Nowadays, the producer and the consumer are floating further and further apart, and interaction is a rare sight.
Alberta Open Farm Days is a weekend that allows members of the public to visit farmers that are willing to open their doors for the event! The two-day event, which was held August 19-20, allows consumers to see with their own eyes where their food comes from and ‘meat’ the farmers that produce it!
There were 101 locations open during open farm days, ranging from crop farms, livestock farms, bee businesses, counties, distilleries, and event centres. Out of all the locations open we were able to visit 5 farms throughout the weekend!
The five farms included one of our member’s farms, Winter’s Turkeys, and four other farms that are local to the Calgary area: Country Lane Farms, Glengary Bison, Trails End Beef and Your Local Ranch Ltd.
All farms were very welcoming to us and to the public that were touring their operations.
While we were touring the farms we got the chance to talk to some of the producers and ask them why they choose to open their doors on this special weekend throughout Alberta.
Country Lane Farms:
Jerry Kamphuis has a different kind of broiler barn. What makes his a bit different than other barns in the industry is that there are three different ages of birds that are in the same barn at one time. In the barn, there are three different rooms: the brooder room which housed 1500 chicks that were three days old; grower room 1 which housed 1500 birds that were 30 days old; and grower room 2 had another 1500 birds that were 52 days olds.
It’s pretty uncommon to see three different ages of birds all under one roof, since transfer of disease can occur quickly in the poultry industry, but Country Lane Farms is taking all aspects of biosecurity into account and making their operation very successful.
Jerry, along with his wife and family, decided to open their barn doors during Open Farm Days for two reasons, “First I believe the consumer is getting too far removed from where there food comes from and need more opportunities to get to the farm. Second these new people are great prospects to become regular customers of ours.”
Your Local Ranch:
Your Local Ranch Ltd. is a family owned and operated cattle ranch located in Airdrie, Alberta and have been there for over 40 years. Along with cattle they also have Quarter Horses, heavy horses and some chickens on their farm. Wayne and Ronda Hanson are the primary operators along with their children, and family they are currently raising commercial cattle but have a ranching history of raising purebred horned Hereford cattle, and later Red Angus.
Along with raising their own animals, they also sell the meat from their beef cattle right on site. They have a store on their farm that is open three days a week as well as an online store.
“We tag the calves when they are born, so they are completely traceable, so when we sell the meat through our store, we know exactly what animal you are buying from.”
When I was talking to Ronda about their operation, you could hear the passion and love for their animals and their ranch in her voice, “We are very proud of our livestock, whether that be the chickens, or our calves, and we are very happy when people want to see our cattle.” Ronda and Wayne were both very happy to answer questions that people had about their operation or about agriculture in general and when they answered, they not only wanted to share their knowledge but their passion as well.
Since Your Local Ranch Ltd. is open three days a week already, it only made sense for Ronda and Wayne along with their family to open their doors to the public for Open Farm Days, “We see more people now than ever that want to experience this kind of life, we thought since we are already open, this weekend is just another avenue that people can take to come to this place and see a bunch of different agriculture”
One defining quality that sets Your Local Ranch Ltd. apart from other operations is that they hand feed all of their feeder calves in the morning and at night. They also have a very small carbon footprint, since they use literal horsepower to feed and bed their cattle in the winter months. They do have one tractor on site, but it is very seldom used.
We were lucky enough to visit a few more farms over the weekend,
where we got some amazing pictures!