- Written by Bev Yaworski; Photo: PhotoXpress.com
Lovable llamas, playful hay wagon rides, fresh juicy berries or fantastically fragrant lavender: these are some of the attractions that may entice your family on a summer visit to an Alberta farm. As our society grows hungrier for healthier, close-to-the-land and back-to-nature foods, we are also looking for leisure activities ‘close to home.’
Some travel experts are predicting that more families will be vacationing closer to home this summer. Parents may want to plan farm vacations for their next getaway for a day trip or longer excursion.
With this type of holiday, you are likely to have a more intimate, smaller-scale, low-impact and in most cases, an educational-focused vacation. Farm vacations can involve feeding animals, bird-watching, picnicking, horseback riding or picking fruits and vegetables. Some locations offer tours, bed and breakfasts, hayrides and petting zoos. There are dairy farms where the children can watch cheese being made. You might even have the chance to get up real close and personal by helping with the farming and ranching chores as part of your family’s stay.
Children who visit these farms often have not experienced the excitement of seeing a live chicken, or cow, and may not have picked a berry right off the bush. People today are more interested in how their food is produced and even want to meet the farmers to talk with them about what goes into food production. Community farmers’ markets have seen a renewed interest from people seeking farm-fresh foods. Many markets go out of their way to see that children are entertained. It’s quite common to see children proudly showing off their decorative face painted designs while swaying to toe tapping music. And often you will see a parent and child holding hands and spontaneously springing into a jig dance in front of a frisky fiddler.
For those who want to dig deeper into the farming experience, why not actually have your family pick their own fruit by visiting one of the many Alberta fresh fruit and berry farms that present a stimulating line-up of delicious choices?! You can even discover U-Pick berry farms with the added tasty treat of ice cream.
The Jungle Farm, near Innisfail, says their mission is ‘to offer families healthy local food, outside physical exercise and family memories by providing services such as berry-picking, wagon rides, farm animals, duck races and more.’
Gone Green Farms, near Westerose, north of Calgary, encourages families to ‘get out of the city and come back to the farm for a change of pace, fresh air and new friends.’ Their staff hopes to provide visitors the opportunity to re-acquaint themselves with the simpler life that families may remember from visits to Grandpa’s farm.
Happy Acres U-Pick farm, near Spruce Grove, specializes in chemical-free fruits and veggies for picking. They provide playground equipment, a picnic area and many farm animals including rabbits, horses and exotic birds.
Happy Acres’ staff offers these great tips to make your family’s visit to a farm more memorable:
- Plan ahead. Because farm life is seasonal and weather dependent, call or email first to ensure an activity or food item is available.
- Please dress for the weather! Bring coats, sweaters, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, proper footwear, mosquito repellant and rubber gloves, if needed.0
- Keep hydrated. Some farms sell beverages, but it is a good idea to bring water with you for easy access while picking or enjoying activities.
- Bring bags or pails and rubber or gardening gloves, if you plan to pick fruit or veggies.
- And most importantly, have fun!
Looking to plan your next family-fun summer adventure? Check out these great sites:
Bev is an enthusiastic backyard gardener and writer - who even loves to share her crops with her feathered friends.