Skip to main content

Organic Origins

Mary Alice Johnson moved to the Sooke neighbourhood in the mid-1980s. When she first arrived she worked on setting up literacy programs in the area.  After some time furthering Sooke literacy, Mary Alice wanted to explore other career possibilities. During a one-season experiment with farming, she discovered what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

Down the street, a deserted farm with a decrepit barn covered in Scotch broom caught her eye, and she fell in love. Farming was dying out in the region; yet, her contemporaries were inspiring to her. At the time such contemporaries would have been farmers Jane Lunson and Joan Yates, as well as Mary Alice’s mother.

A sepia photograph of a woman standing beside a tractor with her arm resting on the open door.

Mary Alice Johnson in her element, July 22, 2015.

Today that old farm is the 10-acre ALM Organic Farm in Sooke, owned by Mary Alice. Some call her the “mother” of organic vegetable growing and farming in Sooke. Every year since 1994, the farm has received a “Certified Organic” designation. She also started a seed company called Full Circle seeds.

A logo consisting of a circle containing four white silhouettes of people arranged radially (head towards the center of the circle) and carrying together, in the middle, a shining sun. To the right of the drawing are the words

The current (2020) logo for Mary Alice’s seeds company, Full Circle Seeds.


Listen to the audio clip with transcript:  “Interview with Mary Alice Johnson”

Mary Alice’s commitment to her community has not stopped at agricultural production.
She has apprenticed over 100 farmers through the Stewards of Irreplaceable Lands (SOIL) program, many of whom have started farms of their own. Her master’s degree in teaching from Michigan State University has equipped her with the skills needed to be an effective teacher.
A sepia photograph of two women leaning against a pole in a greenhouse.

Marika Nagasaka and Keeley Nixon, two young women who worked at Mary Alice Johnson’s ALM Organic Farm, July 22, 2015.

This sharing of Mary Alice’s farming knowledge is important in a region where food security efforts are growing, locally-grown food has always been important, and small-scale growers are more often growing their food at home.