Participating farms welcome Open Farm Days event

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About 40 farms are planning to open their gates and welcome the public in “Open Farm Days,” a provincially sponsored initiative next month.

“I’m really encouraged to see Alberta Ag kind of getting on board with current consumer trends,” said Rachel Herbert, one of the owners at Trail’s End Beef near Nanton, one of the participating farms.

Open Farm Days will run Aug. 24 and 25. Culinary events will take up Aug. 24, and farms around the province will be open to the public on Aug. 25. “This event will highlight the tremendous work our farmers and ranchers are doing to grow the province’s agriculture, agri-food and ag-tourism industries,” said provincial Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson in the 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,” said Dr. Richard Starke, minister of tourism, parks and recreation.

The event was announced at the Calgary Stampede. It’s a pilot project and the government is collaborating with Ag for Life, the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance, the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies, Travel Alberta and the participating farms and ranches. Herbert, who runs a beef operation with husband Tyler and mother Linda Loree, said Open Farm Days fits in with their policy of allowing the public access to their ranch.

“A lot of people are surprised to see how many projects we’ve got on the go,” she said, noting people are often shocked to find out how much work farming is.

Laura and Cal Siebenga will be welcoming the public to their lamb operation near Lacombe, Brown Eggs and Lamb. “It’s good exposure,” Laura said. They also run a farm gate store and she said any publicity that gains from Open Farm Days is a good thing. “We’ll see how well it’s responded to,” she said, and whether or not people are willing to drive from the city. She said so far the event seems well organized. The Siebengas will run tours of their operation for the day, which isn’t a regular feature of their farm. More information on Open Farm Days is available online at www.albertafarmdays.com.

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