Lovena and Ryan Harvey's first "Gathering Place" was an organic farm near Whistler, British Columbia. An idyllic location full of old growth trees, the couple farmed organically for five years, selling their fresh produce to local markets, grocery stores, and restaurants in the area. This was the start of their obsession with organic and was the genesis of the Gathering Place Trading Company.
Lovena and Ryan have always shared common values and dreams and one of them was a love of Africa. One of their goals was to establish a business that would support the organic growers of South Africa — Ryan's birthplace. In January of 2003, fate led them to the doorstep of Frans and Gerda's Organic Rooibos farm. During an afternoon spent sipping the best Rooibos they'd ever tasted, Lovena and Ryan learned of the Frans and Gerda's commitment to organics and their stewardship of the land.
They learned that Franz and Gerda were the first farmers to grow organic Rooibos and the first to export it out of South Africa. They also discovered that the farmers hand harvest the tea themselves, the best way to ensure the highest quality Rooibos. Ryan and Lovena realized this was the product and the people they wanted to promote.
Only a few weeks of thought and research were needed for the couple to realize that this was their golden opportunity. The Harveys suggested an unorthodox trade, a 1975 VW Jurgens camper van named Skillpakie ("Tortoise" in Africaans) in exchange for their first ton of tea.
Cortes Island, British Columbia is the home of Gathering Place Trading and Lovena and Ryan's growing family. They live in a small community of eight children and seven adults on 22 acres land. Honouring their farming roots, they have created gardens, orchard, and livestock places, becoming more self sufficient each year. Their three beautiful children, Kai, Tosh and Asha are their daily inspiration and time spent in nature and with their community help keep them balanced.
Gathering Place Trading Company continues to grow and thrive, now importing organic spices, hand harvested sea salt, pineapple, coconut, as well as organic teas. We now have our packing facility in beautiful Campbell River, BC. Gathering Place products can be found in 150 stores across Canada or can be ordered directly. Thanks for your support of our family business!