Open Farm Days

BARNWELL & ENCHANT, Alta. — Visitors chose a potato, washed a potato, sliced a potato, deep-fried a potato and ate the resulting french fries at CP Farms near Barnwell, Alta., during Alberta Open Farm Days held Aug. 23.

Visitors embraced the chance to participate in the procedure at the 2,500-acre farm operation that produces potatoes, grain corn, sunflowers, sugar beets and wheat.

“We did this because we think it’s important that people in the community that we live in know what’s happening on the farm, beyond being able to buy the products in the grocery store,” said Michel Camps, who operates the farm with his wife, Hanneke.

The Camps had their farm equipment and storage facilities on display, along with posted information, regular tours and various activities.

Companies to which they sell their produce also had displays, including Lantic Sugar and Spitz sunflower seeds.

At Enchant, Alta., Kyle Prince of the Alberta Conservation Association was showing visitors how the dry corners of fields irrigated with pivots can be used to enhance wildlife habitat.

He was giving tours at the Enchant Demonstration Farm west of the hamlet.

“This is a great opportunity to share what we’re doing here,” said Prince.

Shrubs have been planted between the cultivated area and the field corners to provide cover and food for wildlife. A strip of sorghum between the shrubs and the open area of the field corner provides an additional buffer and food source, and efforts have also been made to enhance wetlands.

Prince said the ACA surveys the upland birds and other wildlife in the area to see whether its conservation efforts are working. Early results are promising.

The property is farmed by Stamp Seeds in Enchant.

Stamp Seeds was another farm operation that opened its doors to visitors. Marian Stamp showed the process and involved in producing and selling pedigreed seed.

The family farm operation includes a wide array of crops, seed storage, seed treatment and sales.

“I think we’re open always … we’re open every day to people to come and see what we’re doing and what we produce and how we produce it,” said Richard Stamp.

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MORINVILLE, Alta. — Fred and Inga Hirschfeld first learned about sour cherries and haskap berries three years ago during Alberta Open Farm Days.

The Edmonton couple now grow the fruit in their city garden and tell their friends about the berries and what they learn by travelling to farms.

“We enjoy this trip so much. We find it absolutely fascinating and you get to know your province,” said Inga.

This summer, the sour cherry tree that Inga bought after her first Open Farm Days was loaded with cherries.

“You learn things. This is so interesting.”

More than 70 farms opened their gates to visitors this year.

A steady stream of visitors stopped at Midmore Farms north of Morinville to learn more about Ward and Jo-Anne Middleton’s organic farm.

Visitors watched Ward drag the portable pig pen forward to fresh grass, threshed wheat by hand in the field, checked out the Holstein calves that will soon become meat and learned how Ward would fix a flat tire on his tractor by picking up a second-hand tire at a tractor wrecker.

“A tractor wrecker. I have never heard of that,” said Dan Muench, who came on the tour to learn more about Alberta’s agriculture economy.

“I work in the oil field and I realize agriculture is a really important part of the economy. I have always lived in the city. Coming out here is exotic.”

During Open Farm days, visitors can make a connection with farmers still on the land.

“It is really neat. It’s amazing how you get this direct to farmer conversation,” said Muench.

Alberta Open Farm Days was held across the province Aug. 23. Western Producer reporters Barb Glen and Mary MacArthur filed these reports.

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