Ted Zettel grew up on a mixed farm in the southern part of the province of Ontario. For 29 years, he and his wife Christine made a living milking cows and raised six children, who are the 5th generation of Zettels on this piece of land. In 1983, already deeply involved in farm politics, Ted became a pioneer in the emerging practice of organic farming. He quickly rose to prominence as a leader in this field and traveled extensively, lecturing and teaching and organizing groups of farmers. He served as Public Relations Director for The Ecological Farmers of Ontario and wrote much of the popular course “An Inrtoduction to Ecological Agriculture”, which laid the foundation for the expansion of organic farming across Canada. In 1989 he became the first President of Ontar-Bio Organic Farmers Cooperative, a small grain cooperative which grew into the largest organic farmers cooperative in Canada, with the leading national brand of dairy products, “Organic Meadow”. He played a key role in organizing farmers and developing market links for the birth of “Field Gate Organics”, and served as Chair of the Board of Directors for several years.
Mr. Zettel’s leadership in this very successful model for cooperative enterprise has made him a popular speaker at national and international conferences.
In 1997 Ted was contracted by the University of Guelph to direct an international conference involving 13 nations in Southern Africa. He is the co-editor of a book that summarizes the presentations at this historic event ; “Ecological solutions for Smallholders in Southern Africa”.
Ted and Christine retired from active dairy farming in 2006 so that Ted could pursue a full-time career consulting in the areas of organic production, agricultural policy, regulation of the organic food industry, and cooperative development. Christine completed her university education and went on to a career in social work.
In 2009, Ted was appointed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to chair the national Standards Interpretation Committee. He also served as President of the Organic Federation of Canada, the industry group which represents organic farmers, processors and consumers across Canada. He has held many positions within Organic Meadow Cooperative, including leading the management team up to February of 2012.
In 2015 the assets of farm partnership “Jervic Farms”, owned by Ted and Christine were transferred to “Zettel Family Farms”, a new partnership involving their two sons Samuel and Mark. Ted is once again heavily involved in day to day farming, helping to build an Organic Grass-Fed meat business, in the hope that future generations of Zettels will be able to continue the farming tradition.