Up close and personal: Agritourism gives chance to meet farm life on P.E.I.

Prince Edward Island is known for its pastoral landscapes, and that makes the growing field of Agritourism a natural fit.

Just 15 minutes outside of Charlottetown in Hampshire, PEI, there are rolling hills, farmer’s fields and livestock.

In the middle is Island Hill Farm, one of the biggest Agritourism operations on PEI, giving Islanders and tourists a taste of farm life, and a chance to meet some adorable animals.

The kids here are fed three times a day and anyone can sign up to hold a bottle.

The farm sees between 50 and 500 visitors each day, depending on the day and time of year.

The key difference between the farm and a petting zoo, or a zoo, is that these are working farm animals, they’re not just here for people to come and pet.

It’s a commercial dairy and the milk here is sold for use in cheeses and cosmetics.

The owner goes by Farmer Flory. She says the biggest goal when she opened her farm to the public was to teach people about agriculture and where their food comes from.

“I felt when I opened it to the kids it was a great way for them to learn,” said Flory Sanderson owner of Island Hill Farm. “Where everything is, where it comes from, first and then they can start asking the questions.”

Goats aren’t the only animals here, there are also pigs, horses, chickens, and alpacas.

They also raise rabbit and are looking to build a partnership with the humane society to foster many more.

“We’re completely overrun with rabbits this summer,” said Sophie Burns, Humane Society Adoption Intake Coordinator. “We already have some in foster care and our shelter facility is completely full up, so we’re just looking for new ways to introduce people to rabbits as pets and kinda get them more exposure, the exposure they deserve”

The farm became an agritourism destination in 2013, and some visitors have been coming from as far away as Ottawa every year since.

“When I’m kind of feeling sad I can come around and these little animals will put a smile on my face, and it’s always just nice to, so I wanna come back every year, obviously,” Victoria Robert, return visitor. “I want that feeling of calm and happiness”

Sanderson says Island Hill Farm is about bringing people and animals together, and that’s something many of the visitors from large cities have never had the chance to do.

“My goats wanna come and just love you, so you get up close and personal,” said Sanderson. “They’re really excited that they could touch and learn some fun facts about them.”

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