Growing Organic Potatoes in PEI: Kentdale Farms
The red fields of Prince Edward Island are renowned for growing potatoes.

Fred Dollar’s decision to grow organic potatoes is built on that reputation.

Located just northeast of Charlottetown in the community of Winsloe, the Dollar family operation has gone through many changes since it started in 1915. The farm was a dairy operation until the decision to sell the cows and the milk quota 15 years ago.

A friend had some organic certified land and suggested Fred try growing five acres of potatoes.

“I said, ‘what the hell. Why not?” said Fred, who works on the farm with with his wife, Vaunda, and son, Kent.

Today the farm is producing at capacity, supplying fresh potatoes in five pound bags bearing the Kentdale label.

The bags are sold in Sobey’s and Superstore in the Atlantic region with revenues exceeding $2 million a year. It’s one of a handful of organic potato operations in the province.

The farm obtained organic certification in 2001 with the Maritime Certified Organic Growers.

Since 2003, the operation has been certified with the Organic Crop Producers and Processors based in Ontario.

As demand grew for their potatoes, the family built their own packing and cold storage facility on the farm.

They grow round whites, red skinned, yellow fleshed and Russetts.

The 2014 season has brought tricky weather, first with a cold, wet spring that delayed planting and now a dry summer.

Since the Dollars don’t irrigate, the farm requires about an inch of rain per week.

In July, the farm had received about half of what was needed. Conditions have improved in August, but the Dollars are also fighting wireworms and potato beetles.

They use an organic, clay-based spray to control insect pests. Fred said he would like the Pest Management Review Agency to approve more products that are already available in the United States.

Cull potatoes either go to a local beef producer or to a dehydration plant at Souris.

Marketing has been almost effortless. They only sell to the retail market and have not been involved in the restaurant trade.

“I have never had to do it because we never had any problem getting rid of our potatoes for the last 10 years. I don’t even get on the phone looking,” he said.