GREEN MEADOW, P.E.I. - Green Meadow Farms Inc. in Morell is purchasing three pieces of automated equipment with the help of Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency funding that will improve efficiency and make the workload easier for employees.
“It’s not that once the machines are in place, all of the sudden we’re going to lay people off. It’s just going to make it easier for people,” said Thys Polstra, who runs the farm with his brother Terry. The farm was established in 1993 by Reitze and Anneke Polstra.
On Tuesday, the farm received a $155,141 repayable contribution from ACOA to help purchase the equipment.
Two pieces of equipment are automated 10-pound potato bagger machines.
“It takes an empty bag, fills it and sews it without manual labour involved,” he said.
“It’s going to make the job a lot easier for the help. It’s a lot of work hanging bags and sewing bags. The workload is going to be easier.”
The other piece of equipment is a master baler that packages 10, five-pound potato poly bags into a larger bag. Polstra estimates the farm produces about 25 million pounds of potatoes a year.
The ACOA funding will contribute about 40 per cent of the costs of three pieces of equipment, he said.
Also receiving ACOA funding on P.E.I. was Marvyn’s Garden Inc. in Elmira. The farm received a $180,000 repayable contribution to help cover the costs of purchasing and installing an advanced ventilation system that will control the climate inside a new refrigerated potato storage facility that is being built. The ventilation system will allow the farm to store potatoes year-round, according to a press release.
Lawrence MacAulay, MP for Cardigan and federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, visited both farms on Tuesday.
“It’s these people that create the economy, but it’s up to the government to try and help them create the economy,” he said. “There are so many aspects of the industry to address, and that’s what we’re doing.”
MacAulay said it is important to help farms with innovation and increase the production of food because the global demand for food will increase as the population grows.
He added that the packaging machines will help improve the Morell farm’s efficiency.
In terms of the Elmira farm’s ventilation system, MacAulay said he installed a ventilation system on his farm nearly 40 years ago.
“Now, it’s even much more efficient. I always explained (the difference) was like a beautiful Christmas apple compared to a shriveled apple. And, if you want the potatoes to be perfect and in great shape, then you have to have the proper ventilation system,” he said.