“Due to the importance of the Centre, I felt it was time to reappoint the faculty advisor position,” says Prof. Hugh Earl, chair of the Department of Plant Agriculture, which the GCUOF belongs to. “Prof. Ann Clarke, the farm founder, was the first faculty advisor and I felt we should return to that split leadership model in the department. It is a big job to run the GCUOF, and we believe this additional position will help to ensure ongoing success.”
Micallef has experience in horticultural production and market gardening, making him uniquely qualified for the role. He has been a horticultural researcher, focusing on vegetable production, at the University of Guelph since 2000. He teaches the University’s HORT*3510 Vegetable Production, which is a listed course for the University’s Organic Certificate, and AGR*2470 Introduction to Plant Agriculture.
He also helps to run his family’s produce farm outside of Milton, ON that utilizes a hybrid of production systems, including organic production and farmscaping. He is also an avid home-gardener with a 1,500 square foot organic vegetable garden.
“I am very excited to work on ensuring a thriving future for the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming,” shares Micallef. “COVID-19 certainly presents unique challenges, but we are creating plans to ensure our volunteers will be safe as we begin our growing season. I am also working on plans to ensure our organic produce can be marketed in new ways.”
The department will also be posting a farm manager position, following the departure of farm coordinator Martha Gay Scroggins.
“Martha Gay was a tremendous farm manager for the GCUOF, coming on board in the inaugural year of the farm and developing it, along with Prof. Ann Clark, to be certified organic and productive,” says Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College. “We truly appreciate Martha’s tremendous dedication and hard work over the last 11 years.”
During her tenure, Scroggins hosted and mentored student interns and volunteers, researchers, community visitors and volunteers, and school-aged children visiting the farm through the Garden to Table program run by Bruce McAdams from the School of Hotel, Tourism and Food Management.
“The farm manager position will be posted in the coming months, and we hope that many organic horticulturalists will apply for this unique position,” says Earl.
“We are confident that the GCUOF will continue to be true to its original mandate to be a place on campus where food is grown and where students and community members, including children, have opportunities to learn about growing food,” adds Van Acker.
The Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming was founded in 2008 by the Department of Plant Agriculture. It was created as a place on campus to grow food and provide a space for students, community members and children to access hands-on learning experiences in organic horticulture.