Education is paramount during Alberta Open Farm Days
More than 100 farms will welcome visitors over two days
By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
More than 100 Alberta farms will open their gates to visitors on Aug. 19 and 20 as part of the fifth annual Alberta Open Farm Days.
The province-wide open house – or farm – allows consumers to engage with local producers, visit rural Alberta and connect the dots that make up farm to fork.
“Agriculture is such a huge part of what happens here in Alberta,” Tim Carson, CEO of the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies (AAAS), told Farms.com today. “We see a lot of misunderstanding about how agriculture works so it’s a real chance for producers to tell the story of agriculture in their own words (and a chance) for Albertans to connect with where their food comes from.”
Visitors will have the opportunity to meet a variety of local producers including hog, bison and dairy producers.
The farmers are also looking forward to helping visitors understand how and why they perform certain tasks.
“There’s been such a large disconnect about where food comes from. It doesn’t come from the supermarket,” Chris Fasoli, owner and operator of Bear and the Flower farm, a swine operation near Irricana, Alta., told Farms.com.
“(Farmers are) here to feed the world, be good stewards of the land and have good animal husbandry practices.”
Due to biosecurity measures, Fasoli’s farm isn’t participating in this year’s event.
But participating producers are excited to show visitors the differences between farms, depending on their crops or livestock.
“The nice thing about Open Farm Days is they can understand where some of their meat comes from,” Gary Sweetnam, a producer from Glengary Bison in Airdrie, Alta., told Farms.com. “When we take visitors out and show them the animals, we try to show them the animal cycle.
“What we do is different from a beef farmer. This is the best way to show people the differences between the two.”
In addition to the farm visits, a number of local chefs will be on hand to prepare food using the local ingredients.
“There will be 20 culinary events over the weekend,” Carson said. “They will not only show off the quality of food Alberta produces but also the quality of chefs we have in the province.”
Carson said Open Farm Days has also contributed to increased farm gate sales.
More than $300,000 has been spent during Open Farm Days over the first four years, Carson said, saying he expects the number to increase again this year.