Mark and Sally Bernard
Mark (Class of ’05 & ’06) and Sally (Class of ’06) Bernard
Young Alumni Achievement Award 2011
Growing up on the family potato farm in Freetown, P.E.I. and helping out when possible, it seems like a natural choice for Mark to have furthered his education at NSAC. Mark’s studies earned him a degree in Agricultural Business and certificates in Organic Agriculture Specialization and Agriculture Technology. It was while studying at NSAC that Mark met, who would eventually become his future business partner and wife, Sally Wilson.
Farm lifestyle was also in Sally’s blood. Raised on a beef and sheep farm in N.B., Sally attended Mount Allison University, before later switching gears and receiving her Plant Science Diploma at NSAC.
After graduating, the young P.E.I. couple jumped in as fourth-generation farmers and have been making a big impact ever since. Mark and Sally work the 500-plus-acre Bernard family farm, Barnyard Organics, which they have converted to 100 per cent certified organic. For their efforts, Mark and Sally were recipients of the 2010 Organic Farmers of the Year award from P.E.I. Certified Organic Producers Co-operative.
The organic certification was a gradual process, taking three years. Mark and Sally found themselves accessing what they studied at NSAC on a daily basis. One of the biggest challenges for this couple was to completely shift their way of thinking from how things were done before, to what works in the present.
Barnyard Organics is one of the largest organic farms on the Island. Not to mention, it is operated by one of the Island’s youngest farming couples. They focus on soybeans, field peas and grains, such as wheat, barley and oats. Sally’s livestock background has also contributed to the mixture as Barnyard Organics produces organic chicken and lamb, which is sold directly to consumers, as are their organic eggs, at the farm gate.
Mark and Sally continue to build and expand their farm, paying particular attention to their ecological footprint and the quality of their products.
On the livestock side of things, Mark and Sally take great pride in being able to produce all of the feed for their chickens and sheep, confident in the superiority of their grains and hay and knowing exactly where everything comes from.
The infrastructure at Barnyard Organics is also an asset to the organic industry in the Maritimes. With a soybean roaster, which is dedicated to roasting strictly organic and non-GMO beans, organic soybeans from around the region are roasted for organic livestock feed.
Between all of their accomplishments and hard work on the farm, Mark and Sally are also assets to their community. Mark has been closely involved with the P.E.I. Certified Organic Producers Co-op, as well as the Atlantic Certified Organic Co-op and he sits on the Environmental Advisory Council for P.E.I. Sally sits on the boards for Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network and the National Farmers Union. She is also the music director for the Sunday school program at Summerside Presbyterian Church.
Mark and Sally are proud to be building a farm for generations to come and their children, Lucy, Wilson and Thayne, are already showing a love of agriculture. Creating a future in sustainable farming, for their children, is perhaps their proudest accomplishment of all.
Mark and Sally are real leaders and ambassadors for agriculture in the Maritimes and they are making a big difference. It is most fitting that Mark and Sally Bernard be named the 2011 recipients of NSAC’s Young Alumni Achievement award.