Celebrating our heritage farms

Agriculture committee looking for operations active since 1864 to apply

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 28, 2014

The P.E.I. Mutual Insurance Company and the P.E.I. Agriculture Awareness Committee have teamed up to recognize and honour heritage farms across the province. That’s any farm that has been in operation since 1864. From left, are JoAnn Pineau, project manager of the committee, Terry Shea, CEO of P.E.I. Mutual Insurance Company, and Maryella Maynard, chairwoman of the awareness committee.

©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

Anyone interested in being recognized as a Heritage Farm can contact JoAnn Pineau at 902-892-1091 or via email at openfarmday@peiagsc.ca.

Passing the farm down from one generation to another is as much a part of P.E.I.’s history as anything else.

The P.E.I. Agricultural Awareness Committee has teamed up with P.E.I. Mutual Insurance Company to recognize and celebrate farms that have been in operation at least 150 years.

It’s the latest tribute in a string of 2014 celebrations as the province celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, the first of three meetings that led to Canada’s birth.

This project has been dubbed Heritage Farms. Special signs will be designed, manufactured and erected on farms to mark the historic achievements. Heritage Farms recipients will then be recognized at a special gala dinner on Sept. 12 in New Glasgow.

Terry Shea, CEO of P.E.I. Mutual Insurance Company, said it’s not a stretch for their firm to be involved.

“P.E.I. Mutual is a 130-year-old company that was started by farmers way back in the day so it was a good project for us to get involved in,’’ says Shea.

“We want to help promote a lot of the old farms out there.’’

Shea goes on to say what everyone knows all too well. To say that there aren’t nearly as many farms today, especially ones run by families, as there were in the 1860s is quite an understatement.

The recognition of P.E.I. Heritage Farms, which are family farms that have been in operation since 1864, is part of a project called Farming Homegrown Pride, an initiative to celebrate P.E.I.’s resilient and historic connection to agriculture. JoAnn Pineau, project manager for the P.E.I. Agriculture Awareness Committee, said it’s about showcasing the culture of the farms and promoting the benefits of agriculture in the province.

“It is just so important to let people know that these farms have been working so hard for so long,’’ Pineau said.

To receive a plaque, farms will need to go through an application process. Pineau needs a bonafide farm number, a property number, the year the farm was established, the surname the farm was established under and any historical documents that may speak to when the farm was established.

As of July 22, 24 farmers had contacted Pineau’s office to apply for a heritage plaque.

“We’re trying right now to get applications. We’re trying to find as many of these farms as we can because we don’t have access to private information. We need them to come to us.

“I’ve gotten so many applications so far from people who are renting a farm out because their kids have gone to university or done something else. It is kind of rare to find these people.’’

Maryella Maynard, chairwoman of the awareness committee, said they are dedicating extra effort to including these heritage farms in the 13th annual P.E.I. Open Farm Day on Sept. 21.

The P.E.I. Agriculture Awareness Committee brings together volunteers from the agricultural industry, agri-food businesses and government to promote the profile and importance of the agriculture sector.

“It will be really nice to recognize these people and put faces to them,’’ Pineau said.