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Open Farm Days 2017 celebrates biggest year yet

The fifth-annual edition of Open Farm Days broke records as visitors made their way to farms, ranches and culinary events across the province to experience the best rural Alberta has to offer. 

Open Farm Days 2017 celebrates biggest year yet

Joan Bondar and Gordon King sold fresh produce at the Open Farm Days event hosted by Poplar Bluff Organics.

According to newly released data, 101 host farms and ranches had more than 20,000 visits during Open Farm Days, Aug. 19-20. The weekend’s experiences and activities included 22 farm-to-table culinary events that helped boost on-farm sales to $146,121 over two days – an increase of nine per cent over the previous year’s event.

“Open Farm Days gets bigger and better every year with more visitors discovering and supporting our rural producers. From historical experiences spanning the Middle Ages to the Old West, family-friendly petting zoos and corn mazes, livestock and vegetable farms, along with breweries, meaderies, wineries and distilleries, there was truly something for everyone. The great response demonstrates the continued potential of agri-tourism.”

Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism

The overall year-over-year growth in Open Farm Days attendance and sales is supported by the increasing number and variety of farm, ranch and culinary event hosts participating in the event. The array of experiences offered through Open Farm Days highlights agriculture’s importance and vitality as a core sector in Alberta. They also help showcase the broad range and growing number of opportunities available to entrepreneurs in rural and culinary tourism.

“The success of Open Farm Days is due in large part to the hard work of our farmers and ranchers who produce world-class products that are a source of pride for our province. The strong support of Albertans for this event that showcases the incredible potential of our sector in diversifying our economy has been truly remarkable.”

Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Open Farm Days 2017 – By the numbers

 

2016

2017

% Growth

Farm participation

92

101

10 per cent

Visits

17,804

20,129

13 per cent

Sales

$134,280

$146,121

9 per cent

For the first time, culinary events and open houses took place on both Saturday and Sunday of the Open Farm Days weekend. This change was based on popular demand and made it easier for visitors to experience the event and helped increase ticket sales.

Alberta Open Farms Days aims to grow farm-to-fork tourism opportunities and support growth in the local food sectors. This in turn helps support economic diversification and create jobs in the agriculture, tourism and culinary sectors.

Participating operators can also access other product development supports such as business coaching, industry learning opportunities and regional networks. Together, this suite of activities supports the development of occasional farm-to-fork tourism offerings to become more established season-long operations.

The 2017 program was a collaborative project presented by the Government of Alberta (Culture and Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry), Ag for Life, the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies, Travel Alberta and participating farms, ranches, hosts and agricultural societies.

Quick facts

  • The vast majority of Albertans (87.6 per cent) have participated in some form of farm-to-fork tourism over the past 12 months.*
  • The most commonly attended activities are dining at a restaurant serving Alberta ingredients (74.6 per cent), attending a farmer’s market (57.2 per cent) and farm retail purchasing (41.5 per cent).*

(*2017 Survey of Albertans, Alberta Culture and Tourism)


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