Marc Schurman lives on his third-generation farm in Kensington, PEI, Schurman Family Farms and Atlantic Grown Organics, with his wife Krista and three kids Benjamin, Quiton, and Samantha. After High School, Marc headed off to Truro’s Dalhousie Agricultural College, where he obtained his Plant and Science Degree in 1997. In 2001 the first greenhouses were built, in the early 2000’s the farm transitioned out of the livestock business and from 2015 until now the greenhouse business has grown significantly to 4 acres under cover. The operation produces various varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and many greens for the local and wholesale markets and with the addition of lights in 2014 has been harvesting all year ever since. Marc depends on Mexican workers for the greenhouse operations so as a job requirement speaks as much Spanish as English in the run of a normal day. Marc has always strived for learning and leadership and so has been a part of many leadership groups over the years including CTEAM (Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management), AALP (Atlantic Ag Leadership Program) and is currently involved with WMI (Wallace McCain Institute). In 2006, Marc and Krista were awarded the Outstanding Young Farmers Award, which is given to young farmers who exemplify excellence in their profession.
Name: Marc Schurman
Occupation: Owner Schurman Family Farms/ Atlantic Grown Organics
What are some of the sustainability methods you use on your farm?
We produce solar power.
We use high effecience LED lights to grow crops all winter long.
We use renewable, carbon neutral biomass (wood and crop wastes) to heat our greenhouse.
How are you proactive on your farm?
We have always prided ourselves in the innovation we have introduced into our operation. We were the first greenhouse under lights of our size in the region and also the first to convert to LED lights. Now we are embarking on a project to better control the greenhouse using artificial intelligence.
What are some negative things people assume about farmers? Why is that not the case?
People assume farmers are “old school” and not up with modern times but farmers use technology more and more and embracing technology is the future of farming.
What do you want people to know about farmers?
It’s important for people to understand that farmers livelihoods are dependent on the land, water and natural resources. In a changing climate these are impossible to manage in perfect harmony no different than it is for any household to manage their environmental footprint perfectly. But farmers are ever striving to improve how we manage our farms more sustainability.
What does your job entail?
There is certainly lots of variety in what my day might entail depending on the season and what the current challenges are. We have 4 acres of greenhouses with multiple crops and we grow and harvest year round so there is always lots to be done, It could be managing people, managing the business, or up on the roof fixing a sheet of plastic and everything in between. Lots of variety every day!
How long have you been involved in agriculture\food industry on PEI?
I am the third generation on this property. I have been involved with agriculture all my life. I went to Dalhousie Agricultural College and graduated in 1997 and have been farming full-time ever since.
What is your education/ experience prior to entering your current job?
I grew up on our family farm which consisted of livestock and field crops at that time. I went to Dalhousie Agricultural College and received my Plant and Science Degree and then came back to the farm and diversified into the greenhouse business. I spent a few years off the farm in various Ag business including a short time in the greenhouses in Mexico and these experiences certainly taught me many things I was able to bring back to use here on the Island.
Are you involved in any extracurricular or community activities?
I have been involved in many boards and organizations in the past but have retired from most of those recently to concentrate on our growing business. Most recently I was Chair of the Certified Organic Producers Co-operative and on my church’s Stewarts Committee. The kids also keep us busy. Krista and I have twin boys who are graduating high school this year, and a younger daughter who is 15, so there is always a lot going on with them and their extracurricular activities.
What’s your favourite product you grow and what’s your favorite way to eat it?
I’d have to say there is nothing better than a fresh ripe grape tomatoes right off the vine!
When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I don’t think there was ever one thing that I wanted to be while I was growing up, every kid has lots of dreams and ambitions. There were times in Junior High and High School when I said I never wanted to farm, but I guess I caught the bug and have been doing it ever since.
What would you want consumers to know about your business and the agriculture/food industry?
I would have to go with the local and organic pitch; it’s what our business is centered around. We have local products grown right here that supports the local community, economy, and are certified organic.
Why do you do what you do?
I get up every morning because I love what I do, I have fun, and I am challenged every day. There are lots of stressful days too, but I am a very project-oriented person, so I like new challenges. With this occupation, I have the opportunities to put those challenges in front of myself and solve them.