We talked to Soleil Hutchinson about her organic vegetable farm and how she’s brought together her passions for food and community.
Tell us about your farm:
I started farming about 15 years ago. I apprenticed on a mixed-vegetable farm in Oregon for a couple of years before returning home to PEI where I rented land for several years before buying my own property. Soleil’s Farm is 7 acres, with 3-4 acres in mixed vegetables and the rest under cover crops each year. Our farm runs a collective in which many farms work together to fill CSA baskets; Soleil’s Farm specializes in lettuce mix, carrots, beets, cherry tomatoes and sprouts. Our growing season stretches from March - December with CSA baskets available May - December. We also sell wholesale: direct to retail stores, restaurants, and PEI’s new food hub, Growers Station.
Why did you become certified organic?
Once I purchased my own land, I decided to become certified organic. Working collaboratively with other farmers for the CSA, being certified organic means that we're all on the same page about how we manage our farms and what we're selling to our customers.
As a farmer I see myself in relationship with the land, striving to engage responsibly in the ways we grow nutritious food for our community. As a farm we are certified organic because it is one of the ways we can express our commitment to soil health, the land, and our community.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
The biggest stress was around financing to purchase the property. It was a big investment and I had no other job or savings; it took a lot to get the banks to legitimize my business.There were a few years of putting every bit of earnings back into the farm while getting comfortable with the land and the farm business.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I love problem solving! We have a broken food system and I want to help in a little way to make a difference. I feel that community and collaborative efforts will make the biggest long-term impact and have the potential to change our food system.
Where to buy:
Find out about CSA food baskets, retail stores and restaurants - and how you can join the community by visiting Soleil’s Farm website.