Registration is open for Alberta Open Farm Days
By Diego Flammini
The registration window is open for Alberta farmers interested in opening their doors to the public.
Preparations are underway for the 2020 edition of Open Farm Days across the province. The two-day event on Aug. 15 and 16 sees producers from different sectors welcome visitors to their farms to learn about food production.
Since the event started in 2013, 634 farms have welcomed a total of nearly 125,000 Albertans. Those visits have resulted in about $900,000 for the rural economy through on-farm sales.
Past participants found Open Farm Days a worthwhile event to be a part of.
Farm visitors are becoming more eager to learn about food production, said Richard Ozero, who runs Good Morning Honey with his wife Amber near Stony Plain, Alta.
This year will be the third that the honey producers have participated in Open Farm Days.
“You really start to notice the desire for people to understand what goes into their food. We have a lot of existing customers who asked us if they could come see what we do and learn about where their food comes from,” he told Farms.com. “We thought this was a great way to focus all of our energy on one weekend, throw open the doors, be super transparent and show all of the effort that goes into producing high-quality Canadian food.”
Visitors have continually come away fascinated with how much work goes into producing one jar of honey.
“People have a romantic notion of beekeeping but there’s a lot of back-breaking work that goes into it,” Ozero said. “So, it’s nice for people to see the hard work that beekeepers, or other farmers, put into the product that consumers ultimately buy.”
Ozero has some tips for farmers who may participate in Open Farm Days for the first time in 2020.
A key tool to help encourage visitors to stop by the farm is social media, he said.
“The more effort you put in, the bigger the payoff,” he said. “Don’t just sign up, cross your fingers and hope everyone shows up at the farm. You’ve got to let (the public) know what’s going on and engage with people on as many platforms as you can.”
Another tip is to ensure there are activities available once visitors arrive on the farm.
Open Farm Days can be busy, so making sure guests have something to do is important. So is having lots of help if possible, he said.
“Think outside the box and think about making the experience fun and memorable,” Ozero said. “We were fortunate to have lots of people helping us out. You don’t want people showing up and waiting in line for hours and getting bored. They’re investing their time to come to your farm so you want to give them a good experience.”