The Port Hawkesbury Reporter: Holiday welcome for newcomers

By December 18, 2016The Holidays

The Walkins family, including parents Brett and Kerry and kids Halle and Nolan recently came to Whycocomagh as a result of the worker recruitment program at The Farmer’s Daughter.

WHYCOCOMAGH: Some of the newest residents of Inverness County introduced themselves to locals at The Farmer’s Daughter just before the holidays.

“Everyone’s fitting in well,” said Sandee MacLean, who runs the general store and bakery in Whycocomagh with her sister, Heather Coulombe.

Advocate-Media-Holidays-03“When you do interviews, you hope that people are going to be what you imagine. We were very pleased that everyone was exactly how they seemed. They’re a great fit for Farmer’s Daughter and Whycocomagh.”

MacLean and Coulombe are responsible for one of the most innovative worker recruitment initiatives in recent history, as the women decided to offer two acres of free land to prospective workers. The Farmer’s Daughter had a great staff, the sisters said, but more year-round employees were required.

In late August, the sisters took their message to Facebook. Anyone looking to relocate to Whycocomagh to work at Farmer’s Daughter would be given two acres of land, so long as the worker stayed on staff for five years and were willing to pay for the transfer of deed.

The applications started rolling in.

“We thought we’d get about 100 people to apply, in our best case scenario. Now, we’re up to about 100,000,” Coulombe said. “They’re from all over the world, even countries I never heard of.”

Coulombe said she and the rest of the staff are happy with the workers who were picked from that massive collection of names.

“Everyone seems to be working out well,” she said.

So far, three families have moved to Whycocomagh as a result of The Farmer’s Daughter. Micah and Trish Tait have relocated, and the same can be said of the Walkins family that includes Brett and Kerry with kids Halle and Nolan. Sonja Andersen and her daughter Ava have also set up shop in Whycocomagh.

On December 3, a meet-and-greet was held for the new families.

“It’s been busy for us since we got here, but so far everyone has been great,” said Trish. “The people have been very welcoming.”

Micah said he and Trish came from Vancouver, where they had lived for two years. Before that, they were living in Saint John, New Brunswick, the place where Micah grew up. Trish is originally from Montreal.

“We still like the city, but not on a full time basis,” Trish said. “We were looking to move out of Vancouver for awhile, and this checked all the boxes.”

Given their anxiousness to leave Vancouver behind, friends of theirs called them to ask if they had applied —even before they mentioned they had heard about the offer.

“An end-goal of ours was to get a farm and grow organic vegetables,” Micah said. “This was a short cut for us. Now, we have land and a job. It’s great.”

The Walkins family also comes to the area from B.C., though Brett is originally from Massachusetts and Kerry is from Ontario. They had moved to the west coast four years ago due to Brett’s work.

“I was working as a project manager in construction and last January, they let me go,” Brett said. “We sold the house and started traveling all through the united States and then all the way to Prince Edward Island.”

Kerry explained that they were looking at settling down in PEI, but the house they were looking at was taken off the market.

“We thought it was time to figure out Plan B, and that night I saw the posting on CBC about The Farmer’s Daughter. I showed it to Brett and my mom, and my mom said your grandfather was born in Glace Bay. ‘The next morning, Brett said we should try.’

The Walkins sent their application on Labour Day Monday, heard back the next morrning, were Skype interviewed that night, and were accepting a job offer Wednesday.

“The free land caught our eye, but what really spoke to us was the opportunity to join the community,” Brett said.

“We haven’t encountered one negative person, other than our realtor in PEI.”

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