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Barn quilts offering colourful draw to rural areas of P.E.I.

Marg Weeks hopes quilts like this one that adorns a wall of the Farm Centre in Charlottetown and others on 18 farms across P.E.I., will prove a good contribution to agriculture tourism. Jim Day/The Guardian
Marg Weeks hopes quilts like this one that adorns a wall of the Farm Centre in Charlottetown and others on 18 farms across P.E.I., will prove a good contribution to agriculture tourism. Jim Day/The Guardian

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Prince Edward Island’s scenic, rolling rural landscape now has even more splashes of eye-catching colour.

Unique wooden quilts are prominently displayed on 18 barns across the province as well as one hanging high on the Farm Centre in Charlottetown.

Marg Weeks brought the idea of a barn quilt trail to the P.E.I. Agriculture Awareness Committee earlier this year.

In turn, the committee was able to secure up to $50,000 in federal funding through the Canada 150 project.

Weeks, who has been “engulfed in agriculture’’ all her life, helped launch the trail recently.

The trail gives locals and tourists a more intimate connection to farms while providing an economic spinoff to rural areas as people pull into craft shops, gas stations and other businesses while driving from one-quilt-adorned farm to another.

Weeks says the locales with quilts show the diversity of agriculture in Prince Edward Island, with participants including potato, beef, organic and equine operations.

The self-guided driving trail features barns ornamented with likenesses of old-fashioned, brightly painted, patchwork quilt blocks, called barn quilts.

The barns are spaced at varying intervals, so locating each one is like a scavenger hunt over rural roads, providing an adventure in agriculture tourism.

Highly visible from the road, the barn quilt trail provides information about the agriculture industry.

Take the Townshend Potato Co. Ltd. in Rollo Bay West, for example. A seventh-generation operation, the Townshend family has continually farmed the land for over 200 years.

The design of the quilt reflects the farm in harmony with the land, forest and waterways and respect for the local bird life. The border is a variation on swallows return and flying geese traditional blocks.

Barn quilts was started in Ohio by a woman inspired to brighten up the plain tobacco barn on her property. Within a few years, her creatively painted quilts turned into economic development and tourism enhancement for communities across the United States.

And now the barn quilt projects are spreading across Canada.

The hope for the P.E.I. Barn Quilt Trail is to enhance community spirit, lend an artistic touch to existing pastoral beauty, foster adventure tourism, and provide a distinctive and long-standing salute to rural life.

Weeks says the quilts, made with high quality exterior latex paint to ensure longevity, are meant to have a permanent, pleasing presence.

She also anticipates the quilt trail to expand to more farms.

“We hope that this is a beginning,’’ she says. “It has a value.’’

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