Cohen, Xavier and Shaela Folkerts get seed from Norah Tolmie at Aagaard Farms as part of Open Farm Day across the province. (CHARLES TWEED/BRANDON SUN)
Farmers swung open their gates and invited the public to tour their operations as part of Open Farm Day across the province on Sunday.
"It’s always fun to have the public come out here," said Norah Tolmie of Aagaard Farms, which is located just east of Brandon.
Aagaard Farms is a community-supported agriculture (CSA) operation that grows fruits and vegetables for sale at farmers’ markets, but they also have a collection of animals, including goats, whose milk is transformed into handcrafted soaps.
"A lot of the attraction to come here for the kids is the animals," Tolmie said.
Animals that include free-range chickens, farm dogs and barn cats.
"Others are really interested in what small producers are doing and how it works," Tolmie said. "We’re surprised every year because some city people don’t know that you dig for a carrot or a potato."
Education is also a big reason Aagaard Farms wanted to be a part of Open Farm Day. Tolmie said the farm also hosts an open house and at times has had school field trips to the farm.
"When we asked some of the kids where they thought carrots came from, they said they might be on bushes," Tolmie said. "People can ask us any question they want and we really love sharing that information."
More than 50 farms in Manitoba participated in the program, giving people a chance to ride a horse or milk a cow, depending on the operation.
After participating in the Terry Fox Run in Brandon, Virden’s Terry and Stephanie De Jong decided to make a day of the event, hitting all of the farms along the route back home with their two young daughters.
"It’s nice to see her running around and checking things out and very excited and getting into trouble," Stephanie said about her almost two-year-old daughter Lily, who had managed to get herself in quite a bit of farm fun during their stop at Aagaard Farms.
The farm, which also doubles as a community garden with about 30 plots, is something that intrigued De Jong, who buys all of her vegetables from a farmers’ market.
"I’m a city person so looking from it from this perspective it would be cool to be part of a CSA, but then I’d have to figure out how to cook it," De Jong joked.
According to Tolmie the community garden aspect of the farm has almost doubled in the last five year.
"People really want to know where their food comes from these day," Tolmie said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 17, 2012