Keisha Rose Topic

Keisha Rose: Words from a Farmer on Sustainable Farming Practices/ Improving Public Trust on Prince Edward Island

Name:  Keisha Rose Topic           

Age: 32

Place of Employment: R.A Rose and Sons Ltd, Rose’s Organics, East Point Potato |6 Years|

Why do you farm?

It was not an immediate decision to farm. After high school – while going to university, I worked on the farm during planting season.  After a few spring seasons of that, I knew, I enjoyed it so started to think more about a career in  agriculture.  I worked for the department of agriculture with crop insurance after graduating with my business degree but after 2 years of that could not ignore my urge to be on the family farm any longer.  

My Favorite thing about farming is the work is always different. I work outside with my hands at some points of the year, but then I also get to work in an office environment and use my head to think and problem solve more at certain times as well. It challenges me in different ways every day and keeps life interesting! 

What measures/ practices do you take on your farm to be sustainable in agriculture? 

We live in the environment we work in so we always want to make sure we are treating our farmland and the environment the best we can. We have an environmental farm plan, we do soil sampling every year and have for a long time, this way we can see how our soil is doing and make sure we are using appropriate inputs or using the right rotation for that field. We use crop scouts in the summer to monitor pests and disease in plants and make sure we have certain levels before we would use a pesticide. We have been trying more multi species cover crops and doing a lot of our own trials to see what works best for the soil health, winter cover, and pest management.

What do you find challenging today in farming?

One of the many reasons, I went into farming, is because it was not a public career. I could live in North Lake, in my quiet part of the world and do what I love. But now I feel like if you go on social media, you get a subset of people that are speaking mistruths (very loudly) about what goes on a farm and about certain farming practices. I find that part difficult, I did not want to be an advocate, I just wanted to farm and do it to the best of my ability but you kind of have to start to speak up about it if the story is not being told well in the public eye. Farming/ Agriculture is the same as any career in the modern age, as new technology and research is done, we move ahead, and the people that are in that career are paying attention to the research and technology all the time.  There may have been things that were done in the past that were the wrong thing, but I believe farmers are learning and sustainability is especially important to us all. Constantly learning is something that you have to be doing all the time in this career.

What things could agriculture organizations being doing to improve public trust?

Honestly, it is a difficult to know, I think. Getting the more positive farming content and truth about what farmers are doing out there on social media and to the public is key. Getting consumers to understand where their food comes from is also a big thing, like where in the world is this produce in the grocery store coming from, what did it take to get here etc.

What things do you do on your farm to help build public trust?

We make sure we have a good relationship with the community/landowners we may rent from. If there are any concerns that were brought to us, we would try and deal with it. I think it is hard for famers to focus on this piece because we are busy trying to farm. I, as well as most other Farmers are more than happy to give a tour or answer questions if anyone ever wanted to come for a visit.

How do you catch your breath and have a break?

I enjoy spending time with my family, life with a one-year-old now keeps me on my toes but I like to soak up all the time I can get with her and my husband. I usually try and fit in some type of exercise. I enjoy running, or just a beach walk with our dog is great too!