Farmer Kira, Farmer Jay, Farmer Robin & Farmer Mariette
GOOD NEWS STORY FROM MERVILLE ORGANICS
It’s hard to find good news stories in these times but The Merville Organics Growers’ Cooperative has one. Due to the overwhelming success of the co-operative, we will be disbanding at the end of 2020. While this may sound not sound like good news, it is, in particular for the Comox Valley. The co-op was designed to grow small farms and it has done that job incredibly well!
Merville Organics was born in 2014 as the brainchild of Moss Dance, Ripple Farm, and Arzeena Hamir, Amara Farm. As it formalized, Kira Kotilla of Kloverdalen Farm, Robin Sturley of Green Arrow Farm, and Russell Heitzmann & Calliope Gazetas of Umbella Farm came on board to grow, and Merville Organics started becoming a familiar name in the community.
A few years later, Mariette Sluyter & Brian Padlewski of Whitaker Farm and Jay Williamson of Tendergreens Farm joined.
Through this co-operative, small farms explored their capacity by working collectively on marketing and distribution. In its short time, the co-op has had 7 farm members come through the coop, and of those members, 4 farms have grown into cornerstones of the regenerative food system in our community.
What began as a 15 member CSA program in 2014 grew to a 190 member program by 2020, showing us year after year that our community is eager to support small local farms.
Merville Organics has also maintained a strong presence at the farmers’ market, with big lineups and a varied selection of vegetables all of the summer season and long into the winter months.
Starting in 2021, Kloverdalen Farm, Tendergreens Farm and Whitaker Farm will each offer their own food box programs splitting up the current programs to ensure the community continues to be well served. As well as each farms’ own farmgate sales, Whitaker and Tendergreens, will have a presence at the market.
To our many supporters and customers, we want to thank you for your continued energy and support. Our farmers keep farming because you have shown us quality certified organic local produce is important to you. Simplifying logistics and staying flexible in these uncertain times is what is needed from our growers in order to serve you best.
Meet the Farmers
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!
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.
Food security is a big driver for Whitaker Farm so Mariette volunteers her spare time on the Board for the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market.
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 and then moving to 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.