Manyluk’s The Farm With The Good Food participated in Open Farm Days

Alberta residents became much better acquainted with farmers over the weekend, during the province’s first Open Farm Days Aug. 25 and 25.

Alberta residents became much better acquainted with farmers over the weekend, during the province’s first Open Farm Days Aug. 24 and 25.

On Saturday, “farm-to-table” culinary activities were held at farms throughout the province. Then over 40 farms welcomed curious visitors to explore their operations on Sunday.

The event was held to bring farmers together with the people who enjoy their products, and farmer Susan Manyluk is in favour of it being held again next year.

“This whole concept is, I think, excellent,” said Manyluk, who owns The Farm With The Good Food on Range Road 282 east of Sylvan Lake. “They haven’t had it before, but this is what we need to do.”

Manyluk’s farm was one of the host farms people were able to visit and explore free of charge. She admitted she didn’t receive as many visitors as she would have liked, but felt the lack of community participation was justified, given that the program is still in its first year.

“It’s the first Open Farm Days, and I think it has potential,” she said, adding that it will likely be “a couple of years” before the program fully takes off.

“I suspect that’s what it’s going to take before people really get it.”

Manyluk first learned of Alberta Open Farm Days during a tourism conference in Camrose, and was eager to get on board to help raise awareness of her own farming operation, as well as others like it.

New highway signs have helped advertise her farm, but Manyluk feels that the program, should it continue and grow, will raise more awareness among people who may otherwise not consider visiting farms.

“They’re what I call small adventures,” she said. “It’s lovely to climb on a plane and go somewhere exciting, but we often can’t do that. We don’t have the time, or the money, or even the inclination, for that matter, and there is so much in Central Alberta and Alberta in general.”

Visitors to The Farm With The Good Food were able to take in all the sights and sounds of a traditional mixed farm, said Manyluk, who has farmed on the property since 1977.

They were also able to visit Holmehus Antiques, an antique store owned and operated by Manyluk on the farm, and find out how the farm came to be referred to as The Farm With The Good Food.

The farm, while not organic, is “about as natural as you can get”, according to Manyluk.

Its products, like other farms in the area have attracted interest from consumers beyond Central Alberta.

“The whole point is, if you know your farmer, why wouldn’t you shop there?,” she said, referring to nearby Sylvan Star Cheese as an example. “What they do, they do really well.”

Manyluk said she intends to contact other participants in Alberta Open Farm Days to find out how the event went for them. She also plans on participating again should the program continue.

“I see really good potential in this,” she said. “They’ll learn from the things that maybe could have worked better.”

Dr. Richard Starke, Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation noted the potential economic implications of Alberta Open Farm Days, in a media release.

“Tourism in Alberta’s rural communities contributes more than $1.5 billion to our economy each year, and Open Farm Days is a positive step towards seeing that figure grow,” he said. “Whether you’re from around the corner or around the world, Alberta offers the authentic, hands-on experiences that visitors are looking for.”