Post SPONSORED BY parkland county
I want my son to know where his food comes from. It may seem a little early (he’s only 5 months) but let me tell you he was 100% captivated with all the things he saw. I want him to make positive associations with his food and meet the people who labor over the crops and raise the animals that feed him.
Alberta Open Farm Days lifts the veil on the ever growing question: where does my food come from?
Parkland County’s Local Farm Trail
I had the pleasure of visiting the five farms which are part of Parkland County’s Local Farm Trail this week with my dear friend Sara and our little critters. We got to meet the owners of these farms. They welcomed us with arms wide open and gab at the ready. We learn TONS about how their operations work, what they produce and most of all, who they are as people. As men and women. As families.
Curious about farms but unsure how to plan your route for Alberta Open Farm Days?
I don’t know about you but I’m a busy gal and sometimes, I have a hard time choosing. So, instead of trying to figure it all out on your own, the lovely coordinators at Parkland County may just have the thing for you.
Parkland County offers a guided bus tour + lunch (which only has about 20 tickets left)
Curious about where you'll be headed?
Here are the farms you'll get to enjoy on your tour!
First stop Happy Acres U-Pick
If you decide to join the guided tour, your first stop will be Happy Acres U-Pick, a darling farm nestled in on the corner of Golden Spike Road & Range Road 273. You will be greeted by Tennille with a warm breakfast and coffee. Let me just tell you, from one foodie to another, that I would be there every single day for their muffins alone if this on-farm café was my neighborhood place!
Then you'll be whisked away for a tour of the property and early access to their u-pick gardens. Everything is clearly marked off for picking. They believe that nature will take care of things, so they don't irrigate (can you believe it?) and the variety of produce available is astounding!
Don't be afraid to ask questions!
I learned quite a few things as we went through the rows of produce. Namely that peas (shelling, snow and snap) are all entirely edible, you just have to be willing to pull the stringy fiber from the pods on the shelling peas! It takes a minute, but it sure is worth the effort and it can be a fun way to get help from your kids in the kitchen. Either way, I won't be composting those shells anymore.
From the gardens, you'll be able to walk back to the red barn and get to meet some pretty fantastic farm animals. Then you'll head back to the treat center (seen above) and get ready to move on to the next farm.
on to the next farm...
Aspen Grove Nursery
There will be a whole lot happening at Aspen Grove Nursery for Open Farm Days. They will have a handmade market, a confection stand, apple tasting in their orchard and a pruning demonstration. You'll have more than enough to do while you're there, but make sure you visit the animals too!
This place is more than an awesome looking western-movie-set inspired nursery. Each creature that resides on the farm has a story to tell (usually from rather rough beginnings). They have a farm rescue program going strong on the farm and some of the proceeds from OFD will go straight back into the animal's care! They now all live as a happy family on the farm. There's even a cow who's pretty sure it's a donkey because it was raised since it was little with them!
Want to hear a cool story while you're there? Ask about the homestead. It's one of the first houses with running water in the whole county!
On to the next..
I wanted to knit a sweater so I bought a flock of sheep - Farmer Dell
Farmer Dell (which is her middle name by the way) has to be one of the most hospitable women I've ever met. Her charm and her property will make you want to stay forever!
Here you will meet some friendly sheep and learn about the arts of spinning and weaving. She has also dug her heels (and spade) into the concepts behind permaculture. She said something which really rang true to me "I'm not a sheep farmer, I'm a soil farmer". Truth is, if you're farming for better soil, you're improving the entire chain.
Better soil means better grass + vegetables. Which in turn means better sheep + chickens. Which in turn means better manure... which you guessed it, makes better soil.
She'll be providing some hot + iced tea during the tour so be sure to pause, have a sip and bask in Farmer Dell's wisdom.
Epicurean lunch on the trail...
That's a lot of exploring for one morning! The next stop is at Home Grown Foods for an epicurean lunch in the shade (where we are standing in the above photo) using the produce and products from the farms on the Parkland County Local Farm Trail.
While you're here you'll get a little bit of the farm's history. They've been a farm family since they moved over from Austria five generations ago. Talk about having it in your blood! While we were there I even got to meet the next generation of Schoepp farmers, their daughter. She was painting trim to tidy up before farm days!
You'll also be able to experience some of their goods, like beef, bread made from their freshly ground flour, as well as their legendary soft serve ice cream!
If you want to know more about organic farming, these are the folks you want to be asking as they were doing it long before it was "the thing to be done".
Last but definitely not the least...
Good Morning Honey
I don't know about you but I've never been to a honey farm before. Of all the honey farms we could have visited I was glad it was this one. Why? Because I recently discovered Good Morning Honey through some friends (who own The Colombian Mountain Coffee).
When I tried Richard and Amber's honey for the first time I had a coming-home moment. I didn't know why, and I couldn't quite explain it but I had a rush of sticky sweet memories from my childhood. When I visited their farm, I figured out what it was all about.
They produce (among other things) clover honey. Which is what I had growing up and they jar it in its purest, simplest form. Just as nature intended.
One of the things that completely blew my mind, and that I had never really stopped to think about was how everything gets used in a honey operation. Nothing gets wasted. The wax gets seperated for candle making, the honey gets bottled up and even the pollen.. oh the divine tasting fresh pollen, gets packaged up and sold.
This, my friends, will end your tour on the sweetest possible note.