Producers in Rocky View County have the opportunity to share their love of agriculture with the public at Alberta’s sixth annual Open Farm Days Aug. 18 and 19 – as long as they register before the May 31 deadline.
“It’s a great bit of agri-tourism, if you will, and it’s been growing every year,” said Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. “Last year, we had a very successful year – the best we’ve had, so far. And we’re looking forward to 2018 being even better yet.”
According to Carlier, more than 100 producers registered for last year’s event, providing a wide variety of experiences for the 20,000-plus participants who attended.
For producers, Carlier said, the chance to showcase their business on such a large scale can be difficult to find. Open Farm Days gives them an easy way to engage in networking, sell product and teach an interested public about their individual operations.
“The people I’ve visited over the years have said it’s a lot of fun – the whole family gets involved and sometimes, even the neighbours,” he said. “Some operations have even started teaming up with local restaurants to provide unique culinary events featuring some of their home-grown ingredients.”
For everyone else, the weekend is a rare opportunity to see what life is like on the farm – what goes into the production of vegetables, fruits, grains, meat and more, Carlier said. He added as more and more urban-dwellers develop an interest in eating fresh, organic ingredients, events like Open Farm Days become a bigger draw.
“Word is getting out that this is something fun to do, and a bit different from your typical summer weekend,” he said. “Everybody has a bit of a foodie in them, and we all want the freshest, best ingredients available – that’s why farmers’ markets are so popular.”
The weekend also helps build a sense of regional pride, Carlier said. Often, people aren’t even aware of how much is produced within Alberta’s agriculture industry – and Open Farm Days gives them a better understanding of all the province has to offer.
“We have a lot going on here in Alberta, and this lets people get out and enjoy the agriculture we have and the good products we grow,” he said. “I encourage everyone to keep Aug. 18 and 19 in mind as they plan their summers, to take advantage of this unique event and have a good, fun weekend.”
For more information about the event or to register as a participating producer, visit albertafarmdays.com