Chatsworth Farm of Vermilion, Alta., has won the communications award from the Alberta Farm Animal Care council.
The award recognizes those who take an active role in communicating livestock issues and the farm animal care message in a factual and honest manner.
“Chatsworth Farm has risen to the challenge of using digital media to promote agriculture’s interests and stories. They use their social media platform to spread both compelling narrative and accurate factual information about livestock operations,” AFAC said about the recipient.
The farm, started in 1994, began offering virtual farm tours last year after Charlotte Wasylik of Chatsworth Farm used the idea when she learned about online safari tours offered by the Cincinnati Zoo.
“The kinds of animals are a little bit different but the premise is the same,” said Wasylik when accepting the award.
Initially, she used social media to share farm events, particularly at calving time, with friends and family. That generated interest and requests from schools and groups.
After that, she continued offering virtual farm tours. The day before receiving the award, a school class in California took a tour.
“We toured the farm and I showed them the calves and the turkeys that I just hatched out, the sheep and the chickens, so just going over and explaining the management practices that we do on the farm as well as just teaching the kids about the different animals,” she said.
Wasylik is able to tailor the tours to suit different age groups, which she does in consultation with the teacher or tour organizer.
“It’s really simple and easy but they always have so many questions.”
Her next step is to offer farm visit subscriptions. In-person visits by small groups of people will involve a more in-depth look at farm operations, initially focusing on calving.
She anticipates having tours during lambing in May as well as pasture visits in June.
Information is available at chatsworthfarm.ca.