Spinning some yarns: Small farm gets help to create woolen mill

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Spinning some yarns: Small farm gets help to create woolen mill

A farm in eastern P.E.I. is developing a woolen mill with funding from the federal and provincial governments.

Harmony Meadow Farm in Belfast is a mixed farm with a focus on humanely-raised lamb and wool products. ACOA and the P.E.I. government are contributing more than $200,000 for sisters Kim Doherty-Smith and Jennifer Taran to establish a mini-mill on the property.

The contributions include:

- $181,000 loan from ACOA

- $30,000 grant from provincial Department of Agriculture

- $10,000 grant from Innovation PEI

"The funding was instrumental in allowing us to move forward when we did and I can't overemphasize how important it is," said Kim Doherty-Smith, one of the owners of Harmony Meadow Farms.

"It was important to us because we were able to start this business with that funding, but it's also important to the community because we have virtually purchased everything in the mill. The builder is local, the mill equipment itself is local. So, we have put that money back into our local economy within a 20-kilometre radius of our farm." 

The cottage-sized processing facility will run small batches of yarn in different weights and colours, using wool from Harmony Meadow Farm and other farms.

"You're always trying to find ways to diversify your offering and to use every resource that you have on the farm," said Doherty-Smith.

"Our goal is to produce a yarn that is 100 per cent island fibre, so that means we are working with the wool that we have. There are not many wool sheep grown on the island, so we're working on formulas with the mixes of the wool, the lambs wool to produce a high quality product that is locally based on Prince Edward Island that helps the other farmers, as well."

The yarn will be sold under the brand Fleece & Harmony through local craft shops and over the Internet catering to export markets.

"When people come to the Island, it gives people that are not from here a certain feeling of serenity and peace, an understanding of that connection to the land and place," Doherty-Smith said.

"We recognize that people want to take a bit of that home with them, so we think we will have a good business with people visiting the Island, and we also have just launched an e-commerce site, so we expect that we will sell a lot of our yarn as an export actually to other parts of the country and the world."

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