Staff Team



Executive Director & Operations Manager

Melanie has had a long and adventurous career in the not for profit sector. Armed with a background in Social Services, Gerontology and Volunteer Resource Management, Melanie has managed offices, been deployed to respond to natural disasters in Canada and the United States, worked alongside President Carter in New Orleans and Thailand and worked with and led teams to Tajikistan, Guatemala, Mozambique and Chile. An adoptive mom of two children, Melanie knows first-hand the impact good food has on health, behaviour and education and is passionate about using her skills to increase access to real food in her community.

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Program Director

Born and raised in Kingston, Michelle’s love for the city grows every day. She has always believed in food as a powerful connector. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics, and a Master of Arts in Human Kinetics. She is currently completing the Trauma Certificate Program through the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfred Laurier University. For the last 12 years Michelle has worked with Indigenous communities in the field of health and wellbeing. Her experiences in both front-line work and program management have taught Michelle the importance of connection, community and collaboration. In her spare time, you can find her spending time outdoors, either cycling, skiing, hiking or playing hockey. She also loves to find treasures at flea markets, test out new recipes, and spend time with her family and friends.

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Fresh Food Access Organizer

Ashley has roots in the Greater Kingston Area. She brings close to 20 years of customer service experience to the Loving Spoonful, with experience in banking and as a Childbirth Educator and Family Photographer. Ashley’s admiration of the uniqueness of people is behind her passion of getting involved with non-profits, which she has done through volunteering, working, and holding executive Board of Director positions. Her heart and drive to serve the community is key to her role as the Fresh Food and Systems Coordinator. As a mom of 3, she understands the importance of good food and its connection with mental health. When she’s not working, you can usually find Ashley at a local coffee shop or market, at a craft fair with a few kids in tow, on a hike, out camping or snowshoeing with her kids, or painting or quilting.



Urban Agriculture Organizer

Ayla is a first-generation farmer and community organizer. She graduated from Queen's in 2011 with a B. Sc (Honours) in Biology, and since 2013 has been working on local organic farms, learning regenerative production methods for vegetables, livestock, cereal grains and dairy. Since 2015, Ayla has been a board member of the National Farmers Union, and has been involved with organizing young farmers and farmworkers nationally and internationally, advocating for the transition to agroecology, food sovereignty and climate justice. Ayla also represents the NFU in the global peasant movement La Via Campesina. She is excited to bring her passion for food and farming to Loving Spoonful and the Kingston community as our Urban Agriculture Organizer! 

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Marie Bencze

Community Harvest Farmer

Marie is an agroecological food enthusiast who has been running the Community Harvest Gardens since 2020. She started her farming journey in 2009 and has worked at several organic vegetable farms in the Kingston area including Root Radical CSA and Patchwork Gardens. In 2019, Marie completed a Master’s of Environmental Studies which focused on farm-based education with children and its ties to food sovereignty. With deep roots in the farming community, 3 years on the board of the local National Farmers Union, and more than a decade of involvement in social and environmental justice initiatives, Marie is passionate about building community and struggling toward food sovereignty. Outside of work, she is a proud parent, voracious reader, banjolele player, and DIY-er.


Jean Chen

Community Harvest Facilitator

Jean has always had a love for food which led her to complete a Bachelors in Nutritional Sciences. She has worked with a diverse population to teach them about the role of nutrition and health. Jean has always wanted to learn more about agriculture and upon seeing the opportunity to work in a more hands-on job, she joined Loving Spoonful in May 2022 as the Community Harvest Facilitator. On days off, Jean enjoys hiking, acro yoga, cooking and eating good food.


Fiona Smith

Gleaning & Fresh Food Access Facilitator

Fiona is a student at Queen's University currently completing her BA in Global Development with specific interests in food sovereignty, Indigenous studies, and environmental sustainability. She took on this role in hopes of exploring these topics more through hands-on work and getting more involved in her community. While she has spent some time working in community gardens already, she very much looks forward to working one on one with local partners, farmers, and volunteers to create a network of meaningful connections through Loving Spoonful. When she can find some time to spare, Fiona loves to bake, spend time outdoors with family and friends, and explore the world around her. 


Zoe Davidson

Farm Training Coordinator

Zoe is a first-generation farmer hailing from Toronto, who has spent the last few years developing agricultural skills on ecological farms in Southern Ontario. Through her farm work, she has witnessed the many challenges facing first-generation farmers in accessing secure land tenure. This problem led her to pursue a Master of Environmental Studies at Queen's, where she is working on a collaborative project with the National Farmers Unionto inform the development of a more equitable land access policy. Zoe is excited to merge her passion for farming and for teaching as Loving Spoonful's Community Farm Training Coordinator!



Community Kitchens Coordinator

​Tibratā is a Red Seal Certified Chef with over 35 years of professional cooking, 15 years as a culinary educator, 15 years of farming and 8 years of special event programming experience. Her outlook on sustainable food systems is rooted in her training and perspectives as a Biogeographer and as an Applied Food Researcher. As a professional chef in Kingston, she has been active in the local food movement for over 20 years.  In the fall of 2017, Tibratā made a life-long commitment and is training to become a Sacred Fire Keeper and as a Sacred Gardener.  Tibratā’s life work revolves around food in one way or another as a means of offering love and opportunities for connection.  Tibratā joined Loving Spoonful in May 2019 and enjoys coordinating Community Kitchens.

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Simon Veall

Community Kitchens Facilitator:

As an avid home cook, Simon sought to develop his interest in food through working in various positions in the restaurant industry. Being immersed in an environment full of new flavours and ingredients, as well as having access to farmers' markets, butcher shops, community-oriented grocers, and local food security initiatives proved to be an invaluable learning opportunity. Acknowledging the joy and confidence that cooking has brought him throughout the years, he knows that a strong relationship with food can play a pivotal role in enriching one’s life. When he’s not in the kitchen Simon enjoys spending time cycling, camping, and digging for records.

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Administrative Assistant

Anne Woodall started volunteering with Loving Spoonful in 2016. Her first task as a super-star volunteer was to assist with the Fund Development Committee. Through this volunteer position, Anne learned so much about the different aspects of fundraising and came to appreciate the essential work of Loving Spoonful. In 2017, when Anne retired, she took on the role of Donor Liaison Volunteer. This past March, Anne joined the Loving Spoonful staff team as Administrative Assistant, and she loves working with this team!



GROW Coordinator

Leslie was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Growing up in an agricultural city, she quickly developed an appreciation and passion for local food and healthy eating. Her love of food and health promotion led her to study nutrition at the University of Manitoba. She completed both a Bachelor and and Master of Science in Human Nutritional Sciences, with her Master’s focused on Agri-Food research and the role of nutrition in disease management and prevention. Leslie has years of experience teaching diverse groups of people about the benefits of good food and healthy lifestyles. After moving to Kingston, Leslie joined Loving Spoonful in 2018 where she used her experience to promote food literacy and community connections. After taking time off to start a family, she is thrilled to be back as the Food Systems Coordinator with the GROW Project, working to expand the program and make it a more accessible resource for students and educators.

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Outreach Coordinator

In February 2022, Gail joined the team at Loving Spoonful as Community Outreach Coordinator. Gail is a photographer, journalist, video producer, and digital marketer. She has been immersed in the Kingston culture for the past 8 years telling stories about local people, events, and organizations. Gail is especially passionate about what goes on behind the scenes and has worked closely with various organizations and community groups to help spread the word of their achievements.Having participated in many Loving Spoonful events in the past, Gail is excited to be a part of the team. As Outreach Coordinator she will enlighten and inform the community and spread the word on the amazing work that they do. On her days off, Gail enjoys exploring small towns and rural communities throughout Ontario, hiking and spending time with her three children.

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