and the promotion to industry groups for the adoption of “Best Practices for Storage of Pesticides”. Krystal began her career working for Office of Chief Medical Officer of Health in the West Nile virus program and has since assumed the lead role on the file for the Department of Sustainable Development.

Krystal’s Talk Topic:

This presentation will include a brief overview of the Pesticide Use Permit process, commonly asked questions and understanding what is involved with applications for the control of Emerald Ash Borer subject to permitting. Time for Q&A of any pesticide regulatory questions will be provided.
Philippe Richer

Philippe Richer, Teffaine Labossière Richer Law Office

Philippe Richer is President of TLR Law Group. TLR has been located in the St. Boniface neighbourhood, in Winnipeg, since 1996. The office serves the middle class and small business within the province. With a focus on estates, wills, real estate, and corporate law, he leads his team in providing accessible legal services. Philippe also authored the business law course for the Knowledge Bureau and instructed the français juridique class at the faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba.

Philippe’s Talk Topic:

Philippe will cover several topics ranging from business structures to contract law and builder’s liens.
Philip Ronald

Phillip Ronald, Jeffries Nurseries

Dr. Philip Ronald was raised in the Canadian prairies and educated in plant breeding and horticulture at the University of Manitoba and University of Saskatchewan. Philip completed his Ph.D. as part of the Native Fruit Program at the University of Saskatchewan investigating Saskatoon berry host response to an important fungal disease. Philip worked full-time in the nursery industry for close to 10 years, during which time he developed several tree cultivars including Goldspur Amur Cherry, Nobility White Ash and Admiration Hybrid Oak. He presently divides his time between teaching horticulture at the University of Manitoba, managing a 20 acre fruit farm and providing support to the research and marketing programs at Jeffries Nurseries Ltd. He also serves as Vice President for the Canadian Ornamental Plant Foundation. In his spare time, Philip enjoys exploring the region’s boulevards and forests in search of promising new trees. He resides near Portage la Prairie with his wife Karen and their children.

Philip’s Talk Topic:

With the discovery of Emerald Ash Borer in the city of Winnipeg, the need for intelligent diversification has never been greater. In his talk, Philip will examine the present state of Winnipeg’s urban forest in the light of proposed diversity guidelines. This seminar will also feature an overview of shade and flowering tree species for zone 3 including their strengths and weaknesses as well as best applications.
Fiona Ross

Fiona Ross, Manitoba Sustainable Development

Fiona Ross works with Manitoba Sustainable Development overseeing the provinces forest health program for the past 6 years as the Pest Management Biologist. Fiona has experience working with various stakeholders on numerous urban and commercial forest pest issues, including gypsy moth, jack pine budworm and now emerald ash borer. Fiona also represents Manitoba on various national forest health committees and working groups. She holds a BSc in Environmental Science with a focus in forest ecology from the University of Winnipeg.

Fiona’s Talk Topic:

Emerald ash borer has arrived in Manitoba. Fiona will provide an update on current situation and provincial activities.
Phillip Ronald

Michiel Verheul, High Q Greenhouses

Michiel was born in the Netherlands where his family was operating a 3 acre greenhouse vegetable and market garden. Being surrounded by it his entire life, Michiel decided to pursue a horticultural degree, and during his 3 years at university, he managed to get the opportunity to do some of his practicum in Canada. He jumped at the opportunity and came to Canada with his girlfriend for 6 weeks while working in a greenhouse in Saskatchewan. His employer offered him a job almost right away and sponsored him promptly. Michiel graduated in 1982 with and equivalent of a bachelor degree in horticulture, later gaining permanent Canadian citizenship and marrying the girl he met in high school.

After a year in Saskatchewan they moved to Alberta and worked at a wholesale bedding plant operation for 4 years. By then Michiel and his wife knew they wanted to start a young plant operation. After renting greenhouse space and then renting land for some greenhouses they finally were able to buy some land outside Morinville, Alberta, roughly 30 KM north of Edmonton..Fast forward 30 years and Michiel and his wife Ina {Ena} have 4 daughters and operate 60,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse space. Over the years many changes have been made and lots of things have been tried, most with huge success. Michiel is not scared to try something new and never stops looking and learning. For as long as he can remember he has attended tradeshows and conferences learning from others in the industry and making friends. He’s been in many places in North America and the world. Michiel was awarded several awards over the years, one of them the Grower of the year in 2006 for his ongoing contributions to the industry, by the Alberta Greenhouse growers association. Michiel serves on the board of the Alberta greenhouse growers association as well. He was president 2 times once in the early 1989 till 1992 and again from 2010 till 2014. In 2017 High Q Greenhouses Michiel believes that this industry is an amazing and is very proud to be part of it. What makes it so great that you have the freedom to make your own destiny, search for new opportunity and have fun while you are doing it.

Michiel’s Talk Topics:

Michiel will take you on a tour of his greenhouses and show you some of the gadgets used at High Q Greenhouses, and it includes some he found some where else. All of these make life easier andmost of these are unique. You can see how they work and what they are made of so you can take these ideas home and apply them in your own business.
Part 1: Learn of our “first year experiences with LED lights”. Michiel will tell you what worked and what did not also he will explain the different types of lighting and when you may want to use these. You will see that the transition can have some unexpected bumps. most of all he will tell you what we are doing now and the results.
Part 2: Michiel will explain our biological approach to insects and fungus in our greenhouses. We have used biologicals for 3 full years now in ornamental greenhouse production and Michiel hopes to show you how to lower the threshold about biologicals and show you that this can be done effectively and what the advantages are for you as his young plant customer.
Jason Watts

Jason Watts, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Jason Watts grew up on a small mixed farm just outside of High Bluff, MB. After high school, he attended the University of Manitoba, where he first received a BSc. and then a MSc. degree. In 2006, Jason joined the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as an inspector in the Plant Protection Program. The mandate of this program is to prevent the entry and spread of exotic pests of quarantine significance to Canada’s horticulture, forestry, and agriculture industries. In 2010, Jason took on the job of Regional Program Officer and now spends his time overseeing CFIA’s plant protection program in Manitoba.

Jason’s Talk Topic:

Learn about the newest detection of EAB in Winnipeg and the steps that CFIA is implementing to prevent the spread of it further.
Paul Zammit

Paul Zammit, Toronto Botanical Garden

Paul, a graduate of the University of Guelph, is the Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Garden. He is a regular speaker at garden clubs and horticultural trade shows inspiring audiences across Canada and in the United States. In recent years, Paul has presented in Germany, Switzerland and Bermuda. He has appeared both on television and in print.

Paul and Uli’s home garden has been featured in Canadian Living, Gardening Life, Canadian Gardening and Gardening How-To. His personal garden was awarded first place in the environmental garden category in the 2001 City of Toronto Garden Contest followed by an award in 2003 for the Best Use of Plant Material in the City of Toronto West District Garden Contest.

Paul’s Talk Topics:

Each year brings many new and tempting introductions to the market for us to consider adding to our landscape designs and gardens. The choices can be overwhelming. Join Paul as he highlights many of his top picks of both new and tried and tested proven favorites. He will also share maintenance tips and tricks that he has picked up during his more than 25 years of experience in the industry.
Just as outdoor landscapes change throughout the year, Paul believes seasonal transformations should also be reflected in dramatic container arrangements. Join Paul for an energetic presentation where he will discuss the steps to creating an eye catching and lasting planter. He will also highlight many of his favorite choice plants, container combinations and planter accents for every changing season.