An open letter to farmers wanting to sell me stuff grown on PEI

note after the fact: this exists. It is static, but contains lots of information.

My name is dave. If you are a farmer on this island, odds are I don’t know you. I’m the web projects lead at UPEI and a social media consultant in Charlottetown. I didn’t grow up on the island and, while i’ve been here 4 years I’ve still not done a particularly great job getting to know the people who grow food here on Prince Edward Island. (i grew up in norther new brunswick) I’ve bought fresh eggs from one farmer, been to an apple orchard a few times, and am currently in the process of trying to go out an strawberry pick. I have a share in a cow currently being raised by a friend in his yard in NS.

I want to have a connection to the food i eat. I want my kids to understand that food comes from somewhere, and really like the health, taste and environmental advantages of buying local food that grows here on the island. We called around today, after looking at a bunch of websites (and i talked to people at the farm fairs last year who assured me that there were “lots of opportunities” to buy fresh food, but had no system other than ‘call whozit who has lettuce early). Some people told us that strawberries picking was starting monday, some said later next week, some told us our information was outdated and one nice lady called us back today and said “we don’t even grow strawberries, i don’t know where you got that idea”.

This is not going to work. I need a simple, one stop place to go to get this information, and I need to not have to call twenty people to find strawberries that aren’t shipped in from who knows where. Same goes for everything else grown on the island. This is not very hard to do. You can do this. I can help, advise, or send you to others who can help you do this. Consider this as my commitment paid or unpaid to be part of a solution for this.

Here’s what i think we need for a Farm 2 Plate website. (in broad terms, think about a page like but for farming products on PEI)

  1. We need a website that you yourselves can update with times and products that are available. I currently have a few hundred people doing this at the university… you can learn how, and we can teach you how.
  2. We need a back up person committed to answering phone calls from people who are having trouble. Someone who will teach first but, most importantly, ensure that the information is posted.
  3. We need an automatic way of updating people from around the island when a new ‘availability’ has been posted. This is also not hard. People would be able to subscribe to this website like they would to a newspaper, except they would get the update by email or other means as soon as you put it on the website.
  4. People would need to accept that their product and the ‘client experience’ would be rated. Ratings are critical to success. We need to spread the good news and encourage others to do a little better.

There are a few technical details around this, we would need to decide what the ‘categories’ of food were, and how the content would get spread out. This is also not that difficult. It would require some cooperation, and someone in a position to make decisions, but it’s very easy to change this stuff on the fly. We could do it this way for this season and then talk about it over the winter when the timelines weren’t so short.

And that’s the thing. We could the earliest version of this running by next week. It would need to be worked on, adjusted and, if you’ll pardon the metaphor, weeded, but that’s not a problem either. It’s an organic process and there will be disagreements and frustrations, but i think this is important, and, as you will be in charge of your own content, you can make sure that things look the way you want them to.

I don’t know where we go from here. I would like to hear if you are interested, and how we can go about doing this. It may be that we talk to the government, or some other organization… i don’t know… but i do know that this is possible.

If you are out there and have done or are doing this… let me know about it. If i can help, great. If that help is just telling people about it… that’s great too.

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