By Tori Vail
Feb. 2, 2016
Kevin Carter had been farming for years when he decided to take his sister’s advice about growing more sustainable food.
She went to agricultural school, but she didn’t quite buy into the idea that chemicals are essentials to agriculture.
That made sense, Carver said.
Low-bush blueberries are native to P.E.I and have grown here for thousands of years, he said.
“One day people started saying there needs to be chemicals to grow more blueberries, bigger and faster.”
It was after talking to his sister and looking at the long-term out-look for farming that something switched in his brain, Carver said.
“This is not right.”
In 2007, Carver founded PEI Berries, an Island company that grows blueberries.
As a farmer, Carver knew he could make a difference in the way P.E.I. eats, he knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Today, Carver continues to work with researchers in Canada and the United States to make his farm more sustainable.
Allison Walsh is the project manager for the company.
The chemical system tries to eliminate everything, live in a bubble, but they try to accept some of the bad things and work with Mother Nature, she said.
“They are not trying to beat Mother Nature down, because she will always win.”
We are not trying to save the world in a day, Carver said.
“It’s seeing what is coming and working with it.”
Many farmers get upset when birds eat their crops, but these birds don’t live off blueberries, they are after the insects, Carver said.
“They take some blueberries, but I don’t need every last berry.”
As humans, people need to understand these creatures were here long before us, long after us, Carver said.
“We have to learn to share the sandbox a little.”
General manager Nathan Archiealb said they have 400 acres of blueberries, but harvest only 200 acres a year. The other 200 are sprouted.
“We mow and the berries sprout one year and harvest the next year and rotate so one field is recovering and the other has berries.”
They have 120 feet of crop and 22 feet of hedgerow in the middle and another 120 feet of crops so birds live in the hedgerow so they control some of the insects, Carver said.
“Crop year is the year with abundance, so there is a lot of bee food there. The hedgerow makes it so the bees never have to move their homes.”
Since no chemicals are being used, there are more bugs, but as bad bugs increase so do the spiders, Carver said.
“In a chemical system, they try to eliminate everything, but we have to accept some bugs and nature.”
They are not 100 per cent organic because they still use herbicides, Carver said.
“There are three different types of ‘cides. Herbicides deal with the weeds, fungicides are the fungal diseases and insecticides are what gets rid of the bugs.”
They only use herbicides, but are looking to reduce the amount. They didn’t use any herbicides last year, Carver said.
“When you start using insecticides, you are killing all the spiders in your field. Without them, you will lose some products to bugs, but as bad bugs increase, spiders increase because of the food supply.”