Westerner Park is jumping on board the urban farming movement with their Urban Farming Festival set for Aug. 20th.
“The Urban Farm Festival came from a three-part project that we started this year,” said Agricultural Event Sales and Production Coordinator Christina Sturgeon. “The first was creating an urban farm on our Westerner Park site, where 100 per cent of what we produce would go to the Red Deer Food Bank. Unfortunately, the crazy hail we had during Westerner Days wiped out quite a bit of what we had. That was sad for me, but we should have potatoes, zucchinis and tomatoes come back before the end of the season.”
Despite losing some of their produce, Westerner Park is well on the way to their second phase — which is the festival.
“The second part of it is the Urban Farm Festival,” Sturgeon said. “That will be a space where we have workshops and demonstrations. We have one on urban hens, we have one on urban bees, canning, growing, and different topics like that. We will have some vendors and fun activities for kids — petting zoos.”
Sturgeon added the event is also a way for people to further grasp where and how their food is produced.
“It is a place for people to learn what they can get locally and see how things are produced,” she said. “They can grow and produce on their own and learn about preserving.”
The third aspect of Westerner Park’s urban farming plan takes place immediately after the conclusion of the festival.
“The third part of the project is our Long Table Dinner,” she said. “The Urban Farm Festival goes August 20th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. till 9 p.m. we have the dinner called The Taste of Home. We have partnered with the Holiday Inn chef — Chef Emmanuel. He is going to create an amazing menu all out of locally produced products. It should be pretty fantastic.”
Sturgeon said the plan stems from the need to connect agricultural communities — both rural and urban.
“Being that Westerner Park is the third largest Ag Society in Alberta, I was trying to figure out how do you bring agriculture to our urban community?” she said. “What brings both rural and urban together is food. We all need it, want it and are interested in it.”
She added people are becoming much more concerned with how their food is produced.
“I think it has a lot to do with health,” she said. “We are really looking at how food is produced and what is going into it. When you start to learn more about it, then you start to think more about what we can do ourselves to produce something that is healthier for our families.
“I think it is fantastic that people are learning about where their food is coming from, how it is produced and how to preserve and take care of it. I would hate for society to lose that knowledge.”
She added, “All of the events are free, we are just asking that people register for the events on Tickets Alberta. We could definitely use volunteers and going forward I would like to double the size of the event.”