Sept. 18 is the first ever Farms Open event
By Diego Flammini
Farmers in Ontario’s Renfrew County are opening their gates to visitors this weekend for the first ever Farms Open event.
Nine farms are participating in the Sept. 18 event, organized by the Ottawa Valley Food Co-op, County of Renfrew Economic Development, the National Farmers Union and the Renfrew County of Agriculture.
From 10:00am to 4:00pm on Sunday, the public can visit host farms free of charge and engage with local food producers, interact with farm animals, learn about agriculture and taste local food.
Some of the host farms see Farms Open as an opportunity to have meaningful discussions with members of the public.
For Marshall Buchanan, owner and operator of Ottawa Valley Farm to Fork, transparency played a factor into why he’s participating as a host farmer.
“I want to impress upon people how complex the food system is and how much more respect it needs in our lives,” he told Farms.com. “Our farm is a demonstration of one style of agriculture.”
Buchanan and his partner Kathleen Lindhorst practice regenerative agriculture on their farm, which they purchased 21 years ago as a native tree nursery.
Today they grow vegetables, raise chickens, goats and Scottish Highland cattle. And use the cattle and chickens to fertilize the vegetable gardens.
Buchanan wants visitors to understand farming is different today than it was in the past and it will be different in the future than it is today.
“We hear a lot about the need for more technology and that everything is in good hands and the system is providing affordable food in the right supplies,” he said. “I would agree with that, but it’s not the whole story. And we need to be able to have discussions about ag topics that aren’t being talked about.
“Part of our industry looks at efficiencies based on dollar amounts but doesn’t look at the side effects of those efficiencies. That’s what we need to be talking about.”
Visitors to Buchanan’s farm will have opportunities to meet animals and taste sausage rolls and pierogies made with ingredients grown on the farm. And they’ll get to tour an 1860s log barn that’s been restored into a hall available for event rentals.
“Some of the farms around here have very old infrastructure that you’re trying to restore to be useful in a modern economy,” Buchanan said. “Part of that modern economy includes agri-tourism and having farm to table dinners in a restored log barn. The more people we can get to visit rural Ontario, the more chances we have to tell agriculture’s story.”