pe-macphail-spring

The homestead ran into financial troubles earlier this year. ((CBC))

The Friends of the Macphail Homestead on P.E.I. are developing a plan for an organic farm on the site that would double as a research centre.

Earlier this year the Macphail Homestead, home of Island author and doctor Sir Andrew Macphail, was nearly shut down after financial problems. The province is keeping it open as a historical site for two more years, but after that its future is uncertain.

"This is one area that P.E.I. I think could be doing much more in," said Friends spokesman Harry Baglole of the organic farm plan.

"It could certainly bring in revenue for the homestead."

Baglole said a report on the homestead suggested this very idea 20 years ago.

"There could be experiments to see what sorts of organic fertilizers would be useful, how pests would be controlled," he said.

The group has still not determined how much the idea would cost.

Margie Loo, an organic farmer in Valley, east of the homestead, welcomes the idea. She said organic farmers could use the research support.

"In the summer we don't have time to try a lot of new things out," said Loo.

"There are niches in the marketplace that people could take advantage of if they had the opportunity to learn new skills."

Loo will be involved in a public conference Thursday on the future of the centre. Representatives from the province, and other organizations will also be present.

The board of the Macphail Homestead will then determine whether an organic farm centre is something the community would support.