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New Leaf Essential aiming to help farmers by keeping crop production local

Wayne MacLean with a tray of green peas collected from a local farm. MacLean is the general manager of New Leaf Essentials East. Recently the company began working on assembling a cleaning line and building several silos to house peas, beans, and seed.
Wayne MacLean with a tray of green peas collected from a local farm. MacLean is the general manager of New Leaf Essentials East. Recently the company began working on assembling a cleaning line and building several silos to house peas, beans, and seed.

A Slemon Park company sees an “alternative” way of doing business with Island farmers.

New Leaf Essentials East, a subsidiary of WA Grain Holdings, recently began constructing several silos at their local facility to house green and yellow peas, pinto, black and cranberry beans, and seed to sell to farmers.

“We want to be able to open doors to alternative crops that may not have been available before and grow the market for farmers.”

The company is continuing development, setting up a cleaning line and other sorting equipment to deal with their intake of peas and beans. Their target market is pet foods, aquaculture food and export.

In March, New Leaf acquired 3,000 acres of land under contract with about 50 Island farmers. Now they have about 5,800 acres with 50 to 60 farmers.

“There has been significant growth over recent months. We’d like to get 12,000 acres by 2018. But with the land we’d also like to see more farmers involved,” said Wayne MacLean, the general manager of New Leaf Essentials East.

“It’s always been about the farmers. We’re trying to keep it as local as possible. We want to provide them new resources to crops, work with them to determine optimal crop rotation and see a strong return for them.”

New Leaf Essentials East uses local seed produced by farmers, process the products locally with the majority of the crop coming from P.E.I.

At their site in Slemon Park, company has built a 95-foot-high blue leg that shoots product that arrives from a farm into a distributor, which sorts it into eight different silos.

“So a truck will come up through this entrance drive onto the scale and get weighed. Then they’ll dump the product into a container under the scale. Then using an auger the peas get sent up the leg and then dispersed into eight different silos.”

After they go into the “dirty bins,” as they’re called, the product will be sent through another leg into a compartment in the main building which will send it through the cleaning system.

Parker Leclair, works on a silo that will house seed at the New Leaf Essentials East plant in Slemon Park.

“They are sent to the surge bin sending it to the cleaner which will pick out debris, husks, anything we don’t want in there. Then they go to the debearder, which basically shaves them, then to the clipper cleaner. With all of these steps the product is sent through z-legs which move slowly and won’t damage the crop.

“The product then goes to the gravity table which shakes everything helping sort through the best peas and then our last resort is the colour sorter. So say if there was anything that made it through all the steps that wasn’t a green pea, the colour sorter would identify it and send it away.”

After cleaning and sorting, the product can be sent to the clean bins for bulk sale, for 20 to 25 kilograms bags for export and commercial sale or for one tonne bags of product.

The company is also in the process of building six silos to store the seeds from the plants, as well as installing de-huller for barley and a spiral that will clean mustard seed.

“A lot of farmers use mustard seed as a fumigant to fight wire worm, but we wanted to bring the equipment in to clean it in order to export it because it needs to be 99.9 per cent clean to be shipped.”

They will also install a roller mill that will grind products that will allow for custom blends.

WA Grain Holdings was founded by Islander Chris Chivilo.

millicent.mckay@journalpioneer.com

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