About Us

merville-organics-602x401Our founding members include: Arzeena Harmir, Russell Heinzman, Robin Sturley, Kira Kotilla, Moss Dance, Neil Turner &  MOMO the chicken*

*may or may not be chicken’s actual name

 

MERVILLE ORGANICS

Merville Organics is a way for five local certified organic and transitional to organic farmers to join forces and market and distribute their products cooperatively. For the first two years of Merville Organics it was two farms, Amara Farm and Ripple Farm with a 20 person CSA.  In 2017 we served over 120 summer CSA shares and 60 Fall shares.   Based on the Saanich Organics model, our goal is to increase production and distribution of fresh, organic and transitional produce within the Comox Valley with our eye on food security for all!

This summer, you can sign up for our CSA box delivery program – where you will get the best of five farms for 16 weeks in summer or 8 weeks in fall, delivered to a convenient  location in Comox, Cumberland, Courtenay or Campbell River! Or you can visit us at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market year round, where we offer greens, roots, fruits and plant starts!

What does “Transitional to Organic” mean?

When a beginning farm applies for organic certification and starts following the organic program, there is almost always a transition period to account for past uses of the farm land, and to help the farmer get their operations up to standard. Transitional farms must comply with the Canadian Organic Standards and any additional standards outlined by their certifying body (CB). Once the transition period has ended and there are no issues of non-compliance, then the farm can be Certified Organic

All five of our farmers have applied for organic status with Islands Organic Producers’ Association.  Amara, Green Arrow & Klovendalen Farms are fully certified, while Whitaker and Tendergreens Farms are in transition.

Meet the Farmers

Arzeena Hamir, Amara Farm

11150844_830042447084350_4136593271795077116_nArzeena has committed a large portion of her life to increasing access to local food and sharing her passion for agriculture. She spent a decade working overseas with farmers in Jamaica, Bangladesh, India, and Thailand to encourage sustainable and integrated agriculture, composting and natural alternatives to pesticide use.

Arzeena then returned to British Columbia, worked for several years as the staff agrologist for West Coast Seeds and then created her own seed company, Terra Viva Organics. Arzeena was also the co-ordinator for the Richmond Food Security Society and worked on the board for the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project, the Richmond Schoolyard Society and the BC Food Systems Network. In conjunctions with Kwantlen University, she helped launch the Richmond Farm School.

Now that she’s in the Comox Valley, she is sharing her passion for agriculture with local community groups such as the Comox Valley Growers and Seed Savers and the Fertile Ground Project. She also teaches soil science at North Island College. Amidst all of this, she finds time to be an awesome mom to two amazing kids, and manages her beautiful organic farm in South Merville.

Arzeena is also the Founder and Chair of the Mid Island Farmer’s Institute.

Robin Sturley, Green Arrow Farm

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Robin got her start in farming as an apprentice on a Certified Organic farm in Lytton, BC. She was initially motivated by a desire for some practical skills and a deeper connection to her food. That was in 2009 and she hasn’t looked back since.
She started Green Arrow Farm in the Cowichan Valley in 2014, and collaborated with three other farmers selling fall and winter vegetables at the Duncan Farmers Market. Shortly afterwards, she relocated to the Comox Valley and helped to found Merville Organics Growers Co-op. Robin recently procured her forever farm north of Courtenay and she’ll be growing a ton of delicious veggies for you!
Robin also has a passion for growing seed, and spent two years running a seed company in the Cowichan Valley. She hopes to continue growing organic seed for her own farm use and for sale to other commercial growers, and adapting traditional commercial varieties to our unique island climate.

Kira Kotilla, Kloverdalen Farm

21167597_1459842200771035_5968738929214007032_oKira grew up on a hobby farm in Merville. Since 2008 or so, she has been working towards starting a small farm. She spent a few years on the East coast completing a Plant Science Tech Diploma at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and working as a research assistant with the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC). After that she returned to the island for an 8 month SOIL apprenticeship with Saanich Organics and has been happy to be back in Comox Valley ever since!

In the summer of 2014 Kira and Ingemar Dalen purchased a small acreage just north of Courtenay. 2016 will be their second full growing season on the farm. This will be a year of putting up greenhouses, figuring out farm systems, starting the organic certification process, and digging, seeding, weeding (repeat, repeat, repeat) to bring you an abundance of fresh organic veggies!

This year they are taking a sabbatical and heading to Nepal to explore with baby Elif.

Mariette Sluyter & Brian Padlewski, Whitaker Farm

22141172_10156148368975016_6932524837606159553_nMariette & Brian relocated to the Valley with the goal of growing high quality food for themselves, their neighbours and their community.

Their background in systems analysis (Brian) and community development (Mariette) naturally led them to a life of farming.

Joining Merville Organics was a dream come true and they are grateful to be a part of a team that values community, food security, and soil health as key components of their business goals.

Mariette is also a board member with the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market and Brian sits on the Board of the Mid Island Farmer’s Institute.

Jay Williamson,  Tendergreens Farm

IMG_2312(1)Jay comes to Merville Organics via the South Island.  They started farming in 2013 as the salad greens manager at SunTrio Farm (in Saanich) for 3 years.  Following that Jay moved to Northbrook Farm to grow for Saanich Organics.

Growing up in the suburbs of Ottawa, Jay dreamed of living on the westcoast and made their way via UVic, where they got a Gender Studies degree.

We are so thrilled to welcome Jay as our newest member and look forward to lots of laughter and great farm brainstorming at the wash station.