PEI

Winter greens: P.E.I. farmers taking a more year-round approach

The first snow is down across Prince Edward Island, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good, Island-grown salad.

Fresh produce into the winter and earlier in the spring

Underneath a tunnel of plastic in a snowy field, crops are growing. (Submitted by Jennifer Campbell)

The first snow is down across Prince Edward Island, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good, Island-grown salad.

More P.E.I. farmers are extending the growing season, using greenhouses or covering fields in plastic, and lettuce is a particularly good candidate for late-season growing.

Amy Smith and Verena Varga with radishes from their greenhouse. (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

"The greens are actually sweeter," said Amy Smith of Heart Beet Organics in Darlington, in central Queens County.

"They are higher quality than the greens we grow in the summer months. A lot of them just seem to actually prefer the cooler conditions."

Smith and her partner Verena Varga have been farming in the winter for six years. Apart from the obvious benefits of adding months where they are earning income, there are also fewer concerns with bugs and weeds.

Planting season has already started

Jennifer Campbell of Wilmot Valley is experimenting with extending her season this year. Campbell said her customers appreciate the quality of local produce.

"One thing I hear time and time again is, your greens, they just last so long," said Campbell.

"People are saying … I can buy your greens and I don't have to throw them out."

It's white outside the plastic tunnel, but inside it's green. (Submitted by Jennifer Campbell)

Heart Beet Organics will experiment next year with using winter farming to get produce out of the ground earlier. They are planting onions now that will overwinter in the field and be ready to harvest in June.

"The biggest boon is just that there's such a huge demand for it," said Smith.

"Our customers are so excited to see us at the farmers' market on Saturdays, and to know they can get really high quality lettuce greens at this time of year."

Greenhouse growing will allow Jennifer Campbell to sell fresh produce right up until Christmas. (Submitted by Jennifer Campbell)

With files from Stephanie Brown