*may or may not be chicken’s actual name
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 & Kloverdalen Farms are fully certified, while Whitaker and Tendergreens Farms are in transition.
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 conjunction 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
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. After a couple of years of putting up greenhouses and figuring out farm systems, they are now fully certified organic and producing an abundance of fresh organic veggies!
This year they are taking a sabbatical and heading to Nepal to explore with baby Eilif.
Mariette Sluyter & Brian Padlewski, Whitaker Farm
Mariette & 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.
Jay Williamson, Tendergreens Farm
Jay is the newest member of the co-op and comes to Merville Organics via the South Island. Jay started farming in 2013, beginning as the salad greens manager at SunTrio Farm for 3 years and then spending 2 years at Northbrook Farm, part of Saanich Organics.
Growing up in the suburbs of Ottawa, Jay always dreamed of living on the west coast and came to Victoria in 2009 to earn a degree in Gender Studies from UVic before discovering a passion for organic farming. When Merville Organics put out the call for new members, Jay leapt at the opportunity, found an acre of land to lease in “Deep Merville,” and made the move to the valley in fall 2017 to start up a farm.