Red Fields Are Cultivated And Grain Land Is Sown

“Lovely, so lovely this day was. And at Alderlea, wholly pleasant, its paths. Busy, naturally. But as James said at supper, “when the machines work well, and the weather keeps, what more can we ask of the seedtime?” All our red fields have been cultivated, and now much of the grain-land is seeded. A few more days if fine should see the cropping here come to an end.

What has it given them, we wonder of these farmers of ours? Only the satisfaction of seeing their plans worked out on the stirred fields, good as these are? The seeds tucked tidily away in the best seedbeds they could make? Just the sowings and plantings — the be-all and end-all in a way, of our livelihood? Or did they also, as they tended faithfully to the affairs of their calling, hear the delightful bird-tunes threading in, bright and cherry in the mornings? And toward dusk the Evensong, in a manner quite as reverent as that participated in by folks in church pews. 

High and wide is this cathedral’s arched dome. And mellow the light which filters through the stained glass windows over the treetops to the west — Have they remembered as the seeds fell and were covered, tales of old land? Stories of wheat and tares of flour and the grinding of ovens and bread? For the words are old, old as the first seedtime — and very lovely too.

And been happy? And confident that no matter the world’s joys and tribulations, its triumphs and failures, its hopes and distrusts, that seedtimes and harvest will be”

                                                                                                 – Ellen’s diary, June 15th, 1962


The farmer’s need

“Canada needs the greatest possible cooperation between the livestock and poultry producers within all parts of Canada toward improving production methods, improving production methods, lowering production costs, improving selling methods and improving distribution methods.

We need the greatest cooperation between the producers of animal and poultry products with the grain growers and manufacturers of mill feeds toward financing and holding of feed stores for use in Canada.

There is a need for the study of means by which increased consumption of milk, cheese, lamb, beef etc. especially of Canadian origin might be affected within Canada.

There is a need for the development of a much broader statistical study which would show trends in production markets and costs, not only in Canada but in other countries as well, which would be a guide to economic increases in Canada’s production. The newly created Branch of Economics in the Federal Department of Agriculture should form a splendid nucleus for this work.

Whether increased production in Canada comes now or later, livestock farmers must be prepared for the same. There never was a better time to liquidate all cull livestock than at the present favourable prices.

This in itself raises the average standard and production capabilities of our livestock to a degree which not only lowers production costs but places us in a better position to face whatever market conditions we may have to meet.”

– Newsy notes, June 27th 1930


Community Pasture Program

Recently at the GeoREACH Lab, we have taken an interest in the Community Pasture Program in Atlantic Canada. Its prairie province counterpart is undoubtedly better known for its role in Western Canada’s agricultural recovery after the Great Depression. Still, the initiative was brought to this side of the country as well. In 1962, an Island farmer named Ken MacLean, along with several other community members, founded the Lot 16 Community Pasture. With help from ARDA, and later the LDC, community pastures expanded on PEI beyond Lot 16, and by 1979 the program had over seven thousand acres of land across all three counties.

The program was essential for the implementation of proper pasture management practices on Prince Edward Island. It also provided Island farmers with the chance to pasture their animals for a low price (often less than a dollar per day) and use their lands for hay and silage instead. For much of the 20th century, the main goal of farmers on the Island was to come up with enough fodder to feed the rapidly growing herds. The community pastures helped alleviate some of this demand, which often exceeded what individual farms could meet on their own land and dollar alone.

Using energy analysis tools, we will be exploring the various roles that community pastures have played in the local grazing communities for the past sixty years. Stay tuned for updates!


“Community Pasture.” 1976. In Pages from the Past, edited by Violet MacGregor, Eileen Manderson, Jennie Betton and Etta Hutchinson, 51-52: Lot 16 Women’s Institute.

Prince Edward Island Land Development Corporation: Activities and Impact 1970-1977. 1979. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.

Rogers, David. 1963. Grasslands, Pastures, Silage and Hay: A Major Resource of Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown: UPEI.