Farmers who’ve agreed to participate in Manitoba’s first Open Farm Day will be watching their driveways for arriving visitors this Sunday.
Last week Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) extended an invitation to all Manitobans to spend Sept. 19 dropping in to see some 35 farms whose owners agreed to open their gates to the public.
Open Farm Day is a first-ever event to help the public spend time with farm families and learn more about the business of farming, Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers said last week when launching the family-focused event.
“Entire families will be able to learn about agriculture, see demonstrations, take walking tours, buy local products, enjoy some recreational activities and gain some real hands-on experience on the farm,” he said in a release.
“The time visiting a farm will certainly provide a unique educational experience and an enjoyable day for the entire family.”
An online guide lists all the farms with directions and descriptions of the sights and activities they can take in while visiting the farm. The 35 farms range from conventional mixed farms to those specializing in agri-tourism.
The Van Ryssels near Oakbank will open their dairy farm up to the public. Neil Van Ryssel calls the day a good way to expose the general public to agriculture.
“There’s so few people who are familiar with where their food comes from,” he said. “The more we can educate the consumer the better.”
Warren-area chicken producers Leslie and Rudy Reimer will also greet visitors.
They’ll talk to those who drop in about how they raise their birds, and hopefully impress upon them the standard of care poultry producers provide, said Leslie Reimer.
Visitors to their farm will also see newly installed tanks in one of their barns where they will soon be rearing farm-raised trout.
Open Farm Day will show the public how diversified Manitoba farms are becoming, Reimer said, adding she hopes drop-ins will include farmers’ next-door neighbours as well as visitors from farther away.
“I’m hoping that this becomes an opportunity for our local communities to see what’s around them too,” she said.
SUPPER FROM THE FIELD
Open Farm Day will also promote fall suppers taking place across rural Manitoba with a special dinner, featuring locally produced foods prepared by chefs, and being served fall-supper style at the Steinbach Mennonite Heritage Village’s livery barn at the end of the afternoon.
Billed as Supper From the Field, the event takes its inspiration from the success another local food-focused dinner served annually at Riding Mountain National Park, provincial rural leadership specialist Joy Lorette said.
They hope the Steinbach meal goes over so well other locations try it next year, said Lorette, who’s based with MAFRI at Steinbach.
“We’re starting it here. Perhaps next year there will be four or five happening around the province.”
Supper From the Field begins at 5 p. m. with tickets available at 204-392-7268 ($15 for adults, $10 for children 10 years and under.)
More information on Open Farm Day is available on the province’s agri-tourism line at 204- 821-5322 and online at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture.
Brochures with maps listing participating farms are also available from provincial GO centres and GO offices.
“There’s so few people who are familiar with where their food comes from. The more we can educate the consumer the better.”
– NEIL VAN RYSSEL, OAKBANK DAIRY PRODUCER