Farms, ranches and gardens across the province opened their gates to the public over the weekend, allowing visitors the chance to explore and learn more about where their food comes from.
Alberta Open Farm Days was the two-day province-wide event that began Aug. 23 with culinary events that ranged from professionally cooked meals to sample tastings.
Aug. 24 then saw farms take on an open house format, allowing visitors a unique insight into the way they operate.
“It offers the opportunity for families to participate in the discussion about where their food comes from,” said Jim Hill, whose Hidden Valley Garden u-pick farm located just outside Sylvan Lake acted as one of the weekend’s host farms.
Hidden Valley was extremely well attended both Saturday and Sunday, he added. As that’s usually the case for the garden around this time of year, however, he wasn’t able to gauge exactly how many people were there because of Open Farm Days.
“I haven’t got a real good sense of the amount of activity brought on by (Open Farm Days), but it was a good weekend,” he said.
Jim Hill, who co-owns Hidden Valley with wife Lesley, said he became aware of Open Farm Days through his involvement with the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association.
After some thought, he and Lesley decided to give it a try. And although its impacts aren’t yet clear, it’s a program he feels could be beneficial to both producer and consumer, once it begins to establish itself.
“Those kinds of programs take quite a few years to get in place to have a real impact,” he said. “And that’s just true of all those programs.”
Nonetheless, he’s happy to see his own operation, and others like it, popular among both locals and visitors to town.
“We get an amazing number of people that come out for a day trip from Calgary and work in the garden for three or four hours,” he said. “It’s amazing the number of people that are doing that.”