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. Now it consists of our founding members, Kloverdalen Farm, and two new farmers at Ripple Farm, all in the Comox Valley. Based on the Saanich Organics model, our goal is to increase production and distribution of fresh, organic and transitional produce within the Comox Valley!
This summer, you can sign up for our CSA box delivery program – where you will get the best of five farms for 15 weeks delivered to a convenient pick-up location in Comox, 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 Farm & Ripple Farm are fully certified as of June 2015.
Meet the Farmers
Arzeena Hamir, Amara Farm
Arzeena 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 moved to 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.
Moss Dance, Ripple Farm
Moss has always been a farmer at heart, even when growing up in suburban Ontario! In 2003, Moss wanted try out farming, so she left her home to be a farm apprentice at ALM Farm in Sooke. From there, organic farming became a full-blown passion for Moss, and she’s had dirt under her fingernails ever since.
Moss is also involved with local agriculture through the Comox Valley Organic Farmers’ Collective.
This year, Moss wants to grow a lot of potatoes, increase water supply and put up some new greenhouses. Most of all, Moss is stoked to be part of a new co-op!
Robin Sturley, Ripple Farm
Robin got her start in farming as an apprentice on an 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.
Robin has a passion for seed saving and spent the last two years running a seed company in the Cowichan Valley. She hopes to continue growing seed and adapting heirloom commercial varieties to our unique island climate.
This is her second year living in the Comox Valley, and her first at Ripple Farm. She’ll be growing a ton of delicious veggies for you!
Russell Heitzmann, Ripple Farm
A former Calgary resident, Russell left his life in the city to pursue a life of hard work and good food. He has worked with Merville Organics for the past three seasons, with Moss at Ripple farm in 2013, Arzeena at Amara farm in 2014, and in partnership with Calliope Gazetas at their own Umbella Farm in 2015.
This year will be Russell’s first year of farming without a business partner, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be doing it alone – his parents help out and make things a family affair, and the support of all the growers at Merville Organics makes growing tasty vegetables fun. Russell is grateful for the awesome support network of farmers and eaters that help him on his farming journey!
Russell is also a board member with the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market.
Kira Kotilla, Kloverdalen Farm
Kira 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!