2022 marks the tenth annual event in Alberta
By Diego Flammini
One of Alberta’s popular ag events will reach a milestone this weekend.
Alberta Open Farm Days will celebrate its 10th anniversary as more than 100 farms prepare to welcome visitors Aug. 13 and 14.
During the first year in 2012, 46 farms participated in a one-day event.
For many farmers, like Jacqueline Hamoen, who raises bison on Birch Creek Farms in Vega, Alta., this year is her first participating in Open Farm Days.
The opportunity to educate visitors about agriculture is too good to pass up, Hamoen said.
“So many people get meat from the stores, but don’t understand how it got there,” she told Farms.com. “My husband and I want to be able to show people how we care for our animals and the effort we put into producing food for our consumers.”
Visitors to Birch Creek Farms will have the opportunity to see the farm’s 80 bison in the field, tour the farm’s store front and processing area, and taste bison products. Younger children will receive bookmarks made from bison hide.
Hamoen hopes Open Farm Days can lead to agriculture being taught in classrooms.
Past experiences communicating with schools to do agriculture presentations didn’t allow for her to tell the true story of agriculture.
“I was flat out told all the kids have to know is that food comes from stores and don’t need to know anything else,” she said. “To me, that’s off because every person should know where their food comes from, and that starts at the farm.”
Another farm participating in Open Farm Days for the first time in 2022 is Pierogerie Farm in Sherwood Park, Alta.
The farm’s owners, Agnes Kulinski and her husband Wade Schneider, want to showcase how the crops they grow on the farm become the pierogies consumers will eat later that day.
“We grow potatoes, onions and cabbage that we use for pierogies, and we also grow tomatoes that we turn into tomato paste for cabbage rolls,” Kulinski told Farms.com. “We’ll also show how we harvest the crops and how they end up on your plate.”
Kulinski also wants to educate visitors about their production methods.
Pierogerie Farm is a certified organic farm where the farmers use regenerative ag practices.
“Because we’re organic that means there’s strict practices we need to follow,” Kulinski said. “We don’t use chemicals; we make our own compost that we use to improve soil health and we do very little tillage.”
In addition, Kulinski wants visitors to understand that wanting to start a farm is an achievable goal for anyone.
Kulinski has a science background and worked with BioAlberta and at the University of Alberta.
Her husband, Wade, had a public sector job. The two started their farm about five years ago.
“We’re not here to say it’s not difficult, but what we are saying is that people who want to, can become farmers if they put the work in,” she said.
Kulinski and Hamoen’s farms are two examples of first-time participants in Open Farm Days.
But there are many farms with multiple events under their belts.
In fact, five farms – Barr Estate Winery, Fallentimber Meadery, Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm, Rocky Meadows Country Get-Away, and The Farm with the Good Food, have been involved with Open Farm Days since its inception in Alberta in 2012.