4834 Cedar Hill Rd
Falkland, BC V0E 1W1
Administrator: Cara Nunn
Phone: (250) 540-2557
BC Certified Organic Program-Regional-Crop Production, Livestock, Processing
May 11, 2014-May 11, 2015
The Similkameen Valley is unique in having one of the highest concentrations of organic growers and processors in Canada.
The Organic movement started with small-scale farm growers who believed in healthy, natural, environmentally friendly farming. We have growers in the Valley that have been growing food without toxic chemical inputs for 30 years and longer. These pioneer organic farmers inspired others who moved into the area and began farming organically. They were concerned not only with producing wholesome harvests. They were also determined to improve the quality of the environment that their own food was grown in. Believing that toxic chemical sprays would be harmful to themselves and kill their beneficial insects, whose work they would then inherit, they abandoned the use of pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers. Since healthy soil is the basis for plant health, a strong emphasis on soil building began to develop.
This new attitude that began developing within the farm community coincided with a heightened awareness of toxic chemical inputs and their damage to the environment. Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” was one of the main influences in the increased interest in the concept of organic farming. There were no standards for organic farmers at this point in time and no definition of what an organic farmer was, there was just a persistent notion that if alternatives to toxic chemical controls were sought, they would very likely be found. In the Similkameen Valley, farm workers were becoming more vocal about their poisonous work environment and began to demand that farmers not spray while they were working in the orchard. A new attitude within the “farm workers community” was growing as well and it was represented by the formation of a Farm Workers Union that called for safer working conditions for people working around toxic chemicals commonly used on farms. Shortly after this the WCB developed the pesticide applicators course, which is designed to teach farm workers about safe application of toxic pesticides and other toxic chemical inputs.
The Development of Certification Programs & the Formation of SOOPA
Following the trend developing in the organic industry, the Similkameen Valley organic growers followed suit in 1986 when 10 founding members initiated the formation of the Similkameen Okanagan Organic Producers Association (SOOPA).
SOOPA was formed to develop a certification process and draft standards for our local organic farm community and to give some definition to a way of farming.
Certification had developed in the United States with the formation of the organization called the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), which was founded in 1975. The Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) was founded at about the same time and they were followed by the formation of many other certification organizations. These organizations were in the process of defining the term “organic” by drafting standards that would guarantee quality assurance to their customers.
SOOPA encouraged, and still encourages, a high level of participation from its members and the task of drafting comprehensive grower guidelines was undertaken. As a result of these guidelines its membership grew. Originally SOOPA had a 5-year transition period, a very limited material list of allowed substances and a rigid whole farm policy. The system of third party verification was developed within the industry, which led to the formation of the “Independent Organic Inspector Association”, the organization that oversees and trains our verification officers. Over time some of the policies that were drafted when the group first formed have been changed. These changes reflect an attempt to bring all standards for organic production into worldwide unity. In 1995 SOOPA changed from a 5-year transition period to a 3-year transition period.
SOOPA was the first certifying organization in British Columbia. SOOPA has farmers in its program producing everything from fruit and grapes, to ground crops, livestock, greenhouse crops and processed products.
SOOPA and other BC certification groups created the Organic Alliance, the provincial association of organic groups functioning up to 1993. The Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia (COABC) was founded in 1993 by the provincial government with the help of SOOPA and other BC certification groups using the Food Choice and Disclosure Act.
SOOPA has served as a model and inspired other organizations in the area. Today the Similkameen Valley has the highest concentration of organic growers per capita in Canada and it is growing every year.
The history of organic farming in the Similkameen Valley is uniquely joined to the fate of the codling moth in this farming area. Codling moth cydia pomenella is the worm in the apple. An uncontrolled population will explode and render an apple crop unmarketable in two years. Agriculture Canada scientists used the Similkameen Valley to develop a non-chemical control method for the codling moth in the 1970’s. By releasing large numbers of sterile males into the wild population they were able to virtually eradicate the insect. In the absence of the persistent presence of the highly toxic chemicals normally used for codling moth control the populations of beneficial parasites and predators were able to grow and do their job of managing
secondary pest populations. S.I.R. has proven to be very successful and is an ongoing program.
In 1999 SOOPA adopted the COABC standards.
In 2001, at the SOOPA AGM, a resolution was passed to redefine SOOPA’s Whole Farm Organic Policy.
The definition of the Whole Farm Organic is:
WHOLE FARM ORGANIC reflects traditional farming methods, as it does not accept the use of toxic chemicals, synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified crops.
In an attempt to approach the ideal model, Whole Farm Organic attempts to coexist with and respect all of nature.
Whole Farm Organic uses:
There is an emphasis on mechanical and hand labour.
In 2002, a new certification body in BC, PACS , was created primarily for expediting international trade of BC organic products. Several larger SOOPA growers and handlers became members of PACS and SOOPA’s membership was reduced. At the 2002 AGM, a vote was held and it was decided to maintain SOOPA as a certifying body. SOOPA retained its fundamental role of certifying organic farms and continues to serve its members in this capacity.
As members of SOOPA, we pride ourselves on the integrity of our organic methods of farming and the quality of our products. Organic agriculture provides people with healthy, wholesome food. It is also an attempt to create a healthier environment for all living organisms. Hopefully, some day, many more people will realize the importance of healthy soils and clean air and water.
Happy Organic Farming and Eating
Board of Directors
|Vice President||Melissa Marr|
Yuri Zebroff, Felix Boulais, Dennis Caulfield, moses Brown, Duncan Baynes, Lesley Pendleton;
|COABC Rep||Felix Boulais|
Guy Villecourt, Chair; Gabrielle Villecourt member
Transitional Assessed to the BC Organic Standards and in transition to full organic status. For more information click here.
Pending Application for assessment to the BC Organic Standards submitted - certification review decision pending. For more information click here.
|Beaumont Estate Vineyards||Alex Lubchynski,
|Blackbird Organics||Corey Brown,
|Brown Schneider Farm||Moses Brown,
|Chilco Orchard||Duncan Baynes||Keremeos||Certified||Farm|
|Clos du Soleil Winery||Mike Clark||Keremeos||Certified|
|Crazy Dog Farm||Nancy Caulfield,
|Eagle Ridge Organic Farm||Guy Villecourt||Cawston||Certified||Farm|
|Fester's Peppers||Robert (Douglas) Haggarty||Oliver||Certified||Farm|
|Honest Food||Yuri Zebroff ,
|Kaleden Acres||David Ure||Kaleden||Certified||Farm|
|KDO Farms||Laurie Dyck,
|Lucid Prunes||Gabrielle Villecourt||Cawston||Certified||Farm|
|Mackenzie Farm||Maria Mackenzie,
|Mountain Grove Orchards||Perry Bilawchuk||Penticton||Certified||Farm|
|Mountain Springs Farm||Peter Jmaeff,
|Peaches and Dream Farm||Peter Mildner||Osoyoos||Certified||Farm|
|Silver Lake Estate Farm||Moyra Armstrong||Naramata||Certified|
|Similkameen Apiaries||Blair Tarves,
|SoleTerre Vineyard||Franco DePieri,
|Stoney Paradise||Dragi Djordjevich,
|Tulameen's Lavender Farm||Ed Petschl,
|Valentine Farm||John Gordon,
|Vialo Orchard||Seth Johnson,
|Zebroff's Organic Farm||George Zebroff ,