Honey, bison and hops— Oh my!
Another year of Open Farm Days means another year of Albertans gaining a better understanding of where the things they consume come from.
Over 100 hundred farms, ranches and agri-tourism operators opened their gates over the Aug. 14 and 15 weekend to invite visitors to learn about production, share in local stories, and purchase locally made products.
Water Valley Hops grower Katlyn Young said they were happy to participate in Open Farm Days again for the second year, after meeting lots of new people in 2020 that are interested in beer and how its made.
“It seems like every time that we do this, like almost every tour, we’re meeting someone who’s giving us information and we’re learning something about the industry too,” Young said.
“Hops in Alberta is a fairly new thing. So, the varieties that we have come from other places, and many of them are from England. It’s cool to be able to talk to someone from England who knows a lot about the history behind them.”
This year they closed their gates for the second day of Open Farm Days so that they too could join in on the fun and check out some of the other farms.
Bernard Trevor and his partner came all the way out from the Lac la Biche area to check out the hop yard in Water Valley, as part of their brewery-focused tour.
Despite the day being a little smoky from nearby wildfires, Trevor said the highlight was simply being able to drive around the countryside to check out the scenery.
“Just even meeting the farmers – I’m just learning what they’re doing and how they’re investing in farming. It’s really neat,” he said.
One of the beverage samples on the Water Valley Hops tour was Fallentimber’s infamous Meadjito, a brew of honey mead with a twist of mint and lime, which Water Valley Hops supplies the mint for in the growing season.
Fallentimber Meadery also participated in Open Farm Days and is just a short 20-minute drive up the road from the hop yard, also based outside of Water Valley.
Meanwhile, visitors at the Long Grass Studio and Workshop in Springbank were given a glimpse into how the business owners create puppets, masks and props for theatre companies, festivals and workshops, as well as hand-glazed stoneware and dishware.
Glengary Bison, west of Airdrie, was taking groups of 20 people at a time out to their pasture in a trailer towed behind a tractor. The tours allowed time for questions and answers about the native species, while also inviting two Indigenous women from the Blood Tribe to teach about their sacred covenant with the animal.
“Even though we don’t get the chance to use them like we did back in the day, we still consider them the most sacred," Ussangahqe Always Singing Woman said. "That relationship is still there with them.”
“I think that, to me, is the most important – that we can continue telling these stories, sharing their importance in a modern text, and now we can just relate those values in a different way.”