Many events have been cancelled this summer because of COVID-19.
Not Alberta’s Open Farm Days.
Barring a second wave of the illness and restrictions it could cause, the event showcasing Alberta’s farms and agricultural industry will proceed on Aug. 15 and 16. At least 100 farming operations plan to open their gates to visitors, with more expected to register by the June 30 deadline.
Alberta Health restricts gatherings to fewer than 100 people because of the coronavirus, so that will require visitors to register on-line before visiting participating farms. The experience is free, but visitors will be asked to do more planning than in the past, said Nicola Doherty, marketing co-ordinator for Open Farm Days.
“It’s not going to be the Open Farm Days that everyone has grown to love but by the same token, I think it’s a great opportunity for those that have never participated before to get out of the city and go explore Alberta and learn something about how food is produced in the province, and the variety of food that’s produced in the province as well.”
Doherty said all farms that have previously participated are being contacted to ensure they are comfortable with requirements. Those include the need to provide for two-metre physical distancing and use of hand sanitizer, which is being provided to farms by the Open Farm Days organizing group.
The distancing factor may preclude some activities, such as wagon rides for example, and Doherty said participating farms are encouraged to be creative in their approach to meeting provincial health guidelines.
“We are expecting a lower number of farms than previous years. Some farms, it’s easier to do Open Farm Days with some of the conditions and for some it’s a little bit harder. But so far, response has been really good,” Doherty said.
The time slots for visiting farms will be organized through the Open Farm Days website. Participating farms are asked to provide any details on special requirements, such as if they want visitors to wear masks.
Visitors should be aware of health guidelines on preventing the spread of COVID-19, which are publicized by the province.
“It’s going to take a little bit more effort on the part of the participants, the audience, this year than it was in the past. In the past you could just kind of show up as you please. We’re still hoping that everyone is able to have fun and learn about Open Farm Days but just keeping in mind the restrictions from the province while they do it.”
Smaller farms that typically get fewer visitors may have no problem with the 100-person limit, but Doherty said that’s not the case for all. One farm in Parkland County, west of Edmonton, typically gets 900 visitors over the two-day event, so pre-booking will be necessary.
Information on Open Farm Days can be found at https://albertafarmdays.ca.