Three young people are trying out a different style of food production at Hudson’s Farm in Campbell River.
Kira DeSorcy, 21, Emily Morin, 19, and Mark Mitchell, 25, started their produce-growing business, Vibrant Organics, this past spring. It’s a CSA (community supported agriculture), which means it sells directly to consumers instead of through mainstream avenues. Vibrant Organics is also set apart from other produce companies with its focus on small-scale farming and an emphasis on connecting consumers to the food they eat.
“It’s really great to get people to connect with their food better,” said DeSorcy. “Just to see what grows in your climate at that time, and just to be more connected to your climate.”
Focusing on seasonal growing, Vibrant Organics only has produce available in season, meaning customers won’t be able to get tomatoes in June because they aren’t ripe in June. While it isn’t certified organic, DeSorcy said organic methods of growing are used.
It runs a box program where people who sign up receive a box of fresh produce each week for $30. The boxes are jam packed with things like potatoes, zucchini, lettuce, beets, peas, beans, herbs, and many other items. The box program also gives out interesting seasonal food recipes and a newsletter with updates on Hudson’s Farm. Although the boxes can be shipped out for a fee, Vibrant Organics encourages people to come out to the farm to see how the food is grown.
“We have a really open door policy; people can come and check out the farm and see what we’re doing,” said DeSorcy.
Vibrant Organics has seven people signed up to the box program to date, but has a maximum number of 15 spaces available for this year. For details on the box program call 250-286-4800 or email email@example.com.
Vibrant Organics also has a shop at Hudson’s Farm which is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays. Mitchell said freshness of the produce stands out compared to produce shipped in from somewhere else.
“We harvest in the morning so when you get here mid afternoon the carrots were harvested two hours ago; they’re still alive. They probably still think they’re in the ground,” said Mitchell with a laugh.
Since they just started their business in April, the three are using the first year as a trial year to work out the kinks, and they will try to expand Vibrant Organics next year. The trio met while they were in the horticulture technician program at Camosun College in Victoria, and graduated together in April 2010. Morin and Mitchell spent the past year working on a farm for room and board (known as WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) to gain some hands-on experience with farming, while DeSorcy came back to her hometown of Campbell River and started some local gardening initiatives, like the Edible Courtyard at Timberline Secondary School (see page A9)..
Morin said this year has been a huge learning experience.
“It’s a more amazing learning opportunity than wwoofing, or going to horticulture school, or than having your own garden,” said Morin. “We’ve learned more than all of those experiences combined probably.”
DeSorcy said the business has potential because it isn’t selling to grocery chains so receives more return on investment. She urges people to get into farming, pointing out that the average age of food producers is over 60 right now.
“We need more local food, we need more organic food production,” said DeSorcy.
“Campbell’s definitely not there yet, (in terms of food production), but I can see sparks,” said DeSorcy. “It’s starting.”