BONNYVILLE – Local farmers and ranchers are throwing open their gates to give others an inside look at what they do.
Alberta Open Farm Days is set to go ahead on Aug. 15 and 16, with participating members of the agricultural sector welcoming attendees to their properties for tours, meals, and games.
One of this year's first-time participants is Bonnyville's Charlotte Lake Farms, who is hoping to "bring the market to the farm" on Aug. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’re going to have a little farmers' market, which will have farmers that are producing in the area with a variety of things,” explained Leona Bonneau, co-owner of Charlotte Lake Farms, adding there will also be fun activities for the whole family.
“We’re hoping to have a hay bale maze, some demonstrations of horse training, hoof trimming, and there’s going to be a presentation on bees and honey.”
Along with other local producers, Charlotte Lake Farms has partnered with the MD of Bonnyville and Community Futures Lakeland for the event.
“They’re inviting local farmers who sell products to set up at their farm and then they’re going to have other events to bring people in,” explained Susanne Appleby, project coordinator for Community Futures Lakeland. “It’s just to show (attendees) how homegrown food gives them that homegrown taste, give them information, and just bring people to the farm so they can have a first-hand look at where their food comes from and what farming life is all about.”
According to Bonneau, the educational aspect is why they decided to participate in Open Farm Days.
“It’s to help people understand how much work it takes to make food and grow it.”
Along with Charlotte Lake Farms' own beef, there will be farm fresh eggs, milk, cream, cheese, lamb, chicken, pies, and bread available during the event.
St. Paul-based Lakeland Brewing Company is joining the province-wide event for a second year. Owner Colin Porozni explained that having locally-sourced barley allows them to fall under the Alberta Open Farm Days umbrella.
“We’ve been open for years now, and it still amazes me that there’s so many people coming in that it’s their first time in the brewery,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize that we actually brew the beer right on-site, so it’s for awareness.”
The Lakeland Brewing Company will be offering brewery tours and beer tastings, and will be fielding any inquiries people may have.
“We always get people asking questions about how beer is made and different things like that,” Porozni said, adding that COVID-19 has made the push to support local even more critical.
“I think people are learning more about their surroundings versus being able to travel to far off places. It’s more important now than ever to support local as much as you can, whether it’s a honey maker or anything like that. There’s lots of things in our own backyards that we kind of take for granted.”
After a successful first year with Open Farm Days in 2019, Porozni said they were excited to participate again this time around.
“I was a pharmacist in St. Paul for 25 years before this, so I pretty much know everybody in the area and it’s pretty good to connect with people I haven’t seen in a few years.”
Other local locations on the Open Farm Days map are the Baby Cherry Greenhouse in the MD of Bonnyville and the People's Museum of St. Paul and District.
For more information and locations visit albertafarmdays.ca.