For those of you who want more information on where your food comes from, or for those of you with kids who keep asking questions about where food comes from, Alberta Open Farm Days is for you. It’s the fourth annual weekend of these types of events in Alberta that welcome us city folk out to farms where we can learn about the source of some of our province’s best ingredients and biggest industries.
Sunday, August 21 is Farm Experience day. Dozens of farms across the province are open on Sunday, August 21 with tours and hands-on experiences to show you how local ingredients, including livestock, veggies and grain are produced and grown. They are all drop-in and several farms are selling their goods.
Saturday, August 20 is Culinary Experience day. On this day, chefs and producers join together for special food events that include long-table dinners and picnics. The list of locations is a little smaller and pre-purchasing tickets is often required.
Here are eight of those culinary experiences, all within a few hours of Calgary, to plan for.
When: Saturday, August 20, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: 55 minutes southeast of Calgary
If you haven’t been to Aspen Crossing, this is the weekend to do it. It’s a charming attraction less than an hour from the city that includes a collection of train cars. Some of the cars have been converted into cabins that you can stay overnight in. A 1887 Pullman train car has been converted into a dining car, and the train station is a shop and green house. Aspen Crossing also has an excursion car that moves along 28 miles of privately owned tracks.
For Open Farm Days, Aspen Crossing is taking the excursion train out for a four-hour trip through the prairies. The event includes a picnic lunch and the Train Robbery Show.
Adults $109.99 (children, $65.99); aspencrossing.com
When: Friday, August 19 to Sunday, August 21
Where: 2.5 hours south of Calgary
Castle Moutain’s Huckleberry Festival times perfectly with Open Farm Days. It’s essentially a weekend with activities that take over the resort mostly made for winter. Ride the chairlift to take in the views. When you get to the top, pick huckleberries. There are also barbecue lunches and pig roast suppers. Flea markets, silent auctions, campfires and live music complete the festival.
When: Saturday, August 20, 9:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.
Where: 2 hours south of Calgary
This bus tour starts at Exhibition Park in Lethbridge, where a farmers’ market is set up. From there, the bus takes the group to four farms where you will learn about how the products are produced or grown. Halfway through, you’ll get a bagged lunch. The last stop is Broxburn Caf where a prime rib roast dinner with ingredients from the visited farms is served. After homemade pie for dessert, the bus will take you back to Lethbridge.
When: Saturday, August 20, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: 1 hour 15 minutes northeast of Calgary
Mousse Cake Sally is a micro farm and pastry shop in a one-room schoolhouse built in 1911. Baker Leah Slade, originally from Newfoundland, has set up shop there, making tarts, cakes and mousses with ingredients she grows on the property. For Open Farm Days, go to Mousse Cake Sally for a $12 picnic lunch and a tour of the property.
When: Saturday, August 20, activities at 4 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m.
Where: 1 hour east of Calgary
For this barbecue, Chef Judy Wood prepares a farm-to-fork meal with local beef, chicken and just-picked veggies. There is also a dessert bar, beer tastings, live music and horse drawn wagon rides. Enjoy it while watching the sun set over the lake.
$75 per person ($135 per couple); rockingrguestranch.com
When: Saturday, August 20 with happy hour at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m.
Where: 1 hour 25 minutes north of Calgary
If you have ever wanted to visit an Icelandic hamlet in Alberta, now is your chance. The Stephan G. Sephansson Icelandic Society owns four sites in Markerville, including the Markerville Creamery Museum and Fensala Hall. Get to Markerville early for some ice cream before a roast chicken and beef stew dinner at the hall. It all ends with pie.
When: Friday, August 19, 5 p.m.
Where: 1 hour and 15 minutes north of Calgary
Innisfail Growers is coordinating this smoked beef dinner at The Jungle Farm that includes veggies from some of its member producers as well as dessert, wine and entertainment. Proceeds raised from this dinner go to local 4H clubs.
When: Saturday, August, 20, 5 p.m.
Where: 2 hours and 15 minutes north of Calgary
This long table dinner is a buffet of roast pork, smoked turkey, potatoes, tomato salad, onion salad, pickles and fresh bread with rhubarb custard pie for dessert. The cash bar has beer and wine and there are after-dinner hay rides.
For a complete list of farm and culinary experiences, visit albertafarmdays.com