One of Keisha Rose Topic’s ag inspirations was nearby all along, but it took some time for her to realize it
By Diego Flammini
It took an unfortunate event for Keisha Rose Topic, a sixth-generation potato and grain farmer in North Lake, P.E.I., and president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, to understand one of her ag heroes was always nearby.
Her grandmother, Elora Mae Rose, passed away in July 2022 at the age of 83. And it was while preparing and delivering the eulogy for her grandmother that Topic realized she was one of her ag inspirations.
“She was always presented to me as ‘the farmer’s wife,” Rose Topic said. “But she was just as much part of the farm as anyone else. She did all the farm’s books, kept the household running, would help grade potatoes and help in the field as she was needed. She’s someone I now realize was a big role model for me.”
Another person in the ag sector Rose Topic looks up to leads a national organization.
About two hours away from her in North Lake is Albany, P.E.I., where Mary Robinson, the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), raises soybeans, barley and hay.
Topic sees Robinson as one of her ag heroes for her work in the ag community.
“I think many people from P.E.I. look up to her and look to her for wisdom” she said. “She’s an excellent representative for P.E.I. and women in agriculture.”
Being a sixth-generation farmer, Rose Topic spent a lot of time on the farm as a child.
It was during her childhood she developed a love for working on the farm.
“I’d tell my 12-year-old self that you can have fun on the farm for the rest of your life,” she said. When I was a kid I thought it was fun to sweep the floor or go for a tractor ride. I think the reason I still enjoy farming is because there’s always a new challenge or always things to tackle.”
But it wasn’t a surety that Rose Topic was going to work in agriculture.
In her community, it’s typical for students who do well in high school to study science in university and steer towards a career in healthcare.
“I wish I was presented with the notion that you can still study science and then work in agriculture because a science background is needed for this industry,” she said. “If I’d seen those opportunities in high school, I would’ve pursued that more as a career.”
Her message to young people considering working in ag?
Open every door you can.
“It’s a wonderful industry to get into and there’s lots of different avenues you can try out,” she said. “And if you’re willing to learn and don’t mind wearing many hats, you can have a very successful career in agriculture.”
Rose Topic earned a business degree while in university and worked for the department of agriculture with crop insurance for two years after completing her studies.
She helped on the farm during planting season, and after two years of that, decided to come back to the farm full time.