Our Day on the COPC Farm Tour

On July 6, 2017, six of SALTY’s team took part in a media farm tour organized by PEI Certified Organic Producer Co-operative (COPC). Along with other members of the media, government, food industry, and Maritime farming community we toured five organic farms in central PEI. We learned many interesting facts along the way. Here are my top 11:

11. Typical organic farming yield is about 75% of conventional farming yield by acre farmed, but is often more labour-intensive, which helps explain the increased cost of organic produce. Red Soil Organics, North Wiltshire

10. Dexter cows are born with gelatinous hooves that don’t solidify for about 72 hours. During this time, calves can slip through the electric fence without a shock since they aren’t grounded. Dexter Cattle Company, North Milton

Dexter cattle at Dexter Cattle Company//Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty


9. Bumblebees are used for pollination in greenhouses because they are less social. “If one finds a nice clover field, he won’t come back and tell others. So my whole hive won’t just [buzz off].” Mark Schurman, Schurman Family Farm, Spring Valley.

Greenhouse red pepper at Schurman Family Farm//Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty


8. Blight is wind-borne. To avoid spraying chemicals to fight blight, keep tomato plant leaves dry and out of the wind to minimize the chances of blight. Heart Beet Organics, Darlington

7. Carrots require 98% humidity to keep the orange vegetable crisp and firm. In cold storage, a cold fog is blown over the carrots to maintain temperature and humidity. Red Soil Organics, North Wiltshire

6. While the same species of hemp can be used for textiles or for grain, the harvesting processes are so different that most farmers focus on one end product or the other. In the future, growers hope to be able to harvest grain and fibre from the same field. Square One Organics, Oyster Cove

Field of hemp, Square One Organics.//Photo Credit:Laura Weatherbie/Salty


5. Dexter cows are left with their calves during milk-producing months. The cows reserve their best milk, the cream, for their calves, providing naturally-homogenized milk at their once-a-day milking. Their milk can be used for cheese but not butter, because there is no cream in it. Dexter Cattle Company, North Milton

4. PEI soil is rich and generally rock-free. Because of this, there are also less trace minerals in the soil to be absorbed into foods. Adding rock dust, a byproduct of mining, to the soil once every twenty years replenishes many of those missing trace minerals. Heart Beet Organics, Darlington

Heart Beet Organics farms on approximately 1.5 acres of organic land.//Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

3. Greenhouses can be heated by burning biomass from other agricultural endeavors. The resulting ash can also enrich compost. Schurman Family Farm, Spring Valley

2. Hemp seed poses a special challenge when harvested–it needs to be dried immediately, from 25% humidity down to 8% humidity, in only a few hours. Square One Organics, Oyster Cove

1. North Americans prefer a longer, pointier carrot, like the Imperator variety; while Europeans prefer shorter, stubbier carrots, like the Chatenay variety. Red Soil Organics, North Wiltshire

Crates for carrots in cold storage at Red Soil Organics.//Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie