Alberta Open Farm days is returning for its ninth annual run and is looking to encourage more people to come out and learn about local agriculture.
Though only the ninth year of operation in Alberta, similar events are held across Canada, particularly in the east of the country.
Marketing Coordinator Nicola Doherty explained the event is a perfect opportunity for folks to come out and get an in-depth experience of rural agriculture.
“What it is, is an opportunity for people that would like to visit a farm,” she said.
“So whether that’s because they’ve never visited a farm, because they’re interested in food production or local food, or if they have a generational experience… it’s a great opportunity for Albertans to get out and check local farms, and also how food is produced in the province.”
This year, of the 110 participating farms across the province in the event, four are within the Strathmore and Wheatland County area. These include Red Fox Fungi, Poplar Bluff Organics, Eh Farms, and 748 Kisling Farms.
According to Doherty, 2021 shows a drastic increase in participation both from farms, as well as projected visitor traffic over 2020. She said 77 farms participated last year, with foot traffic being approximately 10,000 people.
“We were the first event to happen last year, but within limited capacity, because farms— it’s their home so they choose whether they open their gates up or not,” she explained.
This year, the team is projecting to see a 30 per cent increase over 2020.
The biggest year for the event in Alberta, was back in 2019, which saw 150 farms participating, and over 40,000 visitors to farms across the province.
“We had been seeing incremental changes right up until 2019 before the pandemic, that it was growing every year, [and] in 2019 we saw gigantic growth from the year before, not just in terms of participation of farms, but then also increasing awareness of the program,” said Doherty.
Programs offered at each participating location will vary, as the content will be chosen by the farmers themselves.
As a requirement to participate, each farm will be offering a minimum of one free tour, so as to promote agricultural education in Alberta.
“That could be anything from a tour of a greenhouse, this could be a tour around with generous agriculture, whatever it is, because each farm is different, like lots of a prairie tours, beehive tours, like those kinds of things,” said Doherty.
The event will operate on August 14 and 15. Each farm will have the day(s) and times they have chosen to be open to visitors listed on the Alberta Open Farm Days website.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times