Our Roots

Meet Our Board of Directors

Our story

During the first and second World Wars, people in Canada, the U.S.A., Great Britain, France and Germany would use public spaces and their own yards to grow food. These were known as Victory Gardens and contributed to the war effort and instilled an important sense of community when the world needed it most.

The seeds of Hamilton Victory Gardens were planted in 2011, the vision of Hamilton residents Bill and Judy Wilcox. They believed that the dozens of empty city lots lying unused in our city could become sustainable sources of food in a community where too many go hungry or do not have the proper nutritious food supply.

In partnership with Good Shepherd, the first Victory Garden was built on Catherine Street North in the spring of 2011. The idea resonated with dozens of volunteers, students, and neighbours who helped to grow and harvest 2,200 pounds of produce for local food banks and meal programs that year.

The simple act of one couple extending an unconditional hand of friendship has grown into a dedicated group of volunteers that have been able to harvest over 230,000 pounds of fresh produce for local food banks and hot meal programs in the past 8 years.

As of January, 2020, Hamilton Victory Gardens has grown to a total of 12 garden sites and 661 raised beds (equivalent size of 4 ft. by 16 ft.). The 1000’s of pounds of fresh produce harvested each year are donated to local food banks and food programs including Good Shepherd, Mission Services, Neighbour-to-Neighbour, The King’s Way Outreach, Dream Center and Living Rock.

Board of Directors

We welcome new board members to join us! If interested, please send email to: board@hamiltonvictorygardens.org

Mark Tennant

Chair of the Board

Mark brings 30+ years of both business and not for profit management experience. Since 2015, Mark has dedicated himself to reducing food insecurity for 1000’s of individuals and families in Hamilton in his FT role as Manager of The Good Shepherd Venture Centre food bank and Chairperson of Hamilton Victory Gardens.

Sarah Hopen

Board Treasurer


Sadequa Shahrook

Board Director

Dr Sadequa Shahrook is a Bangladesh-born research scholar in the field of Global Health Policy. Dr Shahrook have worked on Clinical Trial, Nutrition Epidemiology, Dietary Intake & Measurement, Vitamins & Supplements, Health Systems & Health Services Research, Chronic Diseases, and Research Operations especially in Low-and-Middle Income Countries. During the onset of COVID 19 pandemic, Dr Shahrook pivoted to front-line healthcare service delivery where she learns the practical difficulty in translating infection-control research into practice while maintaining healthcare ethics. She has worked with numerous top global and national health institutes such as Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), Hamilton Health Sciences, Cochrane Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Tokyo University and World Health Organization (HQ). Dr Shahrook is an author and presenter of her scientific research papers and an external peer reviewer for Cochrane systematic review groups and other scientific journals and online platform. Dr Shahrook holds a doctoral award in International Health (Policy) and a master’s degree in Home Economics with a major on Food & Nutrition. For many years she has been a volunteer with international and national not-for-profit organizations. She performs in live theatre and television to augment social development and cultural exchange. Dr Shahrook aspires to bring innovative ideas to Hamilton Victory Gardens and to replicate its mission into international soil.

Jim Clayton


Cherilynn Tilley

Elyse Pipitone

Elyse is a passionate educator and consultant in the Higher Education space, with projects focused on supporting international student wellbeing. She held multiple Board Director and Advisory positions with community organizations and not-for-profits addressing student housing, food-security, mental health and career mentorship. She is known for bridging the gap between industry, post-secondary and municipality partners to find impactful and sustainable solutions to emerging needs. Elyse is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and holds a Masters of Arts in Education from Central Michigan University specializing in leadership in higher education. She also has her own backyard urban farm, and loves combining her interests in botany, education and community innovation through her role at Hamilton Victory Gardens.

Marissa Taylor

Marissa Taylor has lived and worked in developing countries in Asia and Africa at an international children’s charity. In her roles, she coaches country office teams in program strategy and resource development, program management, financial tracking and monitoring. Marissa has designed and managed projects in public health, nutrition, conservation agriculture, water and sanitation, humanitarian response to climate shocks and economic development. As a trained Permaculturist and continuing student of climate science, Marissa is most fulfilled when she has her hands in the soil.

Allison Williams

Allison loves the outdoors, physical activity, and community development – all the things HVG provides :). She works in the Jones St. HVG.


We would like to take the opportunity to thank some of our sponsors who, without their on-going support, we would not be a success in our mission to #FEEDHAMILTON! Thank you!

Hamilton Victory Gardens
P.O. Box 37046 Cannon Street E.
Hamilton ON
L8L 0A8

Charitable Reg. No. 82694 5883 RR0001