September 28, 2018
Building Memories with Passion
Since the arrival of an unanticipated gift from her father-in-law -- a goat named “Lucy” -- Flory Sanderson has skillfully built Island Hill Farm into one of the top food tourism destinations on P.E.I. Though she initially found being both a woman and a farmer in business challenging, she credits her husband Robby and her team, mentoring by Kent Thompson from Food Island Partnership and others, and visits to top competitors as vital to meeting demands she faces every day.
Flory’s entrepreneurial spirit has paid increasing dividends since 2015 when Island Hill Farm was named one of the top businesses in Canada by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. From early beginnings, when a friend suggested she create a destination for people to visit and interact with her animals, Island Hill Farm now has 132 goats and growing. A plan that initially envisaged 40 visitors per day now sees days when over 300 people travel to enjoy her farm. “I’m ready, and I know where I want to be,” says Flory. “I’m proud I can make so many people happy and proud to be able to employ people.”
Flory is busy creating value-added products such as goat soap; a cheese developed with local cheese maker Gabriel Mercier; goat milk ice cream; and goat meat for local restaurants. “I enjoy educating people about the farm-to-table philosophy. It’s our future. It’s important to know where your food comes from, and I’m happy to be partnering with retailers, food producers and restaurants across the Island.”
Innovative new developments unfold for Flory daily -- space in the farm originally conceived for the creamery is being transformed into units for farm stays welcoming visitors up to a week; Jeff McCourt of Glasgow Glen Farms recently created the first goat cheese with her milk; and she relishes mentoring children from local schools, students from the Atlantic Veterinary College, seniors, as well as people with mental health challenges. “I feel like I’ve created a special place where people can make memories,” says Flory.
Indeed. And that is her gift to Prince Edward Island.
By Magner Ink (www.magnerink.com). This is one in a series of articles on the P.E.I. Food Cluster.