Kendra Mills

Marketing Director, PEI Potatoes

Charlottetown

What is your profession & title?
I work as the marketing director for the PEI Potato Board, which is the potato grower’s organization.

Were you born in PEI or are you an Islander by choice?
I consider myself to be both! I was born and raised on PEI but moved away for work experience. I always knew that I could come home to settle down, and made the choice to do that about 8 years ago, and am so happy I did!

What kind of steps did you take to become your profession?
I went to Mount Allison University and did a B.Comm in marketing. I worked at an ad agency in London, England for a year, before moving to Toronto to continue working in the same agency. Moosehead Breweries was my client, and they hired me out of the agency, and I lived in Saint John, NB and Toronto working there before moving back to PEI. I started working for the PEI Potato growers in marketing then, and have been doing that ever since!

How long have you been living in PEI?
I lived in PEI until I went to university. I came home for several summers until I moved home.

Where do you live in PEI?
I live in Charlottetown, currently but was raised on a potato farm just outside Summerside, PEI.

Describe what an average day looks like for you?
Working in agriculture is different every day. My commute to work is less than 10 minutes on most days. I could be travelling to a rural farm to visit a potato packer, working with agencies in planning out PEI Potatoes social media strategy, I could be preparing for a trip somewhere in North America to participate in a trade show or conference, or working on one of the many festivals we sponsor or working with other food products on PEI to help promote the beautiful food we have from this province!

What is your favourite thing about life in PEI?
My favorite thing about the Island is the contrast. Charlottetown is a thriving, vibrant city full of culture, food and music. But a 15 minute drive and beyond takes you to rural farming and fishing communities that have their own culture. For a small place, we have a lot of similarities, but also a lot of differences, too!

What is something people wouldn't know if they're not from the island?
With only 140,000 people, you sometimes feel like you know everyone. And often we do, or at least know of their family or someone in common!

What are you passionate about personally? What do you really enjoy? What can’t you stop talking about?
I am a total nerd when it comes to farming! I grew up on a 3rd generation family farm, growing potatoes. The farm was the centre of our family life. But now working in the industry, I see things from a whole different perspective. Farming is our #1 industry on PEI, and so important to our culture, rural life and economy. And you don’t just have to work directly on the farm to be involved in our industry. I feel extremely lucky to have the job I have.

If you had to choose one spot on the island to take someone who has never been here, where would it be?
My go-to is the Central North Shore…. New London, Stanley Bridge, French River, Park Corner and Darnley are my favorite spots on PEI. Its beauty never ceases to amaze me, it’s so “classic Island” and, in my opinion, some of the best beaches on PEI!

Any funny facts about yourself or factoids about the Island that you think people should know?

  • I can drive a tractor, but don’t get trusted to do so very often!
  • Anywhere on PEI, you can never get more than 20 mins away from water or the beach!
  • We have our own lingo:
  • When it comes to Island-based food, particularly seafood and new potatoes, we don’t have meals, we have “feeds”
  • “From away” is a real thing.
  • Everyone has to know your family – I am often introduced as “Brian’s daughter” and that satisfies most people.
  • Harvesting in PEI is referred to as “Digging”
  • Our soil is unique because of the high level of iron in it. It literally oxidizes or “rusts” and is great for growing potatoes! There is nothing like driving down a red dirt road.
  • Farming is changed and grown with technology the same as any other industry, which is neat to see. My Dad’s generation stored potatoes in their farmhouse basement, and now my brother plants potatoes via satellite and controls his high-tech warehouses with his iphone. But it is still very much family run…in fact, 97% of farms on PEI are family-owned and operated.
  • Our countryside is like a patchwork quilt – shades of green, yellow, reds, and various shades of flowering potatoes, stitched together by farmer’s hard work.
  • Harvest season is my favorite time of year on the farm. There is a particular scent in the air that every single farmer can identify – the beautiful smell of cool, crisp, fall morning air, getting the harvester fired up in the early morning before dawn, the smell of red earth being moved. It creates a sense that can’t be replicated and its wonderful.

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