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Congratulations to Lester and Sharon Craig of Tryon, PEI, winners of the 2018 Gerritt Loo Memorial Achievement Award. The award is presented each year during the annual ACORN regional conference, which was held in Charlottetown at the end of November. Lester and his wife Sharon are principal owners in a successful 8th-generational mixed farm. Craig Family Farm is a mixed farm producing conventional and certified organic grains and potatoes, and purebred Limousin beef. The farm has been sustained over the generations through hard work, a respect for the land, and an ongoing commitment to innovation and diversity.

Judy Loo presents Lester Craig with the Gerritt Loo Memorial Achievement Award at the 2018 ACORN conference //submitted photo

The award is given each year to the person who has contributed significantly to the organic industry in Atlantic Canada. In a press release, ACORN stated, “Lester is a quiet leader, a modest and humble visionary who prefers to operate under the radar. He has been asked to put his name forward for various awards and recognitions and has always declined. He was actively conserving soil through his standard farming practices and the installation of conservation structures, long before it became industry standard. Lester’s commitment to his farm, the land, his community and his family as well as his innovative approach to farming is what makes Lester Craig a most deserving recipient of the Gerritt Loo Award.”

The PEI Department of Agriculture & Forestry is once again partnering with the PEI Enhanced Environmental Farm Plan Program to recognize producers or commodity groups committed to practicing and raising awareness of environmental farm planning and implementation. Nominations for the Gilbert R Clements Award for Environmental Farm Planning are open until January 11, 2019. This award was established to recognize excellence in sustainable agriculture and is named in recognition of the Honorable Gilbert R Clements’s commitment to the environment.

Island agricultural producers and commodity groups are eligible. Nominations should detail the nominee’s overall approach to environmental stewardship, community involvement and role in increasing public awareness about sustainable agricultural practices. See the PEI Federation of Agriculture website for further details and forms.
After a four-year court battle, Brookfield Gardens has been fined $15,000 for their part in a fish kill. The farm was found guilty of violating the Fisheries Act after more than 1000 fish were found dead in North River in August 2014. At a sentencing hearing in September, the prosecutor suggested the family-run farming business should be fined up to $200,000; however, in early December, provincial court Judge John Douglas handed the farm a $15,000 fine instead, recognizing that the pesticide run-off that had caused the fish kill was a result of unusually high rains and not due to the farm’s carelessness.

Brookfield Gardens had initially been found not guilty, but the PEI Court of Appeals overturned that conviction. The farm has had support from many other farmers, and the PEI Federation of Agriculture released a press statement in which they said, “The farming community does not condone reckless disregard for the environment, but we contend that is not what happened in this case…The law Brookfield was convicted of breaking, is in essences being interpreted to state, that Brookfield Gardens and any person needs to guarantee that no harm will come to the environment, even in the event of a severe rainstorm. This is simply unrealistic and unfair.”

The Food Xcel program started in late November with 17 food entrepreneurs spending a day in workshops and networking at the Start Up Zone in Charlottetown. Peter Van Stolk, founder of Jones Soda, spoke frankly to the participants about his experience in building consumer loyalty and the need to have a true purpose with business. As he wrapped up his talk, he said, “People are looking for connection, they want community.”

Dana McCauley speaks to food entrepreneurs at the first session of Food Xcel //photo credit: Cheryl Young/Salty

Dana McCauley, the founding Executive Director for Food Starter, a food business incubator and accelerator in Toronto, was the second speaker of the day. She led a few sessions designed to take the entrepreneurs through the stages of an idea for a product to creating that idea into a business.

The range of food products that the group represents is wide: pasta sauces, mustards, protein balls, spice packs, cider, beer, canned seafood, kombucha, pickles, frozen baked potatoes, and biltong. Participants are looking to get their food on retail shelves, and through a combination of progressive workshops, as well as networking opportunities with food agencies, industry experts, and other entrepreneurs, they will learn the ins and outs of doing so. They will also get a chance to compete for a $25,000 award from Innovation PEI’s Ignition Fund. The final two sessions wrap up in January and the competition is slated for late February.

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board elected a new executive in November. Jason Hayden is the new chair after serving as the vice chair in 2017-18. Hayden also served on the Potato Board for four years as the tablestock director for the Charlottetown District. He farms with his family in Pownal. The new vice chair of the board is Chad Robertson of Souris. Chad and his family own and operate Marvyn’s Gardens Inc. John Hogg from Summerside will continue in the role of Secretary-Treasurer. Hogg and his family own and operate Klondike Farms. As well, three new directors were elected: Craig Wallace of Wallace Properties Ltd, John Visser of Victoria Potato Farm Inc, and Billy Cameron of Cameron Farms. Remaining directors are Harris Callaghan, Glen Rayner, David Francis, Rodney Dingwell, Wayne Townshend, Mark MacMillan, and Kyle Maynard. The Potato Board represents Island potato farmers and assists in growing the markets for PEI Potatoes locally, nationally, and internationally.

The Board also recognized the efforts of retiring board members Darryl Wallace, Alex Docherty, and Fulton Hamill for their service over the past few years.

The Board supports the production of high quality potatoes in an environmentally responsible manner, and is funding and conducting research in the areas of soil health, pest and disease management, quality, and yield. Directors are elected to represent four districts across the province, and each district is represented by a seed grower, a tablestock grower, and a processing grower. Directors serve three-year terms and are eligible for re-election to serve a second three-year term. The directors serving on the PEI Potato Board are all from family farms with a heritage of growing potatoes and other crops for many years.

Congratulations to the Youth National Team for their two silver medals at the 2018 Villeroy Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, which was their first international competition. Held in two parts, the team of nine were required to prepare a three-course meal for 70 from scratch in six hours and prepare a contemporary buffet for 12 people from scratch in four and a half hours. They placed 8th amongst 15 nations.

The Culinary Youth Team Canada with their silver medals in Luxembourg //submitted photo

The team’s mandate started in June 2017 after the Canadian Culinary Federation’s annual conference. The Culinary Institute of Canada was chosen to represent Canada, to build and train a team of young culinary professionals for international competitions. The team will continue to train and finish with competing in February 2020 at the IKA Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart Germany.

About Salty Staff

A diverse group of people, the Salty team works hard each month to bring you great stories about PEI's food and farming community.

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