PEI

New P.E.I. crop signs help identify what's growing in fields across province

If you've ever driven by a field and wondered what was growing there, a new promotion on P.E.I. may help. It's called the P.E.I. Farm Tour and features more than 35 signs placed in roadside fields across the Island.

More than 35 signs have been placed in roadside fields across P.E.I.

More than 35 signs are placed in roadside fields across the Island. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

If you've ever driven by a field and wondered what was growing there, a new promotion on P.E.I. may help.

It's called the P.E.I. Farm Tour and features more than 35 signs placed in roadside fields across the Island.

Each sign includes the name of the crop and a link to a website where the public can find out more about them.

The crops range from well-known ones such as potatoes, barley, and wheat, to newer ones, such as peas, brown mustard, and sudangrass.

"To educate the public on what crops are grown in fields, see what they look like and then go to our website," said Santina Beaton, co-ordinator with Farm & Food Care P.E.I.

"They could learn how the crop is planted, when it's planted, when it's harvested and how it's harvested."

Willing participants

Beaton said she had no problem recruiting farmers willing to be part of the promotion.

"Farmers were very supportive of this initiative," she said.

We'd like everybody to share that pride and recognize the crops and educate themselves on how their food gets from farm to plate.—Santina Beaton, Farm & Food Care P.E.I.

"We just asked around and were very easily able to place all the signs."

There is also a crop sign contest, where the public can submit photos of the signs they've seen.

Each sign includes the name of the crop and a link to a website where the public can find out more about them. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

"We ask people to please not disturb or pick any of the crops without the farmer's permission but people can take pictures or videos and share them on social media with the hashtag [PEI Farm Tour],​​" Beaton said.

"We've already had a few so far so it's been exciting."

Aimed at locals

Beaton said while tourists may be interested in the signs, they are also aimed at people who live on Prince Edward Island.

"People are more and more removed from the farm now, there's fewer and fewer people farming," Beaton said.

"We're very well-known for food and farming and we'd like everybody to share that pride and recognize the crops and educate themselves on how their food gets from farm to plate."

Santina Beaton, left, says she had no problem recruiting farmers to be part of the promotion, including Ian Drake of Seal River Farms. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

Raise awareness

Ian Drake is one of the owners of Seal River Farms in Cherry Valley, P.E.I., along with his brother and father.

"Santina called me just the other day actually and asked if she could put a farm sign up in the barley field," Drake said.

"I said 'Sure that's no problem at all.' If it helps the public know what we're growing and what we're doing here, that's great.

Mustard is one of the newer crops featured on the P.E.I. Farm Tour. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"A lot of times tourists and even neighbours will be driving by the fields and they won't know what's growing," Drake said.

"It just makes people aware of what we're doing here and that they'd be able to enjoy some of the products eventually from P.E.I."

Drake has a simple answer for what he hopes passersby will learn about his fields.

Seal River Farms has 400 head of beef cattle, 350 acres of potatoes as well as hay, grain and corn silage for the cattle. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"When I look at this field, to me it's two of my favourite things: steak and beer," Drake said.

"We feed the barley to the cattle and they grow nice and juicy steaks and beef to eat and my second favourite is beer, of course, it can be used to make beer."

More signs next year

The idea for the signs originated with Ryan Barrett at the P.E.I. Potato Board.

 "This time of the year it's beautiful, the fields look beautiful, a lot of people are running the roads on P.E.I. this time of year," said Greg Donald, general manager of the board.

"What a great opportunity to put signs up so the public has a better idea of what we are growing in those fields."

Ian Drake was happy to have one of the signs posted in front of Seal River Farms in Cherry Valley, P.E.I. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

The signs will be taken down at the end of the growing season and put up again next spring, and the plan is to add even more signs.

The budget for the project was about $4,000, mostly from the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Land, through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The P.E.I. Farm Tour also had support from the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, P.E.I. Wild Blueberry Growers Association and P.E.I. Horticultural Association. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

The P.E.I. Farm Tour also had support from the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, P.E.I. Wild Blueberry Growers Association and P.E.I. Horticultural Association.

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About the Author

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water rowing, travelling to Kenya or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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