OUR STORY

Ten years ago, a group of potato processors, farmers, distributors and a major restaurant chain collaborated to create the Potato Sustainability Initiative to address potato sustainability challenges. Over time, our program has evolved into the Potato Sustainability Alliance, a roundtable format focused on defining, measuring and advancing potato sustainability using robust metrics to drive improvements in productivity and profitability while protecting the environment. Members of the Alliance, together with over 550 U.S. and Canadian farmers, are committed to advancing a common vision of potato sustainability and delivering economic, environmental and social outcomes at scale.

GOVERANCE

PSA is governed by representatives from the following member categories:

• Grower Organizations
• Processors
• Fresh Marketers
• Buyers
• Input Suppliers
• Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations

 

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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Canadian Growers

Chad Berry, Under the Hill Farms Ltd.

 

 

Vernon Campbell, Mull Na Beinne Farms Ltd.
Vernon is the 7th generation of Campbells to farm in the New London area of Prince Edward Island since the late 1700s. Vernon and his wife Bertha own and operate Mull Na Beinne Farms Ltd. (a Gaelic phrase meaning ‘pretty little farm on the hill’). They crop 2000 acres of land on which they grow processing potatoes as well as cereal and forage for their dairy herd and beef feedlot.
Sustainability has been front and center over the past 40 years of their farming career and they have been recognized for their environmental efforts. The Campbells were named as Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers in 1993 and in 1999 were inducted into Canada’s Soil Conservation Hall of Fame. Vernon has been active in potato industry organizations both provincially and nationally and currently is one of the Canadian growers serving on the Potato Sustainability Initiative.

Greg Nakamura, Nakamura Farms
To say that Greg was born into the potato business would be an understatement to say the least. Greg’s family established Nakamura Farms in 1948 in Southern Alberta with Greg’s grandfather starting the business, which was passed down to his father and in turn to Greg and his brother Bruce. Today the next generation of Nakamura’s has started the transition of taking over the family operation. Greg has served on the PGA Board of Directors and has been a part of the PGA Negotiating Committee for over 30 years. Much of that time he has been the chairman of that committee. Greg also served as vice-president of the PMANA for a number of years.

U.S. Growers

Andy Diercks, Coloma Farms
Andy Diercks is a fourth generation potato grower in Coloma, Wisconsin.  With his father, Steve they operate Coloma Farms, a 2,700 acre potato and grain farm.  Both are very active within the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) and serve on several committees related to marketing, research, environmental issues, and government relations at the state and national levels.  Coloma Farms and the WPVGA work pro-actively with researchers and leadership within the UW system to address issues in the vegetable industry.  Andy received a BS from UW-Madison in Agricultural Engineering and currently serves on the citizen board for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and is a director at the Farming For The Future Foundation.

Chris Olsen, L.J. Olsen Inc.

Mark Darrington, Darrington Farms
Mark L. Darrington of Declo has made a career of farming.  Beginning in his junior year of high school, he has continuously operated and built his farming operations.  Mark has also successfully built and sold several other businesses, including Assisted Living and Truck Transportation.  He also has many years of experience in Farm and Ranch Management, both domestically and internationally.  Presently, he is a partner in humanitarian agricultural development in Kenya.
Mark is married to Verla Wrigley and they have four sons.
Mark has always had the motto that one should be very engaged in service to their occupation, community, and church.  He has demonstrated this over many years by serving on multiple committees and Boards.

Processors

Richard Burres, Sustainable Agriculture for Lamb Weston

 

 

Spencer Karabelas-Pittman, North American Sustainable Agriculture Lead for McCain Foods
Spencer Karabelas-Pittman currently works at McCain Foods to develop strategic initiatives that support farmer environmental stewardship, drive adoption of regenerative agriculture practices, and help communities thrive. Spencer joined McCain in 2019 and has helped lead development of McCain’s global sustainability report, has led global data collection and management projects, and has worked with multiple stakeholders to increase sustainability skills and engagement. Spencer earned a bachelors in Environmental Science and a Masters in Sustainability Management from the University of Toronto, and has worked across industry, government, and non-governmental organizations.

John MacQuarrie, Director of Environmental Sustainability for Cavendish Farms (PSA Chair)
John MacQuarrie is the current Director of Environmental Sustainability for Cavendish Farms. He has long served in Canadian government, working first in the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture before becoming the Deputy Minister of Agriculture from 2001 to 2004. From 2004 to 2011, MacQuarrie was Deputy Minister for the Department of Environment. He currently serves as the chair for the Potato Sustainability Initiative.

Jolyn Rasmussen, Senior Manager-Raw Product Development & Sustainability for JR Simplot (PSA Vice Chair)
Jolyn Rasmussen is the Senior Manager of Raw Development and Sustainability for the Food Group at the J.R. Simplot Company in Boise, Idaho. Jolyn oversees agronomy, variety development, and sustainability. She joined the JR Simplot Company in 2011 as an Agronomist in the Plant Sciences division and later became Technical Services Manager. Prior to joining Simplot, Jolyn worked at the University of Wisconsin – Hancock Ag. Research Station and Del Monte Foods.

John Shields, Contractor for Basic American Foods
John grew up in heart of the Columbia Basin Irrigation project in the State of Washington. He attended Washington State University and graduated with two Bachelor of Science Degrees; Horticulture and Agronomy. John spent 40 years in the food processing business. His potato processing career started as a field representative with the J.R. Simplot Company based in Hermiston, Oregon. He was then a field department manager for McCain Foods, USA., for over nineteen years, in Washington State, and Wisconsin. In addition, John supervised a farming operation in Nebraska, and an agronomy program while in Wisconsin. He finished his potato processing career as the Director of Raw Material Sourcing for Basic American Foods, (potato dehydration) responsible for procuring raw material for multiple processing facilities in Idaho, and Washington State. John retired from Basic American Foods the first of the year, and today is the president of JTS Agricultural Consulting LLC.  He has been involved with Integrated Pest Management for over 15 years, and Potato Sustainability Alliance for the last five years.

Dan Sonke, Director of Sustainable Agriculture for Campbell Soup Company
Dan Sonke grew up working on his family’s almond farm near Ripon, California. An expert on environmental issues in agriculture, Dan has previously served as Assistant Integrated Pest Management Coordinator for the University of Florida, Director of Science for Protected Harvest, and Senior Scientist for SureHarvest, Inc. His Doctorate in Plant Medicine (D.P.M.) is a cutting edge professional degree in crop health management from the University of Florida. He has developed sustainable agriculture programs for fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, and nuts, including the California Almond Sustainability Program. In a reverse twist on the soup-to-nuts approach, he was hired in 2011 by Campbell Soup Company as Manager of Agriculture Sustainability Program to develop the company’s approach to sustainability in agriculture. In 2016, he became Director of Sustainable Agriculture, with global responsibility for agriculture sustainability at Campbell. In this role, he works with vegetable farmers and other ingredient suppliers to track, encourage and enable sustainability progress. He also serves as a resource for the company on agricultural issues.

Fresh Marketers

Sanford Gleddie, Vice President of Agriculture & Business Development for the Little Potato Company (PSA Treasurer)
Sanford Gleddie is an agriculture industry professional with over 30 years of international technology development, marketing and sales, operations, and management experience. Sanford joined The Little Potato Company in 2011 and is currently the Vice President of Agriculture, Sales, Marketing, and Global Business Development.  He is responsible for overall North American potato production including agronomy, field production, potato variety development, the sales and marketing of The Little Potato Company products in North America, new product development, and expansion into new markets outside of North America.

Tracy Shinners-Carnelley, Vice President Research & Quality for Peak of the Market
Tracy Shinners-Carnelley is Vice President Research & Quality at Peak of the Market. She leads the research program at Peak which is focused on variety evaluation, improved pest management, and optimization of agronomic practices for fresh market potatoes.  Tracy also spends time working with growers in their fields and packing houses, supporting activities in these same areas.
She has a passion for working closely with the industry on challenging crop protection, pest management and production issues, both provincially and nationally, and does so through her involvement with the Canadian Potato Council and Canadian Horticultural Council.
Prior to joining Peak of the Market, Tracy spent 10 years with Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives, first as Plant Pathologist then as Potato Pest Management Specialist.  She has a B.Sc. (Agriculture) from Dalhousie University, a Ph.D. (Plant Pathology) from the University of Alberta, and in 2020 was appointed as an Adjunct (Faculty of Graduate Studies) in the Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University.

Buyers

Shane Sampels, Senior Director of Quality Assurance for Sysco
Shane Sampels has thirty years of food industry leadership and technical knowledge. Industry recognized leader in food safety, quality assurance, sustainable agriculture development, and processing. Product knowledge base includes agricultural products of canned, frozen, produce, beverage, and manufactured grocery. Successfully implemented several innovative programs within the food industry; including sustainable agriculture initiatives, produce food safety databases, and plant design and construction including new business start up.
He is currently acting as the Senior Director of Quality Assurance at Sysco and the subsidiary FreshPoint.  FreshPoint is a leading distributor of fresh products specializing in produce.  Shane previously was also Director of Quality Assurance for produce, frozen, canned and beverage products for the Sysco Brand Product Programs.  Shane holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science from Oregon State University.

Townsend Bailey, Director, Sustainability, McDonald’s
Townsend Bailey leads sustainability strategy for McDonald’s North American markets. In this role, he supports McDonald’s US and Canadian businesses as they leverage the size and scale of their supply chains and 15,000+ restaurants to positively impact issues important for people, animals and the planet.  He plays a critical role driving the sustainability strategy and integration into these markets’ supply chains and operations from farm to restaurant through cross-functional collaboration with product leads, communicators, suppliers, industry, and NGOs.

Allied Industry

Tommy Jackson, Sustainable Solutions Account Lead for Syngenta

 

 

Monte Sorenson, Product Manager, Bayer CropScience

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

The Board of Directors elects a Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer to serve for two-year terms on the Executive Committee. In between meetings of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee provides guidance to staff and oversight on the organizational strategy, budget and annual work plan.

The officers elected to the Alliance’s current Executive Committee are:

Chair John MacQuarrie, Cavendish Farm
As the Director of Environmental Sustainability with Cavendish Farms, John is responsible for corporate sustainability planning.  Before joining Cavendish Farms, John served as the Deputy Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy for Prince Edwards Island.  In that position, he was responsible for public works, provincial highway infrastructure grants and energy policy.

Vice Chair – Jolyn Rasmussen, JR Simplot
Jolyn Rasmussen is the Senior Manager of Raw Development and Sustainability for the Food Group at the J.R. Simplot Company in Boise, Idaho. Jolyn oversees agronomy, variety development, and sustainability. She joined the JR Simplot Company in 2011 as an Agronomist in the Plant Sciences division and later became Technical Services Manager. Prior to joining Simplot, Jolyn worked at the University of Wisconsin – Hancock Ag. Research Station and Del Monte Foods.

Secretary – Andy Diercks, Coloma Farms
Andy Diercks is a fourth generation potato grower in Coloma, Wisconsin.  With his father, Steve they operate Coloma Farms, a 2,700 acre potato and grain farm.  Both are very active within the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) and serve on several committees related to marketing, research, environmental issues, and government relations at the state and national levels.  Coloma Farms and the WPVGA work pro-actively with researchers and leadership within the UW system to address issues in the vegetable industry.  Andy received a BS from UW-Madison in Agricultural Engineering and currently serves on the citizen board for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and is a director at the Farming For The Future Foundation.

Treasurer – Sanford Gleddie, The Little Potato Company
Sanford Gleddie is an agriculture industry professional with over 30 years of international technology development, marketing and sales, operations, and management experience. Sanford joined The Little Potato Company in 2011 and is currently the Vice President of Agriculture, Sales, Marketing, and Global Business Development.  He is responsible for overall North American potato production including agronomy, field production, potato variety development, the sales and marketing of The Little Potato Company products in North America, new product development, and expansion into new markets outside of North America.

STAFF

 

John Mesko, Executive Director

John has an extensive and diverse agriculture background, including agronomic sales and service, information management, university education, farming, and nonprofit leadership. He brings expertise in engaging farmers and the food and farming value chain in understanding and implementing sustainable farming practices as well as documenting and demonstrating sustainability improvements along the way. Most recently the Sr. Director of the Soil Health Partnership, John is eager to help PSA move forward its strategy and operations.

“I like the potential PSA has to make a real difference in the way we think about farm and food sustainability,” said Mesko.  So much good work has already been done in setting up the organization, I’m grateful to be joining PSA at this exciting time.”

Natalie Nesburg, Team Member

Natalie Nesburg, a team member with The IPM Institute of North America, supports PSA part time. Natalie earned her B.S. in Environmental Science at Northern Michigan University. Her passion for sustainable agriculture stemmed from interning at a local, non-profit farm.