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About Us

It's our mission to make good food, fresh from local farms, accessible to everyone in our community

Our Story

Seedlings

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, local farmers lost up to 40% of their anticipated sales. The South Island FarmHub was quickly established in response, with assistance from the Victoria Foundation Rapid Relief Fund, to help support our local farmers and ensure the community was able to enjoy fresh, healthy, and sustainable foods from farmers and food producers.

What began as a small seed has since become an established organization. Today, the FarmHub operates as a full-time produce aggregation and distribution centre, with our online farmers’ market now including over 35 farmers and 30 food producers—a number that is continually growing. We are proud to partner with farmers and food producers that maintain sustainable and ethical practices, grounded right here on Vancouver Island. 

New Growth
Image by Dan Gold

The South Island FarmHub has also established the Farmbucks program: an initiative which strives to get local, healthy, and sustainable food to those in need in our community, whilst supporting our local food economy. Through this program, we provide food to more than 30 charities and 6 schools in our community. Since its inception in 2020, Farmbucks has subsidized $305,000 worth of fresh, local food to feed over 15,000 people. To learn more and get involved, follow the link below!

As we move forward, we are committed to the support of our local food economy and being a leader of change in our community. Ultimately, we are a small but passionate group that strives to provide everyone with food that nourishes their body and the community. If this mission appeals to you, we implore you to learn more about ordering with us, joining our team, becoming a supplier, donating to our organization, and staying connected.

Interested in Joining Our Team?

If you have a passion for sustainable food systems and think you would be a good fit, we would love to hear from you! Check here for current openings, or get in touch to see how to get involved.

Position openings are also announced through our newsletter, so subscribe to get the latest.

Meet Our Team

The South Island FarmHub is an initiative of the Victoria Community Food Hub Society (VCFHS) and a partner organization of the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR). Our small team is made up of former farmers and grocery store clerks, food enthusiasts, and dedicated volunteers—all passionate people dedicated to creating a sustainable food system in their community.

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Colleen Popyk

General Manager

Colleen came to Victoria from Edmonton, Alberta in 2008 and quickly found employment at Square Root Farm/Saanich Organics and Share Organics, a former Victoria-based produce distributor. While she didn’t know it at the time, she can see now that she was setting a course in agriculture and local food distribution. Since then, she founded her own farm and also worked for Northstar Organics and Haliburton Farm. As the General Manager of the FarmHub, things have come full circle. "I am now in a position to help grow the businesses of those that help grow me,” she says.
 

She has been with the FarmHub since its inception in 2020, and does everything from onboarding and supporting producers to managing the box program to leading the future of the FarmHub. She is a bit of a coleslaw connoisseur, and also loves cats; she just got her first one, Fergus, three years ago, and has no idea how she has ever lived without him.

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Chelsey Svean

Distribution and Aggregation Coordinator

Originally hailing from Fort Nelson, a small town in Northern BC, Chelsey has lived all over BC and Alberta before settling in Victoria. She has a long working background in food, including at an organic grocery store and Share Organics, and as a farmhand at Colleen’s farm. After Share Organics closed, she has continued organizing an organic bulk buy program that supports farmers on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan. 
 

She was the FarmHub’s first employee, and handles home and wholesale deliveries, as well as order preparation and payables/receivables. Chelsey is a music lover of all sorts, and also enjoys reading and going for summer swims with her daughter Shaye. 

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Mariah Cunningham

Production and Delivery Assistant

Mariah was born and lived in Penticton for most of her life before moving to Victoria to study political science and environmental studies with a minor in applied ethics at the University of Victoria. It wasn't until she moved here that she started to really get into local food, and eventually geared her classes and field schools in that direction.

 

Mariah started as a food processing assistant for our sister hub, Kitchen Connect, and now covers all aspects of the ordering process: she meets the farmers at our aggregation site every Tuesday, packs and delivers wholesale orders, delivers home and wholesale orders, and creates and sends weekly FarmHub newsletters. She’s been loving finding ways to extend the life of local produce since starting at the FarmHub, and also enjoys cooking and sharing food with people, trying local restaurants, going to farmers markets, doing yoga, hiking, camping, and swimming.

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Carly Stefanowich

Food Production Assistant 

Carly is a lover of all things food! If she could be any vegetable it would be a cabbage because she is layered and versatile. Carly comes to the team with a lifetime of experience working in hospitality, both front and back of house. She’s spent time cooking for hungry tree planters too!

 

When she’s not in the kitchen, Carly can be found teaching natural dye workshops, slingin’ her sustainable clothing line at markets, playing scrabble, and taking afternoon naps with her sweet old cat.

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Bahareh Nikpey

Research Assistant, 

Net Zero Food Hub Project 

Bahareh is originally from Iran and holds a bachelor's degree in Engineering of Agricultural Economics and a master's degree in Agricultural Engineering-Agronomy. With around 8 years of experience in the agriculture industry, she is currently pursuing her second master's degree in environmental management at Royal Roads University. 

She is excited to contribute to the Net Zero Food Hub Project, which aligns with her background in environmental management and agriculture. The focus on reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainability especially resonates with her passion for environmental stewardship.

Bahareh enjoys almost all Persian (Iranian) food, such as Northern stuffed fish, Zeyton Parvarde (Processed Olives), Anarbij, Chelow Kabab, Jeweled Rice and more.

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Jocelyn Farmer

Events and Communications Assistant

Jocelyn was born and raised here in Victoria and after spending some time in Vancouver, and almost 2 years overseas in New Zealand, she now resides in Saanich on the traditional territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples.

 

As a recent graduate from Camosun College, Jocelyn is eager to put her fresh skills and experience to good use. With a background in communications, digital media, photography, and graphic design, Jocelyn is excited to contribute to the communications team. As a food lover and a local to the island, Jocelyn is thrilled to be a part of South Island FarmHub and Kitchen Connect!

 

In her spare time you can find Jocelyn hitting the local trails, taking photos of wildlife, gardening or snuggling up with her two cats and dog, and a good fantasy book.

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Allison Farrell

Food Processing Assistant

Allison was raised in the Victoria area on the traditional lands of the W̱SÁNEĆ. After graduating with an Environmental Science degree from Royal Roads University, she worked & travelled within many different parts of Canada, from Haida Gwaii to Churchill, MB. She’s happy to have returned to the island to lay down some community roots.

 

Working on environmental projects and within food production, Allison has developed a comprehensive perspective on food systems and a passion for sustainability and food equity. She’s thrilled to be part of a team where she can share her love of food and learn more about our local growers, makers and consumers!

 

Apart from work, Allison is most likely enjoying the sun at the beach, caring for her indoor houseplant jungle or trying to veganize a traditional Scottish recipe.

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Laura Gair

Director, Food Security & Resource Development

Laura Gair joined the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) in 2021, and is the Director of Food Security & Resource Development with Victoria Community Food Hub Society and CRFAIR. She was born and raised in southern Ontario/Haudenosaunee territory but has lived on the west coast for 15 years.  

Prior to moving to the Island, Laura was involved in food systems collaboration with the South Vancouver Food Network and Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks, and led community-based food security and literacy programs with South Vancouver Neighbourhood House. 

She studied Anthropology & Sociology at University of Guelph and International Nutrition at University of British Columbia, developing an appreciation for the interconnectedness of culture, land and food, and the importance of community driven initiatives. 

 

In her spare time, she can be found playing with her young child, snowboarding, practicing yoga, hiking, and enjoying the beautiful coastal life.

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Heather Vandenengel

Marketing and Sales Coordinator

Heather grew up in a small town outside of Boston, lived in Montreal for six years, and moved to BC in 2021. Her background is originally in journalism and writing, including managing and writing for Google Travel projects and working as a beer writer. Her passion for food and volunteer work on farms led her to study Food Security through Ryerson University, and then to work at Heavenly Roots Farm on Salt Spring Island and Square Root Farm in Central Saanich. 

Now she’s excited to put her diverse background to use at the FarmHub, writing about food and agriculture and engaging with the vibrant community here. Besides cooking and eating, she loves flowers, thrifting, and attempting to play various racquet sports. 

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Christina Southern

Web Support Assistant

Chrissy has been working for community organizations for 20 years. She started out as a graphic designer, then worked as an event coordinator managing large community events. She upgraded her skills as a student of PR at UVic and obtained her Diploma in Public Relations. Chrissy loves to create, brainstorm and see how a project can be built from an idea to reality. In her spare time she enjoys singing and writing music.

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Carolyn and Cyndy

Volunteers

Carolyn and Cyndy started volunteering for the FarmHub in December 2020. It was only supposed to be a three-month stint, but has since turned into many years. We are so grateful for their weekly help in the warehouse, weighing out produce items, preparing the subscription boxes, and packaging orders. We could not do this without them! Both Cyndy and Carolyn are also long-time volunteers for the LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project, gleaning fruit from trees around Victoria—Carolyn for over 25 years and Cyndy for more than 10 years. They are passionate about food, cooking, and supporting local farmers.

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Luca Nemet

Fundraising and Outreach Assistant

Luca Nemet (they/them) grew up in Youbou, a small town on Cowichan Lake and unceded Ts'uubaa-asatx territory, and moved to Victoria in 2021. Luca is grateful to be living and learning on lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ territories.

Luca has a background in communications and outreach, having worked with the South Island FarmHub and the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable as a Communications Assistant in 2023. They are excited to re-join the FarmHub team in a new capacity and look forward to strengthening connections with local producers, customers, and supporters.

Luca is in their final year of English undergraduate studies at the University of Victoria. Their research interests include citizenship and refugee literature, queer and feminist themes in Modernist literature, and Indigenous resistance in Latin America.

When they’re not working, Luca can be found exploring the city, practicing their Spanish, or curled up in a corner with a good book and their cuddly cats.
 

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Erin Leinweiber

Production Assistant

Erin grew up around the farms of Central Alberta and is enamoured with all things food. In 2022, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science major, Economics minor) from the University of Victoria. She is now pursuing a law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS.

Erin is excited to join the South Island FarmHub team as their summer Production Assistant! She will be assisting with packing & fulfilling orders, delivery driving, light processing operations, product quality control, and customer experience. 

 

When Erin has a free moment, she can be seen at yoga classes, trying new recipes, or reading.

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