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Goat farmer speaks out after backlash over business practices

A P.E.I. goat farmer who operates a petting zoo is defending her farm's practice of selling some livestock for meat after a Facebook post generated a heated discussion about the practice.

Island Hill Farm took heat over revelation some of its goats are sold for meat

Flory Sanderson is the owner of Island Hill Farm Inc. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

A P.E.I. goat farmer who operates a petting zoo is defending her farm's practice of selling some livestock for meat after a Facebook post generated a heated discussion about the practice.

The furor began when Island Hill Farm Inc. in Charlottetown shared a post from Terre Rouge, a Charlottetown restaurant, that talked about a goat donair it had on the menu with meat from Island Hill Farm.

Flory Sanderson, the farm's owner, received several comments, messages and even a phone call from people upset by the business practice.

Commenters expressed concern over whether the goats that were processed for meat were the same goats that are available for cuddling at the farm.

"It was really sad for me to get the comments because I am a farm first, I just happen to share my wonderful place," said Sanderson.

The farm has become a popular Island destination since opening in 2014 as a petting farm.

But Sanderson said her business has always included selling some goats for meat and was upset by the reaction to the post.

'It devastated me'

"Heartbroken. I was afraid people wouldn't come visit anymore because they thought I was a terrible person and yeah, it devastated me," she said.

Sanderson said she sells about 10 goats a year for meat, based on demand and that all her goats are raised with the best care possible.

More transparency likely

She said she doesn't actively advertise that some of the animals she raises are sold for meat, but after this experience, she will likely be more public about it in the future.

"I think that it's really really important for me as a farmer to make sure that people know where their food comes from," Sanderson said. "We need to educate people on our farming to table."

After the post, Sanderson said other P.E.I. farmers contacted her to offer support and shared their experiences of having to hide certain farming practices from public visitors.

"It's really difficult, that we love our animals so much but some do, the offspring do go for that reason ... It's sad that we have to hide," said Sanderson. "We shouldn't hide."