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In the beginning...

This marks the first blog post from the Ontario Invert Farm with regular shipping season now in full swing. It's an exciting time of year with the continued planting of the pollinator garden, new stock arrivals, and perhaps most exciting - the 5 year anniversary of the OIF this fall.

Five years ago the Ontario Invert Farm offered only a handful of live invertebrates and was still in its infancy. It was back a little further that the OIF was even conceived as an idea during the fall of 2013.

It was during that time the I was in the midst of postsecondary studies and attending Fleming College in Lindsay Ontario. The OIF found its roots in a humble 10gal tank housing a colony of Daphnia. These were reared and sold for a little beer money and were part of a motley little arthropod collection maintained out of a fascination with the invertebrate world.

There was one sale in which a man drove for over an hour just come buy a colony of Daphnia for his daughter's science fair project. Somewhat surprised that anyone would drive such a distance for a $10 group of water fleas the I commended the father's dedication in helping his daughter with her project - the man smiled and said he was just happy to have found someone selling them. Turns out he couldn't find them anywhere and so didn't mind making the trip. When the man left the I reflected on what he had said: it wasn't only Daphnia which were rarely available and the list of what was commonly for sale to Canadians was laughably short in comparison to that available to those in the US and Europe.

During high school when I kept a sizable collection of reptiles the range of feeders available was perhaps even more limited and although the hobby had grown at a tremendous rate in the years since then the list of feeders had barely expanded at all. Animals which in the wild would eat dozens or even hundreds of species were placed in a situation where they were offered only one or two and expected to have long & healthy lives. Clearly there was (and still is) a need to vary the diet for the physical health of our animals but also as a form of captive enrichment, something usually overlooked when it comes to reptiles and amphibians. However the continuous problem faced by Canadian hobbyists is there are simply no sources offering the needed variety in feeders. It was from this need that the Ontario Invert Farm was born.

Initially the main focus of the OIF was on the propagation and sale of live invertebrates not typically offered in pet stores or by the big feeder companies. As time has passed this soon grew to also encompass clean up crews, beneficial insects, and eventually pet & display specimens as well. With this expansion our goals grew in scope as well, going from simply offering the hard-to-find and atypical feeders to now also encouraging the growth and interest surrounding the keeping invertebrates themselves, and a greater appreciation and education on the vital role that they play in maintaining functioning ecosystems and life on this planet.

When launching 5 years ago it was hard to believe things would have taken off as much as they have and I am thankful to our customers for their patronage and support along the way. The OIF strives to continue expanding our selection of inverts and increase the scale of production, but will never forget our humble roots with a simple tank of Daphnia that started it all.

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