A floating agricultural destination, Canada’s Food Island has always been synonymous with the intermeshing of creative entrepreneurship and superlative agricultural and aquacultural production. One of the keys to this synergy is the ease of mobility around the Island. With only 225 km/140 miles from tip to tip of the province, it is possible to experience the rural beauty by touring the farms where the ingredients are being grown and then venture to an independent restaurant where the harvest is being served throughout the year.
A commitment to blueberries through
Terry Nabuurs is a dynamic thought leader in the tourism, culinary and hospitality sector, while additionally part of a multi-generational farming family. “Food has been a major theme in my life. I guess I’ve only realized how truly engrained it has been as I’ve gotten older. Our grandparents on both sides of the family were farmers.”
Some of Terry’s fondest childhood memories are of hand-raking blueberries on his parent’s farm. In 2014, Terry purchased his own blueberry farm, and shortly after, opened a food truck with the goal of selling his crop as a value-added product. This type of innovative value-added approach develops opportunities for regional growth and beyond. Nabuurs shares, “We started selling smoothies using my blueberries as well as the strawberries from my aunt and uncle at Nabuurs Gardens. We actively try to value-add and diversify by creating different fruit-based products for sale.”
Smoothies made with local berries ripened in the sunshine of the sea-salt kissed summer is one of the best ways to start any day-long meeting session or tour of the Island that is cradled by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Sustainability is delicious
Sustainability is essential to the future our global agricultural and hospitality industries. Nabuurs understands these realities through lived family history, and entrepreneurial endeavours. “I believe that sustainability is largely about making the conscious decision to reject an extractionist mentality. On the hospitality side of things, we are currently writing a Net-Zero business plan. We want to do everything we can to retrofit and electrify the businesses to be at the forefront in the transition to renewables.”
Terry Nabuurs, Red Seal chef and owner of The Wheelhouse restaurant in Georgetown, PEI.
At Terry’s Georgetown restaurant, The Wheelhouse, you can literally eat the fruit of his labours right off the menu. Terry describes his guests as a blend of locals and experience-seeking visitors. The menu is inspired by iconic PEI ingredients. The Wheelhouse focuses on fresh seafood like lobster and halibut, and the best that the land produces such as potatoes, dairy, beef, and superlative produce.
When it comes to showcasing island products, the most authentic methods are also the simplest. As Terry describes it, “we harvest some of the best shellfish in the world here on the Island. Sometimes you just need to melt some butter, hit it with some acid, and let it sing.” The only way to improve on that flavour is to be seated at the Wheelhouse patio breathing in that singular ocean air.
A new future is created when we make each
meeting an opportunity
Regular flights are available on Air Canada, Westjet, Flair, Porter and Swoop, with Charlottetown just two hours from Toronto.
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About the Author
Chef Ilona Daniel is the founder of Tribe Fresh Events and Consulting, a purpose-driven insights consultancy accelerated by modern approaches to the hospitality industry, immersive experiences, community and culture development, and projects spanning the globe. A Culinary Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Canada, she is also on the Board of Directors for the Tourism Association of PEI & is the Food and Drink Editor for Harrowsmith Magazine. You’ve probably seen Chef ILona on many lifestyle and TV shows like “Untamed Gourmet,” — the episode entitled, “PEI Lobster” which she hosted was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award.