Kendra Mills

Marketing Director, PEI Potatoes

Charlottetown

Were you born in PEI or are you an Islander by choice?
I was born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island and was raised on a PEI Potato farm. I lived away for about 10 years, and always knew I was going to come home to live my life.

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 currently live in a condo Charlottetown, PEI. I am a bona fide farm girl with an urban lifestyle! 

Describe what are an average day looks like for you?
I work for the PEI Potato growers, so every day is different. My commute to work is less than 10 mins on most days! I could be travelling to a rural farm for a visit with a potato packer, working with agencies in planning our PEI Potatoes social media strategy, I would be preparing for a trip somewhere in North America to participate in a trade show or conference, I could be preparing for one of the many local festivals/events we sponsor or working with other food products on PEI to help promote the beautiful food we have from this province!
On a personal level, I like to enjoy the best of what the city has to offer, even on a week day. I often run or walk the boardwalk in Victoria Park in the evening for exercise, I have an almost-weekly group Thursday happy hour group of girls, where we get together at a different spot in the city for drinks after work, I could be at home sitting on our building’s rooftop deck for a little relaxation after work. Or I could take the 15 min drive to Brackley Beach for a beach walk in the evening.

What is your favourite thing about life in PEI?
My favorite thing about PEI is the contrast. Charlottetown is a thriving vibrant city full of culture, food and music. There is so much to do! But a 15 minute drive takes you to rural farming and fishing communities that have their own culture. We often don’t think about it that hard, as it is so normal to us, but it is truly a unique way of life!

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! But I still get surprised meeting Islanders for the first time, and I love it!

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.
  • We have the best fish and chips this side of Britain, and there are so many places to get excellent “feeds” – Rick’s in St. Peter’s, Richard’s in Covehead, Gahan in Charlottetown.
  • 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.
  • My favorite potato dish is very simply new potatoes boiled with butter. There is literally nothing like it in the world. My favorite potato indulgence is twice-cooked duck fat French fries.

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