Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture

Influential Women in Agriculture Summit 2021
October 19, 2021 at 12:00pm ET

Building community


  • Ellen Sparry
  • Leona Staples
In order to build one’s brand and make change, one has to know how to engage with various communities. How can we build strong, engaged communities in agriculture, whether through traditional or more innovative means?

Ellen Sparry
If you work with cereals in Ontario, odds are you’ve heard of Ellen Sparry – she’s a go-to person for cereals research and production questions. Sparry is the general manager of C&M Seeds in Palmerston, Ont., as well as wheat registration co-ordinator and performance test co-ordinator for the Ontario Cereal Crops Committee and chair of the newly formed Seeds Canada. After growing up on a farm, Sparry took a brief detour through a hotel and food management program, but ended up realizing that agriculture was where she wanted to be a few short weeks later, emphasizing the importance of communication across the industry.

Leona Staples
Leona Staples owns and operates the century-old Jungle Farm in Red Deer – but she’s also used her position as a farm owner to affect change in the way the community relates to agriculture. On a “normal” (non-pandemic) year, more than 5,000 school students tour the farm, and Leona has continued to offer educations programs to schools since the onset of the pandemic. From using social media to promote ag education and engage with the community to working with community stakeholders to create farmers markets, marketing opportunities and educational programs. Leona has more than 30 seasonal employees whom she mentors and teaches, and she supports local organizations such as scouts, guides and 4-H to help keep the spirit of ag strong in future generations.