Show­ing pride in pota­toes

O’Leary hosts farm­ers award ban­quet as part of Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES - BY ALYSHA CAMP­BELL

A small but mighty town has rec­og­nized their farm­ers’ ac­com­plish­ments.

O’Leary had lots to cel­e­brate fu­ture farm­ers, hired hands and many mile­stones, to name a few.

Robert Irv­ing, pres­i­dent of Cavendish Farms, as well as nu­mer­ous other dig­ni­taries ac­knowl­edged the qual­ity of the pro­duce and spirit of the com­mu­nity dur­ing the re­cent Farm­ers Award Ban­quest as part of the an­nual O’Leary Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val.

“I can see a lot of pride in this town, and it’s be­cause of the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity,” said Irv­ing told the crowd gath­ered at the O’Leary Com­mu­nity Sports Cen­tre.

The love for pota­toes and hockey (O’Leary was re­cently named Kraft Hock­eyville for 2017) is some­thing the com­mu­nity and Irv­ing have in com­mon. Even the Zam­bo­nis have Cavendish french fries on it and what’s a hockey game with­out ‘rink fries’?

Fam­i­lies are at the cen­tre of it all, and multi-gen­er­a­tional fam­ily farms aren’t un­com­mon on the Is­land.

“Through­out Canada’s his­tory the fam­ily farm has been at the heart of food pro­duc­tion for our coun­try,” said Irv­ing.

One of those fam­i­lies was rec­og­nized as ‘Potato Pro­ducer(s) of the Year.’ J& J Smallman Farms is a fifth gen­er­a­tion farm, Ja­son and Jeff Smallman have been farm­ing to­gether for 30 years on the fam­ily op­er­a­tion. The grow­ing farm has not only ex­panded in acreage but also added a help­ing hand. Four years ago Jeff’s son Mor­gan joined the fam­ily busi­ness.

The farm has worked very hard to pre­serve and pro­tect en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives and con­tin­ues to join projects that keep en­vi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness at the fore­front.

Other awards handed out were, ‘Hired Hand’ to Jimmy McAssey, ‘Fu­ture Farmer’ to Colton Grif­fin, ‘Potato Am­bas­sador’ to Emma Jean Grif­fin, and the ‘Irma Dumville’ award to Melissa Cle­ments.

While it might be the farm­ers award cer­e­monies, ev­ery­one in the com­mu­nity was cel­e­brated. Ev­ery­thing from Hock­eyville vot­ing, or the Mill River Ex­pe­ri­ence win­ning burger love, to the O’Leary Se­nior Ma­roons hockey team’s big win. No re­cent ac­com­plish­ment or mile­stone was left with­out praise.

Ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties are strong and O’Leary is a good ex­am­ple of that, said Paul Jack­son of the P.E.I As­so­ci­a­tion of Ex­hi­bi­tions

“The spirit and heart of small ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties like ours will not take a back­seat to any city in this coun­try.”

“The love for pota­toes and hockey (O’Leary was re­cently named Kraft Hock­eyville for 2017) is some­thing the com­mu­nity and Irv­ing have in com­mon. Even the Zam­bo­nis have Cavendish french fries on it and what’s a hockey game with­out ‘rink fries’? Robert Irv­ing

ALYSHA CAMP­BELL/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Award win­ners at the O’Leary Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val Farm­ers’ Awards ban­quet in­cluded: Melissa Cle­ments (left), Emma Jean Grif­fin, Colton Grif­fin, Jeff Smallman and Mor­gan Smallman. Miss­ing from photo are Ja­son Smallman and Jimmy McAssey.

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