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March 21, 2017

Island sheep farmers milking their way into cheese and yogurt market

A couple in North Rustico, P.E.I. is going back to their family roots to create a new line of cheese and yogurt products made from sheep's milk."Sheep farming comes from our desire to make cheese, it was more about cheese than sheep," explained Gabriel Mercier, who co-owns Ferme Isle Saint-Jean Farm, along with his wife Deirdre."We're the only ones making sheep's milk yogurt in the Maritimes and our grilling cheese, the only one in the Maritimes," he said.The couple met while working for the military in Nova Scotia. Gabriel's grandfather was an award-winning master cheese maker in Quebec, where he grew up, so when they were looking at life after the Forces, their thoughts turned to cheese.

"I got the passion from my grandfather and Quebec too, I've got a culture for cheese as well and I love cheese myself," explained Mercier. While on parental leave with their first son, the couple spent six months in Quebec, learning from a cheese maker.The final piece of the puzzle was the decision to move to Deirdre's home in North Rustico and transform her father's hobby farm into a sheep operation. "This is where I grew up, so it's very special to me that we're able to keep working here," said Deirdre Mercier, a descendant of the Doirons who first settled in the area in the late 1700s.Their flock arrived on P.E.I. in February 2015, during P.E.I.'s infamous Snowmaggedon.

Article was written by Nancy Russel. To view the full article visit www.cbc.ca.

Gabriel and Deidre participated in the Food Island Partnership Food Xcel program. The participants were one of the seven finalists to compete at Final Pitch day on February 22nd, 2017. 

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