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Alberta Open Farm Days continues to grow

“We are very excited with how Alberta Open Farm Days 2023 went,” says Tim Carson, CEO, Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies. “While the number of visitors was down slightly from last year, on-farm sales during the weekend increased from $224,000 in 2022 to almost $299,000 this year. The money that was generated from on-farm sales demonstrates that not only did visitors have an improved perception of agriculture but were also willing to show their trust in Alberta agriculture by investing their money in it. Since its inception, Open Farm Days has generated over $1.4 million in on-farm sales.”

In addition to more on-farm sales than in previous years, there was an increase in the number of culinary experiences and the number of host farms; and approximately 35% of the 133 host farms were new. Carson points out several farms had to pull out due to flooding and wildfires in 2023, adding they were on track to surpass their goal of 150 host farms.

“This year we also expanded training, offering 10 training sessions from November to May. These sessions provided the farms with some beneficial early planning which in turn eliminated some of the last-minute struggles for permits, allowing the newer farms to be helped during the crunch time.”

In addition to host farms, 10 agricultural societies from Crossfield, Spruce Grove, Heritage, Coaldale, Grande Prairie, Smoky Lake, Stettler, Lac La Biche, Big Country and Rocky Mountain House participated in Open Farm Days.

“Agricultural societies are important contributors to their communities beyond Open Farm Days. Successfully participating in Open Farm Days ideally gives the societies the confidence they need to do more programs in the future that support local food and producers.”

Carson adds there was very positive feedback from host farms from this year’s event:

  • “The important factor was having people learn first hand about bison and having a First Nations representative to speak to the importance of the bison to their culture.” – Glengary Bison Ltd.
  • “Anytime a family can see where their food comes from is a good thing. Anytime a city family can see and experience rural Alberta is huge. People were thrilled to visit the country and ask us questions about things we take for granted.” – The Cherry Farm
  • “Visitors were genuinely interested and engaged with what was being shared. Many visitors had never heard of flower farming or alpaca raising in Alberta, so it was a new experience for many.” – Blooms on 7 Flower Farm
  • “Many people were exposed to animals and the rural way of life. They were able to interact with producers and find that they were educated, responsible, articulate and caring people with regard to the welfare of their animals and the environment.” – Big Country Agricultural Society

“Alberta Open Farm Days would not be possible without the incredible hosts who welcome visitors to their farms or the tremendous support of Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation and Travel Alberta,” says Carson. “Registration is already open for 2024. We are looking forward to another great event showcasing agriculture and food in Alberta. Mark August 17 and 18 on your calendar for the 12th annual Alberta Open Farm Days.”

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