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‘We are excited with how Alberta Open Farms Days 2021 went,’ says Tim Carson, CEO, Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies. ‘Despite the continuing challenges and uncertainty around COVID-19, Alberta producers and rural communities were excited to share their farms and knowledge to educate people about where their food comes from and to encourage people to shop local. And Albertans were very interested in visiting farms and ranches and participating in the enjoyable and educational events throughout the weekend.’
In 2021, 106 farms and ranches opened their doors to Albertans for Alberta Open Farm Days, an increase of 28% from the previous year. Of that, 36 were new farms. Four agricultural societies also participated – Rosemary, Ardrossan, Smoky Lake and Spruce Grove.
Over 12,000 Albertans visited these farms and ranches over the weekend of August 14 and 15, an increase of 19% from 2020. Host farms reported an estimated $46,250 in on-farm sales during the weekend, with additional sales inquiries after the event.
‘There was also a huge increase in culinary participation in 2021. 78 farms had some type of food available for on-site consumption, an increase of 130% from last year. Of those, 44 had food service that included food trucks and food vendors or caterers.’
The purpose of Open Farm Days is twofold: firstly, to educate the public about agriculture in Alberta, and to build public trust towards producers and the industry; and secondly, to increase agri-tourism in Alberta and make both producers and visitors aware of the potential of agri-tourism markets.
‘We also helped support and coach 4 farms with the development of new products. Samples of these products were packaged and available to the host farms that wished to promote them. And several cluster areas were identified and there were 9 markets providing consumers the opportunity to discover and purchase several different local products at one location,’ says Carson.
Based on visitor survey responses received, 98% of visitors rated their Open Farm Days experience as very good or excellent. In addition, 89% of visitors agreed or strongly agreed that their understanding and perception of agriculture in Alberta improved as a result of participating in the event.
‘We intend to open the registration for 2022 before the end of 2021 to allow hosts to register and plan in their off season. This will allow more time for coaching the host farms in the areas of marketing and onsite program development. We are looking forward to celebrating the 10th anniversary of Alberta Open Farm Days in 2022. Alberta Open Farm Days would not be possible without the incredible hosts who welcome visitors to their farms or the tremendous support of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Travel Alberta,’ says Carson.
For more information, connect with the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies:
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