Since day one, Kathy and I have built Made with Local with the intent of telling the stories of Atlantic Canadian farmers and food producers; connecting people with those who grow the food that nourishes us. As our little farmer’s market stall has grown, so has the daily tasks of keeping this ‘little train that could’ chugging along. We share lots of links and facts via our social media platforms, but man, sometimes we wish we could just scream these farmers & producers’ stories from the mountaintops because they’re so damn amazing.
The story of Mark and Sally (is that a John Mellencamp song?) is one that truly energizes us. They’re two young, multi-generational farmers who decided that they’d take the road less travelled and dive in to Mark’s family’s 500acre farm in PEI, rebranding it as Barnyard Organics, and committing to giving back more the earth than they take from it.
I met with Mark and Sally last week at a local coffee shop; they were bumping around Nova Scotia for a few days before their busy season kicked off. An awesome, kids-free roadie, visiting tons of restaurants and shops around the province that use grains they’ve grown – organic oats and milled flours that are distributed under the Speerville brand.
Every MwL bar and our Loaded Oats instant oatmeal contain oats that have been grown in the soil that Mark and Sally take such care to nurture. They cultivate other grains too, including Acadia Wheat, a cultivar of wheat that was previously thought to be impossible to grow in our region, until Barnyard Organics turned a little envelope of seed into thousands of kilos of this gorgeous heritage grain. These guys are pretty much agricultural rockstars. In addition to all the grains, they grow organic soybeans, and have happy, pastured chickens that are sold to the community in a CSA (community shared agriculture) program. They also have one lone cow and pig, which Sally referred to as ‘pets/volunteers’ on the farm, which is what I’ve decided I’d like to be reincarnated as in my next life.
Getting to sit down with these two was such a treat – honestly, kind of like hanging with old friends (so…Sally and Mark, can we be, like, friends?). Learning about their life, their drive to produce organic foods tailored to Atlantic Canadian’s needs, and the innovation and determination that goes in to making their operation a reality – it was so inspiring.
Also inspiring – how to be so damn attractive when you are working 7 days a week/365 days a year and have four small kids? I mean…LOOK AT THESE TWO!
Sally and Mark with a stash our Real Food bars and Loaded Oats!
Our little coffee date flew by way too quickly and I had so many more questions pop up after bidding adieu; but I’m grateful get to meet the people behind the oats that really are the building blocks of everything we do. It’s easy to forget that farmers and food producers are so much more than what you see as a customer. Their products are the result of backbreaking work that is done because they have a mission – to connect more people with food that has heart.
Our little family of bars and Loaded Oats are just an extension; a vessel to bring more of this big-hearted food into your life. Thank you so much Mark and Sally for sharing your story with us. Everything thing you do is appreciated and you’re making an amazing impact on our region. So…seriously…can we be friends?