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Trade Show to Focus on Small Scale Agriculture

and Micro Processing
by Prince Edward Island ADAPT Council
February 9, 2014

An increasing number of farms and food processors across North America fall into the category of “Small or Urban Agriculture, and Micro-processors.” Located in or near cities and towns, these small-scale food enterprises often serve a high-end niche market.

“There is resurgence in interest in agriculture and wholesome foods, but what we are seeing in a lot of cases is small, specialized farms and processors,” Phil Ferraro said. “For new farmers, the cost of land and equipment often puts large-scale agriculture out of reach. For processors, the big retail chains have pretty well shut them out.”

Ferraro said, small scale entrepreneurs often have trouble finding equipment well suited to their needs. The association hopes to help with that problem when they host a trade show geared to small- scale operators next March. The PEI ADAPT Council is providing funding to research the feasibility of trade shows under the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program.

Ferraro said there have been tremendous advancements in equipment geared to small scale food production and processing. There are now walk behind blueberry harvesters and grain combines and “there are bottling machines about the size of a desk that will handle 1200 bottles in an hour.”

He said the trade show fits in well with plans by the association to revamp the Farm Centre on University Avenue to meet the needs of the industry in the 21st century. The Centre is now undergoing major renovations including everything from energy efficiency and a small commercial kitchen that can be used for micro-processing. It is also a major beneficiary of the PEI 2014 Fund to create the ‘Legacy Garden,’ honouring the past and present while contributing to building a vision of the future of Island agriculture.

The general manager said the association’s board of directors wants the Farm Centre to become much more than an office building. They plan on hosting events throughout the year that will not only bring farmers together, but will promote interaction between the agricultural community and the general public.

“Some of our board members remember when they used to come to the Farm Centre as children for family events,” he said. “We hope to be able to bring that feeling back.”

Ferraro said the association is hoping that trade shows and related festivities will become an regular events. The general manager said the group has already started contacting companies that might be interested in exhibiting and “we are really pleased at the level of interest.”

A date in April has not yet been finalized. However, expect to hear more about the trade show in early spring.

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