By Justin Seward
While Alberta Open Farm Days is just over a month away, organizers have been busy preparing so that people from across the province can tour farms safely in 2020.
Alberta Open Farm Days provides Albertans the experience of the farm and to gain knowledge of where their food comes from during the two-day event province wide.
“As most things in the province, it’s been tentative,” said Nicola Doherty, Open Farm Days’ marketing coordinator, on hosting the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You know back in March, we were kind of watching what was happening. We weren’t quite sure-each week was different. With Stage 2 being opened, it opened up the possibility of having travel around the province, which is necessary for Open Farm Days and the increase of people (200 outdoors capacity) in an open space. That kind of gives us the freedom to do stuff.”
Open Farm Days have been in daily discussions with the Minister of Agriculture Devin Dreeshen, Alberta Health Services and Economic Tourism and Development to ensure the guidelines are in place for the farms and attendees to be together safely.
“So assuming everything is safe in Stage 2, there’s a couple things that are going to happen,” said Doherty.
“Things like social distancing are going to have be to set into place for all farms, just like they are across the province. No exceptions. We’re providing hand sanitizer for the farm.”
People will have to sign-up in a slotted time to attend a farm, so that farmers can manage the amount of people that are coming on to their properties.
“For some farms, that might not be an issue,” she said.
“So if the farms are in outlying places-what we call clusters-if you have a cluster of farms together, they’re more likely to have more people come. So for those farms that are in clusters it might be a problem making sure they’re regulating people that are coming on to their property.”
The farmers will have to follow the list of COVID-19 safety guidelines that are set out by the province.
“For the most part, they are making sure people are staying the two metres apart, that there’s hand sanitation and they’re wiping things down,” she said.
“Because of that some things are going to have to change, including some of those activities that would happen during Open Farm Days. So wagon rides, you can’t really keep people two metres apart. Another one is some farms have suits and costumes for people to wear. If you’re not able to wipe them down and sanitize them, then we ask that type of activity be axed. We’re asking farms to be a little bit more creative and kind of think outside the box this year.”
People may not be comfortable with straying too far from home and Open Farm Days is working on a plan where they can participate virtually.
“There are going to be some opportunities around virtual tours and participate at home,” said Doherty.
Over 80 farms have signed up for this year.
More information on locations and to sign-up for time slots to attend a farm can be found at http://www.albertafarmdays.ca.
Alberta Open Farm Days is on Aug. 15 and 16.