2016 Convergence Presenters

Keynote Speaker:  Jarmo Jalava


Plural Paradigms:  Using, Conserving and Revering Nature in Very Human Times

Ecologist, writer, singer-songwriter, botanist and birder, Jarmo Jalava, will share his perspectives on our relationship with Gaia at a time when it seems humans are both taking and losing control. Jarmo will draw on his lifetime of conservation work, spiritual practice and immersion in different cultures to stimulate thought and discussion about the local and global biodiversity crisis.  As Director of Ecosystem Recovery for the Carolinian Canada Coalition, Jarmo will also offer some straightforward ways in which forest gardeners can contribute to healthier ecosystems in Canada’s most biologically diverse and impacted landscape, the Carolinian life zone of Ontario.

Jarmo Jalava will be performing for us on Saturday evening.  Be sure to stay with us for that!

Stephen Hotchkiss bio pic

 Stephen Hotchkiss 

“Telling the Bees: Lessons from the front lines of bee-friendly apiculture”


Herbcrafter and Beekeeper Stephen Hotchkiss of The New New Age manages a 100 acre medicinal herb farm in Bayham Township, Ontario which includes many happy bee colonies who thrive amongst the diverse wildflowers of the surrounding Carolinian forest.


Ivan Chan

“Outdoor Mushroom Cultivation: Growing Edible Decomposers in the Shade”

Ivan Chan is an edible landscape designer and owner of Eden in Season, combining his experience as a professional water resources engineer and permaculture design practitioner. In 2014, he established the Garden of Eating as a demonstration forest garden. Have you herb we’re a fungi who berry nuts for fruit?





Alexis Burnett

“Ecological Linking: How species work together to create a vibrant, healthy eco-system”

Alexis is a Naturalist, Tracker, Herbalist, Wilderness Skills Practitioner and Canoe Guide from Orangeville, Ontario.  He currently resides in the Owen Sound area, spending his days tracking, wild-crafting and running his Outdoor School and Wilderness Canoe Tripping company, Earth Tracks. Alexis is lead guide for the wilderness canoe trips and head instructor for all the programs and classes. Along with his wife Bobbi and two children, they also run a small scale herb farm (Rebel Roots Herb Farm) which specializes in organically grown and ethically wild-crafted herbs. Alexis is committed to mentoring and teaching others the skills that help us to re-connect with the natural world in an ancient and powerful way. By learning from nature through immersion and direct experience we begin to see and more importantly ‘feel’ the inter-relation of all things in the natural world. And from here we can begin to understand the important role that we all can play in protecting and preserving the Earth for future generations.



Chief Coker

“Forest gardening skills, forest wisdom: A permaculture perspective”

Chief Iya Coker is Toronto’s only active teacher who uses the knowledge of permaculture, traditional Yoruba culture and progressive social justice skills. Students and community members around Chief Coker recognize them as a passionate woman of colour with a strong social consciousness strongly linked to their Nigerian and Jamaican backgrounds. Students arrive en masse to learn from them and work on their ground breaking projects.  As a disciplined curator and humanitarian Chief Coker continues to provide eyewitness testimony with their skills in journalism and performance-based art to the struggle for those pushing back against oppressive forces. A sensei of Shodan ShotoKan Karate and dedicated mentor and elder in the PGTA village and GTA communities, Chief Coker leads a team of Leaders in action through projects & events around the world intended to better our leadership and cultivate healthy communities. Trained in theatre arts with a knack for talent management has created a reputation for them in nurturing and providing safe space for the communities they work with. Chief Coker is a skilled comedian, creative performer and dancer which adds layers to their presentations. Their extensive traveling to Yorubaland, California, New York, Oakland, London, Jamaica and in between only made their self-study that much faster, dissecting their own movements with a trained mind.  They are dedicated and self-motivated, they put their direction and motives into words with their saying, “Positivity is Power.”





Lorenna Bousquet-Kacera

Re-Wild & Re-Connect: Forest ecosystems as model and guide for re-storying personal & ecological wholeness”

Lorenna Bousquet-Kacera is a Certified Permaculture Educator with a specialty in evolutionary regeneration at the personal, ecological and spiritual levels. She is the founder of Shamanu: Earth Wisdom Teachings,  soulful, life-affirming journeys that develop the radical creativity required to participate at the deepest levels of ecological and social transformation. Lorenna is co-founder and co-director with her husband  Shantree of The Living Centre, Eco-Spiritual Education Sanctuary in London, Ontario. Her 45 years of training and experience in the field of inner permaculture and deep ecology provides individuals with the skills to reconnect with the ‘original instructions’ revealed to us from nature. These empowerment practices call us forward into our full potential, and the ability to actively participate in creating sustainable personal, community and environmental solutions.  www.thelivingcentre.com




Sophia Bonnie Wodin

Sophia Bonnie Wodin

“Hear with my Ears; See with my Eyes; Speak with my Mouth:
An experiential workshop deepening our relationship with Earth”

Our Earth is a living, feeling being who nurtures us in ways beyond counting.  Using conversation, guided imagery and more we will enter into conversation with Earth and take our place as Her Eyes, Her Ears,  Her Mouth. Come prepared to open your mind, heart and soul to Her voice.  

Sophia Bonnie Wodin is a retired landscape designer with Permaculture in her blood. She supports people forging and deepening their relationship with Earth.



Becky Ellis 2


“Reimagining the Possible: How the wisdom of forests can bring hope, abundance, and regeneration to humanity”

Becky Ellis is a permaculture landscaper and educator and the co-owner of Earth Magic Permaculture. She is the organizer of the Mantis Arts & Eco Festival which is held every August at Boler Mountain. She previously worked as a children’s garden coordinator, helping to connect kids throughout the city of London with nature, gardening, and permaculture. Becky obtained her M.A  in Socio-cultural Anthropology from the University of Western Ontario with a focus on community gardens, social justice, and urban neighborhoods.  In September she will begin a PhD program in Geography from Western. She plans to research urban food movements, the solidarity economy and climate change. Becky is a mom to four kids and when she has a quiet moment (ha!) loves spending time in her forest garden watching bees buzz.


Bio picture Monika Ghent

Monika Ghent, RH, PSMA

“The Shady Underside of the Forest Canopy: What medicinal forest floor herbs can grow in the shade of your garden”

Monika Ghent is a Western Traditional Herbalist and Plant Spirit Medicine Healer with a private practice in both Toronto and Maple, Ontario, Canada.

Monika was blessed with the opportunity of growing up in the country in rural Ontario where she experienced peace, wonder and beauty by being in nature. In her 20’s she heard the call of the plant people and began the study of herbal medicine. She started her professional practiced as a Western Traditional Herbalist in 1997.  She is an advocate of being in respectful and humble relationship with the earth and all the beings that inhabit her. As such, all the herbs she uses in her practice she either ethically wild harvests herself or are grown organically.

As a healer, Monika has most desired to help people come to know the beauty of their uniqueness and live in their truth to its fullest expression in health and wholeness, as well as to connect with the natural world that sustains and holds us all.

Monika has a school of herbalism (Living Earth School of Herbalism) with her husband, Michael Vertolli, which offers general interest workshops and online classes, and certificate and diploma programs in  Western herbalism and related fields of study.  www.dreamingwillow.ca


Jayme Cannon Burdock photo 2

Jayme Cannon

“Forest Garden Start-Up:  Creative Ideas for Establishing your Food Forest”

Jayme Cannon didn’t fully understand what she was getting herself into when she signed up for the Traditional Herbalist program at The Living Earth School of Herbalism in the year 2000…little did she know that her decision would forever change the way she saw and experienced her world.

While researching the medicinal properties of an every day cuppa tea, she was excited by the history and mythology that she found interspersed amidst her research.  She went on to share her discoveries through teaching at the Royal Ontario Museum, as well as colleges, libraries and cafes (and wherever she has an audience).  Jayme has an engaging teaching style that stems from her desire to educate and entertain.  

Jayme’s herbal training began with a strong focus on local, sustainably wildcrafted medicine.  Much of her dispensary has been harvested from forests, so when she discovered Permaculture and Food Forests, she knew she had found a path that would further deepen her connection with the plant world.

Natalie Howard

Liquid Nutrition Wisdom as a protocol for Radiant Health & Longevity:  From the Forest to your blender, key protocols, herbs, foods & superfoods to power up your health”

Natalie Howard, founder of therealignranch.com, rawllygood and  the Mandala Gardens @The Realign Ranch. She is the creator of therealignranch.com, home to rawllygood and the Mandala Gardens, she is a documentary photographer and a HOPE Activist.  Natalie supports the realignment of body, mind, heart and soul through a variety of workshops such as Living Raw Food Nutrition and Mandala Garden Design.  Natalie’s intention is to be of service through the process of self-transformation that leads to environmental and personal awareness, self-sustainability and spiritual growth.   www.therealignranch.com




Shantree Kacera, D.N., Ph.D 

“Wild Nutrition: Eating on the Wild Side”

Shantree is a Permaculture Educator, Nutritionist, Therapeutic Herbalist, Ecological Consultant & Forest Garden Practitioner with 40 years experience in the Organic Natural Healing Arts. He is an expert on the medicinal and nutritional properties of herbs and trees of Carolinian Canada. His primary focus these days are on research, demonstration and education. He is the founder and co-director of The Living Centre (1983), and Living Arts Institute. Shantree received his doctorate in Nutritional Medicine and Herbalism in the 70’s.

Shantree has studied useful edible, nutritional and medicinal plants and organic gardening for 40 years. The Living Centre maintains about 5-acres of forest gardens which has around 1,000 useful perennial foods and medicinal plants or self-seeding species. 



Brad Peterson

Permaculture SOILS: “They’ll Grow On You”

Brad Peterson is an ecologist, farmer and environmental landscape architect with over 25 years of experience in sustainable land management, environmental design and landscape architecture. Mr. Peterson has particular strength in application of permaculture principles, design and management of sustainable landscapes and organic production systems with application to smart growth, planning policy and organic standards.




Jeremiah Riehl

“Cordage-Making with Plant Fibers: Activating Ancient Memory In Your Hands Through Twisting Nettle, Dogbane, Milkweed and More…”

Jeremiah is a man of the woods.  He has spent that last five years living on the edge in a tiny shack built on an old wagon platform, attempting to grow his own food and learning from nature.  He lives and works at Circle R Ranch, an outdoor education facility and summer camp located on 220 acres of diverse woodland just Southwest of London.  He is also a permaculture practitioner and in the summer his focus is on teaching children about how to grow food, forage and make connections with the natural world.  His garden has blossomed into a forest garden in the last three years and this last year he built, out of mostly recycled materials, an Earthship Greenhouse to extend the growing season and integrate as many functions as possible into one building (stack it!).  This last year he has also become extremely passionate about tracking and Coyote Mentoring, which he has begun offering to small groups of kids year round.  He is infinitely stoked for this year’s Forest Wisdom Convergence and is grateful to be part of it.  Yeehaw!

      Check him out at: www.circlerranch.ca



Jessica Robertson

Holistic Sprays for Your Forest Garden

Jessica Robertson is the owner of Wild Craft Permaculture. She has been working with permaculture principles for several years at a variety of scales, from the home garden to the neighbourhood. She integrates her backgrounds in biology, education, and urban planning into her work. Jessie is an engaging teacher who instils passion and practical knowledge in her students and believes firmly in experiential learning. Jessie is on the steering committee of Transition London Ontario, and she loves riding her bicycle and howling, usually simultaneously.



Ben Caesar

Ben Caesar

“Edible Plant Propagation: Tips and Techniques for Growing Plants from Seed, Division, Hardwood and Softwood Cuttings”

Ben Caesar has been experimenting with and eating perennial edibles for many years, and opened Fiddlehead Nursery in 2012.  He manages (and eats from) an ever-expanding demonstration garden to showcase some of the best plants for the northern homestead.  He’s always trying out new edible plants, and is passionate about the idea of gardens that build soil as they feed the gardener. http://fiddleheadnursery.ca



Leah Tandy

I am Leah “Aqua” Tandy, a full-time professional in summer camp, outdoor education, and recreation.  I love playing outside with all ages and helping foster personal growth and nature connection. I enjoy allowing everything to be my teacher and am constantly in awe of the world around me. In my free time, I especially love swimming, reading, playing in nature, yoga, beading, board games, and walks with my cat.



julie walterJulie Walter

Julie Walter is a stay-at-home mother, educator and blogger.  After having her own children she decided to leave her day job as an elementary school teacher and librarian in favour of educating her three children. She has a deep rooted interest in preserving the planet for future generations, finding guidance for how to proceed in permaculture. She aims to integrate the principles of permaculture into all aspects of daily life and parenting in particular.  She writes about her journey in her blog Family Yields (www.familyyields.wordpress.com). Her interest in permaculture has dawned slowly, learning about it by proxy as her husband Rob shared excitedly about his own learning.  With an undergraduate degree in Sculpture, it was not surprising for Julie to be drawn to natural building. She has gained practical experience through a natural building workshop and during the construction of a cob oven, turning now toward the exciting potential of earthen buildings!


Becky Ellis (Same as above)


 Sophia Bonnie Wodin (Same as above)



Jeremiah Riehl (Same as above)



Elijah Rochardson Feb2015

Elijah Richardson

Elijah Richardson from an early age was introduced to the importance and connectedness to the earth by his grandfather! Through out Elijah’s life has been connected to horticulture in some capacity , from landscaping to nursery work to horticulture therapy to organic farming ! For the past 15 years Elijah has been interested in sustainable agriculture and this has influenced his passions! He has been working with the environment since the early nineties! And in 2000 attained a Environmental Engineering diploma in waste management! And in 2005 received a child and youth worker diploma and has been connecting the two together ever since! Elijah has been exploring, observing , building and maintaining small forest gardens wherever he lives! And believes building healthy sustainable communities is paramount which in-turn parallels the intricate relationships between nature!



Daniel Gagnier

Daniel Gagnier

Daniel Gagnier went from a life as a mechanic; building high-speed bomb-proof backhoes, to supporting people with developmental disabilities.  Daniel believes he has as much to learn from the people he supports as he has to teach them.  His interest in Permaculture began many moons ago, after learning more about the systems and principles that govern the natural world.  Daniel is fascinated by the Carolinian zone and it’s wide breadth of biodiversity.  Recently, Daniel and his wife Jayme have begun transforming an old Pear Orchard into a Food Forest.



Cayley Cowan

Cayley Cowan

Artist and educator, Cayley Cowan has been mentoring youth in connecting to the magic of the natural world since 2009. Over the years, she has worked at Circle R Ranch as a camp counselor, lifeguard, horse back riding instructor,  and most recently as the Director of the Leadership Adventure Program for teens. Cayley has a BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Western Ontario, and is currently completing her Bachelor of Education at Trent University in Peterborough. By using fibers and natural materials, Cayley’s artistic practice combines a love for the Earth with meditative movements that nurture healing and mindfulness. Her other passions include identifying and harvesting wild edibles, reading about nature education, practicing yoga, and of course hula hooping!