The story says there were two of each animal aboard the Ark. Soon, Arks Harvest will also have two locations!

The not-for-profit food sharing cooperative, which already has a busy location at 15 High Street in Vankleek Hill, is opening a second location in Martintown.

Arks Harvest has partnered with W. Leitch Organics, an all-organic pork and chicken farm for the second location. Owner Betty MacDonald said she has been interested in the Ark’s Harvest concept since the organization opened in 2022.

“I’ve been watching them ever since they started,” she said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, W. Leitch Organics lost its export market in the United States. Betty’s daughter Hadrian got creative trying to find a new market for their pork products. She decided to begin an online store for their meat and had a freezer storage space constructed at their farm. Now, they are adding the Arks Harvest space and will operate the shop as a regular retail facility.

Arks Harvest receives its items from local farmers whenever possible. Items that do not grow locally like citrus fruits come from wholesalers. It is an entirely not-for-profit organization operated by volunteers. No membership is required, but people can purchase a membership in the organization so they can have a role in its governance. Arks Harvest is governed by a four-member board.

The aim of Arks Harvest is to provide low-cost, healthy food to middle class families, but there really is no target demographic.

“We’re not a food bank, but we donate to the food bank,” said President Nikole Jalbert.

Each week, Arks Harvest donates surplus items to the Vankleek Hill Food Bank.

In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, Arks Harvest is also offering meat from Terra Agri, maple sugar products from Fine and Dandy Maple Products, bread, and bulk food items. Customers are charged by the bag, rather than by item for most products. For the second location in Martintown, most orders for inventory will be managed through the Vankleek Hill location but they will also be working with suppliers closer to Martintown. MacDonald said interest from the community has already been strong.

“More than we expected,” she said.

Jalbert is enthusiastic about MacDonald’s plans for Arks Harvest in Martintown.

“She has some great connections,” remarked Jalbert.

W. Leitch Organics was founded by MacDonald’s father, William Leitch. She is a seventh-generation farmer on the property and Hadrian is the eighth generation.

The Arks Harvest location in Martintown opens on May 15. W. Leitch Organics is located at 18360 County Road 18, just west of the village of Martintown. More Ark’s Harvest volunteers are needed for the new shop. If you are interested, email [email protected] .

Arks Harvest in Vankleek Hill is open on Monday’s from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday’s from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday’s from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday’s from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday’s from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Customers lined up at Arks Harvest in Vankleek Hill. Volunteer Marie-Michelle Jolie is working at the cash register. Photo: James Morgan