Westerner Park received a first place award from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions for their Urban Farm project.
The award was the Division 1, Category 6 award that goes to a non-fair related agriculture event or program.
“The award is pretty exciting for the fact that we have been recognized as a leader in our industry among all the other leaders in the industry,” Christian Sturgeon, agricultural events sales and production coordinator, said. “It is pretty fantastic and we were honoured to accept the award among so many other great Ag Societies.”
Sturgeon said she wanted to create an urban farm that would connect urban dwellers to agriculture.
“I wanted to create something where someone could take a look at something and see something they could take home, even if they just have a balcony or a condo-sized back yard,” she said.
“Just because you live in a city, doesn’t mean agriculture doesn’t affect you. It affects all of us.”
The first aspect of the Westerner Park Urban farm was the actual farm site.
Sturgeon said it was important to create an urban farm that families could take home with them.
“Everything was planted in raised beds, which are called wicking beds,” she said. “What they do is make it so you only have to water once per week. Wicking beds are great for people who are really busy and forget to water. It makes it easy to take care of your plants. A hundred percent of what we had grown was going back to the community.”
The second part of the Urban Farm project was the Urban Farm Festival, which brought in workshops and retail opportunities for attendees.
“We had urban hens, urban bees, growing techniques, canning and food preservation — just a whole bunch of different workshops,” Sturgeon said. “When they were done their workshops they could go around and shop. There was everything there for people to go home and start doing what they learned.”
The third aspect of the Urban Farm project was the Long Table Dinner, which was a celebration of the entire project.
“That was about showcasing locally grown and locally sourced produce. We created an amazing meal and wrapped up the whole program,” Surgeon added.
Despite finishing in first place this year, Sturgeon said Westerner Park intends to improve the Urban Farm project for next year.
“We found the community really responded to the workshops. That is something I want to expand on with so many more opportunities,” she said. “The festival will get better and the Urban Farm site will keep growing. I have been talking to some schools to come in and do some planting.
“The more that program grows, the more we can give back to the community in terms of what we produce.”
Sturgeon added, “Being recognized by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions is truly an honour. It helps us know our Ag program is going in the right direction.”