Despite many staple community events being cancelled in response to COVID-19, Albertans can still enjoy one event upcoming this weekend.
Alberta Open Farm Days is happening this weekend and which will shiwcase more than 80 farms across the province, including a few stops in the Lakeland.
Chatsworth Farm in Vermilion, the Lakeland Brewing Company and Peoples Museum of St. Paul & District in St. Paul, and Bonnyville’s Rocky Meadow Country Get-Away and Charlotte Lake Farm are hoping for visitors.
Charlotte Lake Farm has been serving Bonnyville since 1911, and today is owned and operated by husband and wife Guy and Leonna Bonneau as a farm-to-table beef producer.
“We raise our own animals and make sure they have a good life. Then when the time comes we have a professional come in to do the butchering to make sure we’re following Alberta health protocols,” said Leonna.
“From there we sell it directly to customers, which is great because not only are you cutting out the middle man in grocery stores but you’re also getting to know the farmers that are providing you with quality beef.”
Leonna and her husband took over the farm in 2014 after Leonna’s parents could no longer handle the day-to-day physical demands of farm work in their old age.
Before that the Bonneaus each worked in the financial sector — Leonna was an accountant, something she still does part-time, and Guy a banker at ATB.
The couple’s children, daughter Catherine, a university graduate, and son Ben, who is entering his Grade 12 year, also help with the decision making and the work around the farm, such as cattle herding and vaccinating livestock.
For Open Farm Days, Charlotte Farm will host a number of activities and events including a tour of the grounds where a guide will be available to answer questions of agriculture and farming, horse and pony rides for children of all ages, a hay bale maze, summer refreshments such as lemonade, donuts and ice cream, live entertainment from local artists, prizes that will be drawn throughout the day, and a pop-up store that will offer the farm’s own eggs, beef, and lamb.
“We’re really looking forward to Open Farm Days. It’s been very labour intensive, but we’ve had a lot of help from the community and the M.D. crew,” said Leonna.
“2020 has just been a nightmare for us. We couldn’t harvest our crops last year because of the fall weather like we normally would, so we started calving in March, and because of the cold weather we had to give each of the babies hoodies so their ears wouldn’t freeze.
“And then with this rain, we got there was even more technical difficulties. In terms of COVID, the only issues we’ve had is with farmers’ markets. We started going to them in March, and it was quiet for a bit but now things are doing well again.”
Charlotte Lake Farm will be open to the public on Saturday from 11:00-4:00pm.
The Lakeland Brewing Company and Rocky Meadow Country Get-Away will be open Saturday and Sunday from 2:00-6:00pm and 11:00am-4:00pm, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Museum of St. Paul & District in St. Paul will be open all weekend from 10:00am-4:00pm.