Alberta Open Farm Days Adventures

·3 min read

Alberta Open Farm Days is a two-day province-wide event that offers Albertans the unique opportunity to connect with participating local farmers and producers and learn about where their food comes from. A lot of people do not get many opportunities to experience being on a farm, to learn about what is involved in growing, raising, or producing the goods we encounter in the supermarket. With the abundance of different agricultural products being produced in our province… there are plenty of new experiences to sample close to home.

Alberta Open Farm Days took place on Aug. 13th and 14th this year, which just happens to be the event’s 10th Anniversary. Over 110 participating farms and producers from as far north as Bay Tree and as far south as Pincher Creek took part in this year’s event, showcasing everything from traditional fruits, vegetables, and livestock to mead, industrial hemp, and Tibetan Yaks.

The Grizzly Gazette decided to see what Open Farm Days was all about, heading south out of Swan Hills. We visited two participating farms roughly 50 km south of Whitecourt, within Woodlands County.

Ural Farms, owned and operated by Anton Goulko and Dorothy Penne, is a brand new orchard operation that just started producing its first crop this year. Anton and Dorothy were very friendly and welcoming hosts, happy to show their guests around and answer their questions. In addition to touring and learning about Ural Farms’ orchard operation, guests could peruse a handcrafted vendor market, try out an orienteering course for kids and families, or wander the scenic pathways through the wooded areas of the farm. Guests could also check out Ural Farms’ two covered pioneer wagons that have been refitted to serve as a unique lodging experience.

One of the main attractions at the Backwoods Buffalo Ranch was the Bison Tour. Guests loaded up onto a “big ole” tractor towed trailer with plenty of hay bales for seating and had a guided tour out into the fields to view one of the bison herds. While it isn’t advisable to get right up close and personal with these mighty beasts, the guests were treated to great views of the herd and excellent photo opportunities. Back at the main farm area, guests could wander the grounds and enjoy the flowers and gardens. Free-range chickens wandered the yard without a care in the world, and it was just a short walk to get to the spacious pens housing the farm’s pigs. The Backwoods Buffalo Ranch also hosted a vendor’s market in addition to their own Market Farm Store. The Farm Store offered a variety of unique products, from Backwoods Buffalo Ranch apparel to signature BBQ spices and sauces, and fresh or frozen bison, pork, or chicken.

Alberta Open Farm Days offered a unique opportunity to experience the province’s diverse farms, ranches, and other agricultural offerings on a personal level. With such a wide range of farming operations to choose from, there is so much to take in and discover. Keep an eye out for next year’s Open Farm Days events, and check out a farm or two when you get the chance.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette