Marc & Krista Schurman
There is nothing better than a fresh ripe grape tomatoes right off the vine!
Marc and Krista Schurman live on their third-generation farm in Kensington, PEI, Schurman Family Farms and Atlantic Grown Organics, with their children Benjamin, Quiton, and Samantha. In 2001 the first greenhouses were built, in the early 2000’s the farm transitioned out of the livestock business and from 2015 until now the greenhouse business has grown significantly to 4 acres under cover. The operation produces various varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and many greens for the local and wholesale markets and with the addition of lights in 2014 has been harvesting all year ever since. The farm depends on workers from Mexico for the greenhouse operations so as a job requirement Marc speaks as much Spanish as English in the run of a normal day.
Owner Schurman Family Farms/ Atlantic Grown Organics
Our business is Atlantic Grown Organics. We grow organic greenhouse vegetables all year round. Some of our biggest crops are grape tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, vine ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and lots of other small line crops like mini cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, kale, basil and herbs. We market ourselves through grocery stores across the region and through farmers’ markets on the island.
We’re a third-generation farm on this property. We built our first greenhouses in 2001 and went organic in 2005.
In renewable energy, I'm the second generation on this farm doing that. We started burning straw back in the early 80s and moved to wood chips for our livestock operation in the early to mid-90s. Then, when we built the greenhouses, there was a higher demand for heat for energy so we continued expanding on that. A number of years ago as we expanded our greenhouse, we needed more capacity and wanted to get a boiler set up that was much more efficient so we were able to source some boilers out of Austria that was locally serviced. These were higher than most of the standards of what we have previously seen and using those really brought our operation to a new level of sustainability.
They should be in any local Sobeys and Superstore as well as any Charlottetown and Summerside Farmers Markets and lots of small shops that may be able to source through various wholesalers we deal with.
People are always amazed when they come and look and realize how it all works and the work that goes into it. It’s one thing to see the tomatoes on the shelf, but another thing to see the effort that goes into growing that food in January on PEI.
Our production is still very dependent on light. We do light artificially with electric lights through the winter, but they’re still nothing compared to the summer sun. It’s much more than any lights could ever do. So our production does fluctuate based on light levels and we are able to give enough extra light just to pull the plants through the winter. Now this time of year when the sun is getting stronger, our production is going up every week.
Whether it’s produce waste or leaves that come off the plants, they’re all composted and then we can reuse some of that compost back in the greenhouse. We also use biological controls so we bring in good bugs to eat the bad bugs. We are certified organic, so there are many other factors that go into that: including minimizing waste, not using synthetic pesticides, using natural fertilizers, etc.
Today, we have 14 foreign workers, a couple of locals and my wife and I. That number will expand in the summer by 6-8 more employees bringing us to almost 20 (April - Sept).Back to Faces of PEI