Minga Skill Building Hub

We are so grateful to have such talented and giving leaders passing on their knowledge in our workshops. We wanted to give them the spotlight here so you know how lucky you are to have them sharing with you in your next workshop.

Val Andrews

ValVal Andrews is a culinary professional bringing over 25 years experience to her art.  She has worked as a food service manager, culinary instructor, recipe developer, caterer and farmers market stall operator.  She is dedicated to the use of local organic ingredients and creating a dining experience that is not only delicious but health giving and memorable.  For Val, good food, whether you are growing it, preparing it or eating it is the foundation for forging strong joyful relationships and building community.  Val has been preserving and fermenting foods since her childhood.  She has a unique gift at making her students feel confident and empowered to take these ‘hands on skills’ home and put them into practice.  Check out her company, The Harvest Pantry.

Rob Avis


Rob has studied regenerative design internationally, interning at the pioneering Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark; researching sustainable farms, eco villages, and renewable energy installations from Calgary to Latin America; and completing three permaculture certifications in the US, Australia and Canada. Rob later spent three months volunteering at the Australian Permaculture Research Institute and became one of its first certified teachers. Since then, he and his wife Michelle have visited many of the world’s leading permaculture sites, and brought many internationally-known teachers to present at Verge.

With ongoing training and practice in dozens of sustainable technologies ranging from natural building materials to greywater systems, wind turbines to soil and wetland restoration, Rob has converted his urban Calgary home into a living permaculture project complete with a front-yard food forest, water-harvesting features,  passive solar greenhouse, and energy retrofits on the house.

In keeping with Verge’s mission to grow the permaculture groundswell, Rob donates much time as a popular and passionate public speaker for community events, non-profit groups and businesses. He has been invited to lecture at local colleges and universities, and to speak at both regional and international conferences.

Wesley Clarke

WesWesley Clarke has dedicated his career to craft butchery for over 10 Years. Splitting his time between Toronto and Montreal, two of Central Canada’s most forward-thinking food destinations. He studied at Lester B. Pearson College in Montreal, after which he cut his teeth butchering in Atwater market in early 2005.

Since returning to Toronto in 2008, he has been a stalwart at arguably the city’s highest rated shop for quality and service. There, he developed important relationships with farmers and producers in and around Southern Ontario. Continuously learning and researching, Wesley has expanded his repertoire to the culinary arts, as well as charcuterie. He has been a formidable teacher and mentor to many of his colleagues as a result of his extensive knowledge and experience.

In 2014, Wesley and his young family moved to the Guelph region where they are establishing a solid foundation in the community. In contrast to the hustle of the big city, Wes is embracing the rural lifestyle – dedicating his focus on creating and maintaining a self-sustaining, healthy environment for his family to grow up in.


Heather Couture & Kate

heather and kate

Heather and Kate have been passionately creating luxurious natural soap together for two years. Pleasantly surprised at the accessibility of the soap making process, they are continually inspired by nature’s gifts in the creation of new recipes. Heather and Kate are very intrigued by the powerful healing and mood altering potential of essential oils, and use them extensively in their daily routine. When they’re not busy concocting personal care recipes, you can find them hula hooping with the Royal City Hoop Union.

Mike Craig

MikeMike Craig is a certified Outdoor Education Teacher from Queen’s University. He has 20 years experience leading canoe trips from 4 to 42 days with Camp Wanapitei and the Bronte Creek Project. He taught whitewater canoe courses for 15 years at the Madawaska Kanu Centre. He has been working as an experiential learning consultant and life coach for 5 years with La Luma Academy. He is married to Mary-Kate Gilbertson, and has three children, Rowan (8), Sikhona (6), and River (4), who live at the hub of an intentional urban farm community near downtown Guelph. Mike is passionate about inspiring people to explore nature, and come alive in their relationships. A certified Outdoor Education Teacher from Queen’s University, he has 20 years of experience.

Ami Dehne

Ami Dehne profile photo

Ami Dehne is the founder of Minga Skill Building Hub, a hands on reskilling school in Guelph, Ontario.  Ami lends her leadership, mediation, coaching and influencing skills to many local initiatives and programs.  In her spare time, she is a white water paddler, permaculture designer, cook, potter, animal lover, cyclist and, recently, a new mother. She is known for her skill in asking powerful questions that help participants to discern who they are and who they want to be in their career.

Talia Dyer

View More: http://alyssawodabek.pass.us/nurture-retreatTahlia Dyer – Herbal medicine maker, forager, beekeeper and steward of the land – I’m a jill of all trades working to become a community herbalist. Enamored with growing, cultivating, foraging, and learning about plants.Often found outdoors, on a farm, keeping bees, or in the woods. Sunfire Herbals aims to reconnect people with healing plants by offering herbal wellness workshops, plant walks, and creating herbal remedies to inspire, heal and nurture your being throughout the seasons. We offer a Herbal CSA shares four times per year – Summer, Autumn, Winter & Spring. Each share includes a combination of hand-crafted remedies and a guide with information about the share and tips (http://www.sunfireherbals.ca/seasonalwellness/).  Follow my adventures: @sunfireherbals

Luke Eckstein


Luke Eckstein grew up in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and has been eating wild edible plants since he was little.  The first plant he ever learned to eat is a plant called Cheeses or Common Mallow.  He has no memory of how he learned it was edible, but he does remember picking and eating it from around his schoolyard by at least grade three.

At university, he studied biology and was entirely amazed by subjects like genetics and cell biology. He chose to specialize in molecular biology and microbiology.  Learning from these fields about how the world works on a scale below what we can see with our eyes is like rediscovering all sorts of things that he thought he knew.  Luke also took courses in plant biology and zoology and has been compelled by questions about the origins of life, the story of life on Earth over time and how the world of today came to be.  He is obviously still learning and will be for a very long time, but would love to share his foraging experience and help others to discover and rediscover the wonders of the world around us.

Martin Ford

 Martin grew up around family farms and orchards in Britain and New Zealand where he learned how to prune at a young age. After finishing school he went to work as an Arborist, however, it was only after he began instructing and pruning in fruit gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society that he came to understand the reasons behind the practices of pruning.Following his arrival in Canada Martin gained experience as an urban planner and in landscape design/construction which led to teaching at Guelph University in Landscape Management and Arboriculture. Through these professions he came to understand further the importance of pruning and the significant role it plays in the long term health of our gardens and the environments we create.


Wayne Greenway


Wayne Greenway has devoted his career to helping individuals and organizations thrive. As the founder of Career Aviators, he has empowered more than 1000 clients and workshop participants to take control of their future. In the process, he has continually refined the Career Aviators methodology, creating a proven strategy for successful career transitions. Wayne is proud of Career Aviators record of success with 97% of his clients who completed the program, finding careers in which they excel, value highly and love to do. Most recently He had a lot of fun managing the highly successful 2nd Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology. When Wayne is not working on his business, you will find him volunteering in the fields or promoting Ignatius Farm CSA, learning about the ridiculous side of himself through authentic clowning, cycling, hiking or sampling delicious food in some of Guelph’s fine restaurants!

Adam Krop


Adam Krop is a builder, designer, maker, grower and Intern Architect.  His love of soil stretches way back with his roots in human health, environmental science and landscape restoration, but somewhere along the way he landed in Portland for the VB5 and received a crash course in building structures and community with mud.  He has since worked professionally as a straw bale home and natural builder, plasterer and workshop presenter with Evolve Builders Group and recently completed his Master of Architecture degree at Dalhousie University and is working towards his professional license.  He still loves mud.  Always will.

Joe Laezza


Joe Laezza became a coffee lover as a child when his grandmother in Italy served him his first cup. Throughout his travels, Joe has learned that brewing coffee is not only a science and an art, but a cultural tradition that connects people from around the world. A professional engineer by trade, he has been home roasting for ten years and has honed his craft during retirement. Joe looks forward to sharing his knowledge and meeting fellow coffee aficionados.

Ben O’Hare

Ben O’Hara is a Guelph based designer, he graduated with a Masters in Landscape Architecture, focusing his research on how to support wild bee populations in the suburban environment. He now splits his time with teaching in the Landscape Architecture program, building fine furniture, and at home with his two sons, husky dog, and partner Christy.

Richard Preiss

richardRichard Preiss is a University of Guelph student who was inspired to make really good bread through a combined passion for thrift, science, and good food.  His curiosity has led him to learn about food and cooking as much as possible while in school.  Richard believes that his experience with bread making will make it easy to teach people how to make beautiful, creative, and delicious bread at home, and inspire them to cook more and experiment in the kitchen.

Natalie Ranae

Natalie Ranae is an artist and maker currently exploring the intricate art of macramé and how it fits into the contemporary home. She works out of her home studio with three furry ‘helpers’ creating macrame pieces in the form of plant hangers, wall hangings, banners and household goods. She designs and hand knots every piece herself with love and care.

Learn more at natalieranae.com

John Spee

profile1John has loved beer for a long time and has been brewing his own for a little over 3 years.  He started with a recipe kit and from that point on has been creating his own recipes.   After about 5 batches of beer, he decided he was having so much fun that he wanted to expand his abilities.  After a good amount of reading, he got together with a group of friends and family members to put together a brewing cooperative.  In this cooperative, they would all share the cost of ingredients and equipment and he would brew the beer, which has worked out great!  Everyone helps with the brewing when they can, but as the head brewer, he gets to choose the recipes and lead the brewing.  He has also been selling basic homebrewing ingredients for the past year in KW with an emphasis on local hops.

Stacey Sproule

Stacey Photo

Stacey Sproule is an artist and musician working in Toronto. Her current art practice is focused on embroidery and she also works in drawing, painting, performance, and collaborative pursuits.  She has been embroidering since she was a small child and has been teaching various embroidery techniques for a few years.

Greg Stevenson

gregWe’re really excited to have Greg Stevenson from Puslinch teach a Goat Cheese and Egg Noodle workshop at the end of the month.  Greg was involved in a year long experiment of living a 100 metre (yes, metre) diet in 2010.

PUSLINCH TOWNSHIP — The recipe sounds exotic and straight off the table of a five-star restaurant.  Handmade, organic ravioli filled with goat meat, dandelion leaves, chives and tomatoes, with a light tomato sauce.”

Along with sounding mouth-watering, the dish is something else: everything but the flour in the pasta came from within 100-metres of Greg Stevenson’s home.

The Puslinch resident recently completed an entire year when almost everything he ate came from within 100 metres.  That means that he had to raise, grow, gather and forage what he ate from his 4.5 acre (1.8 hectare) property.  The only things he allowed himself to buy were flour, sugar, local honey, spices, vinegar, oil, yeast, baking powder, vanilla, yogurt starter and the “odd vitamin.”

Read the rest here.

Kenna Whitnell


Kenna Whitnell is the owner of Soleluna Cosmetics, a Guelph based natural cosmetics company. Her interest in natural products began with making lip balm and hand creams for my family, then spiraled out from there. She now makes everything from skin care to makeup to hair care, and everything in between. She has always had an interest in plants and how humans can benefit from their wonderful qualities. She has a passion to share her knowledge with others and provide them with the difference that truly natural skin care products can make.

Bree Zorel


Born and raised in Calgary, Bree Zorel is a visual and textile artist, educator, and chronic knitter currently living and working in Toronto. She holds a BFA from Alberta College of Art + Design, and an MFA from NSCAD University. Her work utilizes diverse media to investigate the relationships between art and everyday life, and a heartfelt optimism to imagine and handcraft a sustainable and just world. In her role as educator, she believes in supporting traditional textile knowledge and technologies, skill sharing, and cloth-making as a community building activity. Check out her website here.

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