D-I-Y farm tours – Here’s a pitchfork full of opportunities for city folk to connect with farm folk this summer in Alberta

Me and one of my closest farming friends - Penny Marshal of Highwood Crossing Farms presenting at The Calgary Stampede Calgary Coop Showcase Kitchen in 2011 - I've learned so much about farming and cooking from Penny! photo credit - Adam Chiasson

Me and one of my closest farming friends – Penny Marshal of Highwood Crossing Farms presenting at The Calgary Stampede Calgary Coop Showcase Kitchen in 2011 – I’ve learned so much about farming and cooking from Penny!
photo credit – Adam Chiasson

Visiting Alberta’s farms and farmers – whether urban or rural – has always been a big part of my life in Alberta and summer is the prime time to make a visit. If you’d like to meet some farmers here’s some ideas I’ve collected to help you be “Outstanding in a field” this summer.

Country Drive
25 farms, gardens and museums in and around the Red Deer area are featured in five showcase weekends – the spring drive on June 7 – 8, summer drive on July 12 – 13, open farm days August 23 – 24, harvest time drive September 13 – 14 and Harvest Showcase on September 28 – 29. Go to Country Drive for a driving map and listings of hours.

Open Farm Days
Last year’s inaugural event saw over 40 Alberta farms* open their gates to welcome guests with special activities, tastings and family fun. Saturday, August 23 festivities will kick off with a diverse menu of culinary events including Ukrainian dinners, 10-mile meals, berry festivals and high tea. Check out the list of farms to visit on Sunday, August 24 at Alberta Farm Days.
*With nine urban Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) farms as part of YYC Growers and Distributors Consortium, the SAIT culinary garden and bubble greenhouse, and many rooftop hotel and restaurant gardens within the Calgary city limits – opportunities to visit a “local” farm might be closer than you think.

Taste Alberta
Look forward to this July 11 mid-summer’s progressive meal 30 minutes North of Edmonton with several participating farms culminating in a catered dinner. Details at Taste Alberta’s eventbrite spot.

Innisfail Growers Customer Appreciation Days
July 27, 2014 you can visit the five farms that make up the Innisfail Growers and receive a free bag of produce at each stop. Check out Innisfail Growers for a printable map and hours.

Bus Tours

Discover a little of Organic Alberta
Winter’s Turkeys, Poplar Bluff Farm, and Heritage Harvest will partner with Organic Alberta to once again sponsor and host ‘Come Visit the Farm’ – a local organic farm tour on Sunday August 17th, 2014. Tickets will be available at Community Natural Foods and Sunnyside Natural Market. For more details, contact Organic Alberta or 587-521-2400.

Gail Hall’s Seasoned Solutions Alberta Culinary Tours
With two successful culinary tours in Alberta under her belt (Smoky Lake and Gull Valley), Hall will offer overnight trips to Kitscoty and Lloydminster, (recently completed June 21 and 22) and Medicine Hat, August 16 and 17 for the 2014 season. Prices will range between $500 and $750. Check out Seasoned Solutions for full details.

Urban Agriculture Tours

YYC Growers Garden Harvest Basket Ride
Saturday, July 5, 1:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Meet At: Sunnyside Shared Garden, 1012-1044 Memorial Dr NW
Cost: $25/person at Cyclepalooza
Kye Kocher of YYC Growers and Distributors hosts their first annual garden tour bicycle ride to three different SPIN farms (Small Plot INtensive) within the city. At each farm participants will learn how to harvest different types of produce and at the ride’s end each cyclist will take home a basket of produce. Funds cover the cost of the produce and refreshments with a small percentage going to the building of YYC Growers and Distributors collaborative processing hub. Riders need their own bike.

Verge Permaculture Open Yard Tours
Various dates throughout the summer
$39/person at Verge
Two hour tours of Verge Permaculture’s home base for those interested in learning about food forests, edible and medicinal plants, passive solar greenhouses, water harvesting systems, composting systems, cob ovens, and mega-productive vegetable gardening.

Bee-cycling Home2Hive Tours
Tuesdays, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Meet at: Edworthy Park
Cost: $45/person (including some refreshments) at Backyard Bees
Bring your bike and meet Apiaries and Bees for Communities to spend an evening touring some of their 150 backyard beehives along the Bow River pathway system. Learn about bees and the thriving hive mentality in our city and spoiler alert: expect to taste some honey.

New and Nifty

Find your Soil Mate
Travelling across North America this summer? Check out SoilMate to build your own culinary farm tour itinerary based on products you are seeking from u-picks to wineries to produce growers and ranchers. This site will allow you to make visiting farms part of your journey no matter where you roam on this great continent of ours.

Calgary Food Tours Inc.

After organizing, leading and hosting 14 City Palate “Foodie Tootles” since 2008, I am now focused on offering walking food tours four days a week in five of Calgary’s tastiest neighbourhoods between May to October each year. Check out Calgary Food Tours Inc. for more details.

Chef Steve Smee welcoming guests at Ox and Angela on Calgary Food Tour's Savouring 17th Ave SW food tour photo - Karen Anderson

Chef Steve Smee welcoming guests at Ox and Angela on Calgary Food Tour’s Savouring 17th Ave SW food tour
photo – Karen Anderson

Leave a comment

Filed under Farm Tours, Farms, Farming and Farmers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s