A new small business venture called Island Bird Tweets has been started by Sarah McAlduff and Matthew Handrahan.
Matthew is a truck driver in the oil patch in Alberta and works 21 days on and 21 days off. When he is home, he enjoys focusing on his new endeavour: growing sunflowers and creating PEI home-grown bird seed.
“I love this time away from the oil fields,” says Matthew, who has a love of the land, just like his father, who was a farmer. “It is completely different, and I find it relaxing and a great way to unwind. I recently inherited my father’s blueberry farm, so I will have more to focus on this year.”
The couple grows sunflowers to produce premium quality Island-grown bird seed. “I am very passionate about the product, and in the future, we may add bee hives to the operation,” says Sarah. “What more perfect combination could we ask for: blueberries, sunflowers, and bees.
“Last year, we simply prepared the fields, threw in the seed, and watched them grow! The outcome was amazing; fields of bright yellow sunflowers bursting with seed. We were very pleased with our first crop, as it was a very dry year.”
The fields attracted much more than local bees. “Car loads of people stopped to view the beauty,” says Sarah. “The crop provided a good yield and required little maintenance. We planted and harvested 3.5 acres last year and we will expand as demand grows for the product.”
To prepare the seed for sale, they remove the seed from the sunflowers, dry and clean the seeds, combine the seed with local rolled corn and wheat, and bag the product for retail sales.
“Both retail and wholesale sales are going very well,” says Matthew. The bird seed is available at the following PEI locations:
- Tignish Home Hardware Store, Tignish
- Profits Race Trac Gas & Coffee Stop, Profit’s Corner
- F J Shea & Son, St. Louis
- Acadian Machine Works, Tignish
- Illsley’s Feed and Farm Supply Ltd., Summerside
“We have received excellent feedback thus far,” says Sarah. “Customers love the bright yellow resealable bags, which hold 10 pounds and are light weight for easy handling. We are open to offer larger sizes if the demand is there.
“In the future, we plan to expand and market the product Island wide, purchase equipment for larger volume harvesting, and have product in more retail stores.”
For more information, call 902-315-2180 or 902-214-0351, or email [email protected] or search Facebook.