Thinking big about small scale

Family Farm and Micro Processing Trade Show showcasing farm and processing equipment for family-sized operations

Mary MacKay
Published on April 21, 2014

Veseys Seed horticulturist Heidi Carmichael will be presenting a container gardening demonstration at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, at the Family Farm and Micro Processing Trade Show at the P.E.I. Farm Centre from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. G

©Guardian photo by Mary MacKay

Now that the weather has finally caught up with its springtime nature, it’s a prime time to focus on some things earthy.

It’s also timely that the P.E.I. Farm Centre is hosting its first Family Farm and Micro Processing Trade Show on Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This trade show, which has been specifically designed for Island farmers, home gardeners, food processors and chefs, promises to be a showcase of curious inventions and outstanding innovation pertaining to farm and processing equipment specifically scaled for family-sized operations.

“Many of the emerging farms on P.E.I. are small, even really even the larger farms are considered small by North American standards, so it’s often hard to find equipment that can improve the efficiency of the small-scale farm,” says Phil Ferraro, general manager of the Farm Centre Association, which is presenting this trade show as another activity of its Legacy Garden

project, which has received funding from the P.E.I. 2014 Fund.

“If they go to other farm equipment shows it’s usually large manure spreaders, large combines, large tractors that small new entering farmers can’t often afford and it’s just not suited for them.”

On the other hand, Ferraro notes the fastest-growing retail sector is farmers’ markets — this is where the micro processing aspect of the trade show comes into play with machines, equipment and ingredients that need for a small-scale operation.

“And there are no trade shows that I’m aware of that are specifically geared to that scale of equipment that would be appropriate for people that are doing on-farm, value-added direct marketing and selling at farmers’ markets.

“So the type of equipment that we’re showcasing is a step up from what you’d find at a department store, but not to the scale that a national or international processor would be interested in,” he adds.

“It’s the scale that you would typically see in a restaurant. And actually the restaurant suppliers who are participating are saying that they’re really quite excited because they don’t get many opportunities to showcase their equipment at that scale.”

The tradeshow list includes exhibitors from all across P.E.I. and Eastern Canada who will be showcasing a diverse lineup.

Bernardin Inc. representatives will be exhibiting canning and preserving methods and also displaying a full line of tools.

“They are going to introduce a lot of their products and show how to use them. They have a chef with them who has a lot of innovative ideas on canning and what to do with the canning jars,” says Marie LaVie, Farm Centre Association events co-ordinator.

There will be demonstrations of small farming machinery and products for the commercial farmer and home gardener by Willsie Equipment of Ontario, Acadian Machine Works of Tignish and Veseys in York.

Veseys Seed horticulturist Heidi Carmichael will also be presenting a container gardening demonstration at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, as well as talking about urban gardening.

“It’s possible to grow anything in a container as long as you provide the right amount of depth and a pot with the right amount of drainage,” she says.

A representative from Renewable Lifestyles from Travellers Rest will be on hand with their sustainable energy technologies for residential and commercial applications.

“He knows all the incentives and the different options that are available,” Lavie says.

“He’s also starting a CEDB, which is a Community Economic Development Business (program), so there is a tremendous incentive program that he has now for people that want to install renewable energy systems,” Ferraro adds of this program, which has been created as part of the Prince Edward Island Rural Action Plan to support local investment in innovative Island businesses.

Admission to the trade show is by donation. There will be entertainment and food.

There is also an extensive list of door prizes, as well a raffle for products and services donated by the exhibitors.

“With the recognition of P.E.I. being one of the top culinary destinations in the world and having the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, the type of equipment that will be demonstrated will be good for chefs, good for on-farm processing, good for (product) that is being sold at the Farmers’ Market, which is all great for promoting Island agriculture and Island food,” Ferraro says.