Oyster Cove Farms is the 2019 winner of the Gilbert R. Clements Award for Excellence in Environmental Farm Planning.
The fifth generation family farm received the honour during the annual meeting of the PEI Federation of Agriculture. The award was established by the Department of Agriculture in 2003 to mark the contribution of Gilbert Clements— the first full time environment minister in the province’s history and a former lieutenant governor. Clements died in 2012. The award is now co-sponsored by the Department of Agriculture & Forestry and the PEI Enhanced Environmental Farm Plan Program.
The farm is operated by John Ramsay, his brother Bobby, wife Linda and three adult sons Ben, Matthew and Michael. John and his brother Robert took over the farm from their father, David in 1973. The operation has been Oyster Cove Farms since 1994.
The farm was originally a dairy operation until the mid 1990's when it transitioned to processing potato production. Most recently, the farm operates as a split operation, producing certified organic grains, oilseeds, hemp and potatoes along with conventionally managed cereals and processing potatoes.
Their production systems are very focused on cover crops and soil building crops, with a goal of maintaining winter cover on a minimum of 75% of their acreage. The Ramsay family continuously explore production opportunities that contribute to the balance between the economic and environmental health of the farm.
John currently holds a seat on the Potato Processing Committee through the PEI Potato Board. Matthew is active with the Kensington North Watershed Association, sits on the board for the PEI Soil and Crop Improvement Association and is a director with the PEI Organic Producers Cooperative. Matthew has assisted in the development of an online multi-media tool and a stewardship report, both focused on improving soil health.
The practices used by Oyster Cove Farm clearly show a dedication to building soil health, using sustainable production practices, and on-farm research. The Ramsay family are known by their peers as continuous learners who share openly knowledge, experience and information, and have strong community connections and working relationships with volunteer-based watershed and other community organizations.