Some of you might remember the Community Farm Store when it was a cute little organic grocery store in Glenora. Well, it is still rather cute, but little is no longer the word for this thriving destination point that has grown by leaps and bounds since it moved downtown in the summer of 2003, and then by the bridge on the highway in 2014.
A look back to our humble beginnings would take us back to 1993 Glenora, when Octavia and her husband Christoff Altemueller thought to open a small organic grocery store just down the road from their biodynamic farm. The little store offered fresh baking, homemade soup, locally grown produce, eggs, chicken and wholefood groceries.
The store attracted customers who enjoyed the “community” aspects of a small store in a rural setting and were seeking certified organic food. It was a cozy place where everyone knew each other and there was always time for a good conversation over an organic cup of coffee and maybe one of Octavia’s famous cinnamon buns. The tiny store thrived despite the not-so-convenient location. Octavia’s mom Alice helped with the baking, and soon more staff was hired to help. In 1995 the bakery moved upstairs.
The store operated much like a co-op where customers paid a yearly sum to be members; and this membership entitled them to a rebate on purchases as well as the chance to order bulk grains, flours and other groceries at co-op prices. In the years to come the store offered the Valley’s first organic “box program”, and at the height of the program there were more than 220 families receiving a box of mostly local vegetables and fruit per week. The box program operated year round and discontinued when the store moved downtown.
Christoff and Octavia sold the farm and the business in 1999 and Susan Minette and Sue Wells became the new owners, Susan worked as the store's baker since 1997. The farm was purchased by Fiona Driehuyzen and Roger Link. Fiona still works at the Community Farm Store, where she has been working since 2006.
In 2003 the Community Farm Store went through many changes; Gail Maier came on as a third owner; the store became incorporated; and biggest of all - the store moved from Glenora to the beautifully restored “Duncan Garage” building in downtown Duncan. The new open-mall designed heritage building, together with over 2000 square feet and one of the best vegetarian chefs on Vancouver Island (Susan Minette) - offered perfect timing and atmosphere to expand their grocery and baking business to include an organic Coffee Bar and Café. The new coffee bar, named after the original owner of the Duncan Garage - Norman Corfield, was an overnight success. Susan had a hunch that a wider variety of simple wholesome lunch foods would appeal to the healthy Duncan community and she was right. On the Corfield menu, you’ll now find delicious homemade soups, sandwiches, rice bowls, casseroles, pizzas, and so much more!
In the summer of 2004, former employee (1997 - 1999) Nicolette Genier came to manage the grocery store and in the months to come, she purchased Sue Wells' shares to become one of the third owners.
In August, 2006, the store expanded, gaining another 500 square feet on the other side of the hall and continued to grow and improve.
After five years of active involvement, Gail Maier sold her shares in the business to café manager Susan, and store manager Nicolette.
September 6th, 2008, five years after the move from Glenora to downtown Duncan, a very big anniversary celebration happened.
This strong community that supported the store at its inception is our foundation and remains our “core” strength even to this day since we moved to our highway location and re-opened at the Garage in a 'convenience' store size.