Meet Our Team
Get to know the team behind Okanagan Specialty Fruits® and nonbrowning Arctic® apples
Neal Carter – President & Founder
Louisa Carter – CFO & Founder
Neal and Louisa Carter are the innovators behind Okanagan Specialty Fruits® (OSF) and nonbrowning Arctic® apples. As apple and cherry orchardists who have lived in the Okanagan Valley for over twenty years, they know their fruit. They also know that apple consumption has been flat-to-declining for decades, and wanted to offer the industry and consumers something that can help reverse this trend, which is why they founded OSF in 1996.
Neal is a bioresource engineer with over thirty years of experience working around the world – largely on efforts to enhance food security in the third world. It was through this firsthand experience that Neal was convinced that biotechnology can help farmers meet ever-expanding global food demand.
The Carter’s take a hands-on approach in their orchard and are actively involved in field operations through the year. Their love for the outdoors extends beyond their long hours in the orchard; their downtime is spent enjoying hiking, mountain biking and back-country skiing.
For more on Neal & Louisa, see our blog post covering their background and reasons for founding OSF.
John Armstrong – Research Manager
John considers himself a true resident of Canada having lived and/or worked in London, Beaconsfield, Edmonton, Westmount, Whitehorse, Mill Bay, Vancouver, Estevan, Jasper, Winnipeg and Lethbridge. His genuine home is Penticton, British Columbia where he represents the third generation of Armstrongs actively contributing to this community. John’s many adrenaline-pumping passions include sky diving, equestrian, white-water kayaking, mountaineering, scuba diving, mountain biking, wilderness trekking, canoeing, and most recently, the craft of motorcycling (dirt/dual/road). He enjoys cooking with his son, playing cards with his wife and hiking the local mountain trails with his dog.
John obtained his BSc (Microbiology) from the University of British Columbia and PhD at the University of Manitoba. He joined OSF in 1999, helping to successfully prove the science behind Arctic® apples soon after in 2002. In his current role of Research Manager, John oversees various research projects, research partnerships, intellectual property and regulatory affairs.
Jeremy Johnson – Laboratory Coordinator
Jeremy grew up in a small farming town in Saskatchewan, later moving to Saskatoon to obtain a BSc in Biology from the University of Saskatchewan, followed by a Biotechnology diploma at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology. Outside of the lab, Jeremy’s two wonderful kids, Kadence and Darius, keep him busy with school events, sports and other activities. He’s involved, along with his wife Crystal, as a volunteer martial arts instructor, holding a 3rd degree black belt in Wado Kai Karate. Jeremy also enjoys playing board games with friends, plugging away at a video game, or curling up on the couch with a good book.
After a number of different positions in the science and biotechnology field, Jeremy came to work for OSF in July 2010. Jeremy holds the position of Laboratory Coordinator, and his current area of focus is the development of new Arctic® apple varieties, such as Gala, Fuji and Honeycrisp.
Aruna Wickramarathna – Assistant Scientist
Aruna grew up and completed his undergraduate studies in the tropical island of Sri Lanka before moving to Edmonton, AB for his post-graduate studies in winter; quite the shock as there was a 28 OC temperature difference and he had never seen snow before! After obtaining his PhD, he worked in both academia and industry before joining OSF in fall, 2015. As an Assistant Scientist at OSF, Aruna explores the potential use of novel genome editing techniques in developing tree fruit crops with superior traits.
Apart from the work, his two young kids keep him busy with their fast evolving extra-curricular activities. However, he somehow finds time to follow cricket and debunking “celebrity science” with contemporary information and data.
Jordan Hannah – Laboratory Technician
Jordan grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, playing as much hockey and football as possible in his free time. He is a self-described Jack of all trades and loves spending time outdoors with his family hiking, camping or his absolute favorite: fishing.
Jordan has worked in biotechnology since 2003 and loves anything to do with science and innovation. As Laboratory Technician, he is tasked with transformation of novel traits into plant tissue among other duties and loves seeing the science team’s hard work come to life.
Mathieu Dubeau – Research Technician
Mathieu, growing up in a military family, lived all across Canada as a child before settling outside Montreal, Quebec. Always academically driven, he completed the International Baccalaureate high school program and has also devoted significant time volunteering in his community, including his involvement in the Scouts Canada movement. Now a cell and molecular biology graduate from the University of Concordia, his favourite hobby is keeping himself in shape through rock climbing, both indoors and outdoors.
As a research technician for OSF, Mathieu is in the lab working on creating the future products as well as ensuring that existing ones, like Arctic® apples, meet a set of strict criteria.
Jennifer Armen – Director, Business Development & Marketing
Jenn, a 30-year veteran in the specialty crops arena, has spent her career in the post-harvest crop protection and vegetable seed industries. Trained as a botanist, mycologist and plant pathologist, she has relied on her technical training to support her business and marketing functions in the industry. Since 2010, Jenn has worked with OSF in variety of activities and now oversees business development and marketing activities for the company.
A lover of the outdoors, Jenn spends as much time as possible partaking in outdoor sports. Indoors, she enjoys celebrating our abundance of great produce by getting creative in the kitchen and sharing these talents by welcoming friends to her table.
Joel Brooks – Brand Manager
Joel Brooks, an avid hockey fan, grew up in Summerland, British Columbia where he was a hard-working student and busy athlete. Joel was always active in the community, earning a service award for volunteer work and spending his summers working on apple and cherry orchards, including the Carter’s. He obtained a BA at the University of British Columbia – Vancouver before earning a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.
In Joel’s current role, he is tasked with managing both the Okanagan Specialty Fruits® and Arctic® apples brands. His mission is to ensure that OSF continues to stay true to its core characteristics, and through amazing products like Arctic® apples, positively influences the way people think about and experience tree fruits.
Jessica Brady – MarCom Specialist
A love of animals led Jessica to pursue a BSc and MSc, and ultimately a career, in agriculture. Based out of Manitoba, Jessica lives on a grain and cattle farm with her partner, Stewart, and their dog, Norm. When she’s not reffing rugby or playing soccer, Jessica enjoys knitting, reading, and hiking with Norm. She’s also been known to develop an Arctic® apple recipe now and again!
As MarCom Specialist, Jessica manages a variety of tasks related to communications including social media, general phone and email inquiries and compiling Marketing and Communications materials.
Joel Carter – Field Operations
Joel Carter, as you may have guessed, is indeed the son of OSF founders Neal and Louisa Carter. As such, farming has always been the most important part of his life, as he’s been riding on tractors at the Carter family orchard since before he was two years old. Though he was just nine years old when OSF was founded in 1996, his ties to the company go way back. Joel was on the end of a shovel when the first Arctic® apples trees were planted over a decade ago, and he and his brother Paul even came up with the Arctic® apple name and logo!
After attending University of British Columbia – Vancouver and gaining much world experience through his travels to dozens of countries across the globe, Joel became a member of the OSF team in 2014. He has a number of diverse responsibilities, especially those pertaining to field operations, regulatory procedures, and working with our nursery and commercial partners.