Enterprising Ag Tour 2013
While searching for our next stop on our family adventure across Central Alberta, I came across a poster for the Red Deer County Enterprising Ag Tour. While I couldn’t find much information about the tour, I was intrigued and decided to check it out for myself.
A full day event, the 11th annual tour focused on local food production. The tour typically includes visits to 3 or 4 agriculture businesses but this year it was changed to accommodate smaller producers who don’t necessarily have the space required to handle two full coach buses.
Our morning was spent in Markerville where local attractions, gardens and u-pick farms had booths setup throughout the village.
Markerville Berry & Vegetable
Markerville Berry & Vegetable, a local u-pick farm and vendor at the Wednesday Market in Downtown Red Deer brought some delicious strawberries for us to sample along with some of the tools they use to grow their crops. I stopped by the market after the tour but sadly they were already sold out of strawberries. We’re definitely planning to stop by their farm soon to pick some berries. Check out their website for more information.
Historic Markerville Creamery
The Historic Markerville Creamery was a busy place yesterday with ice cream making, cream separating and butter making demonstrations happening in the yard.
This DeLaval cream separator was used by the local farmers selling cream to the Markerville Creamery. By having the farmers separate the milk themseleves, the creamery had one less step to do in making butter.
The creamery also offered guided tours of the museum. It was great to find out more of the stories behind the exhibits we saw last time we visited.
The Danish Canadian National Museum
Since food was the theme of this year’s tour, freshly made aebleskiver from the Danish Canadian Museum was a perfect fit. Made me wish I hadn’t missed the Aebleskiver ‘n Jam day at the museum earlier this summer…
Aebleskiver are a traditional Danish pancake cooked in a special pan. There are many recipes and the one featured yesterday were sugar free and closer to waffles than pancake. One thing is for sure, they were delicious with jam.
Bison Ranching with Big Bend Market
After lunch we had a chance to visit the Big Bend Marker bison ranch. The ranch is usually closed to the public but we were taken into the field, up close to the bison to learn more about bison ranching from the owner, Ivan Smith.
Ivan took us through the story of his ranch, his original plan to raise organic beef, the struggles that followed the BSE crisis and the lost of his market to a competitor. It wasn’t a straightforward path but the results speak for themselves. He now produces bison meat for local and international market while operating what has become Red Deer’s best boutique grocery store: Big Bend Market.
Hidden Valley U-Pick
Our final stop was Hidden Valley U-Pick, located just outside Sylvan Lake. What started as a retirement project has grown into a large u-pick operations built on the honour system.
Unlike other u-pick, you won’t see staff weighing baskets of fruits or tracking the veggies you’re picking here. There is a small shed at the centre of the garden where you will find out what is available for picking that day and containers to use. Once you’ve done your picking, stop by the shed to drop off your payment before heading home.
Hidden Valley U-Pick is also a regular vendor at the Sylvan Lake Farmers Market, held every Friday evening throughout the summer months.
Enterprising Ag Tour 2014
The tour is open to all ages and attracts a good mix of industry professionals as well as residents and visitors looking to learn more about agriculture in Red Deer County. Check the county website, reddeercounty.ca in July 2014 for information on next year’s tour.