I MEET YOU THERE I The story of the farm begins in 1898, when the land that the farm sits on was first homesteaded by Franklin and Florence Pierce. Located along the Athabasca Landing Trail–a longdistance portage route that linked Fort Edmonton (modern day Edmonton) on the North Saskatchewan River with Athabasca Landing on the Athabasca River–the property became a shelter for travelers to stop and spend the night between destinations.
DOWN on the
FARM AS FARMING TECHNOLOGY
has progressed over the past century, the number of small family-run farms in Alberta has slowly been shrinking due to an increase in large corporateru n fa r ms. This has had a n impact on the connection that people once shared with their food, and in turn, has created a trend of people becoming more conscious about where it is that the food on their plate actually comes from. 18 T8Nmagazine.com 18 T8Nmagazine.com
However, what we know of today as Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm began in 1956, when the property was purchased by John and Sheena Chedzoy. The couple opened a tree nursery and garden centre on the farm which they operated until present owner, Tam Anderson, took over as head grower and farmer in 1984. Since then, Prairie Gardens has grown into an award-winning farm which annually welcomes over 50,000 visitors worldwide, turning Anderson into a well-known Alberta ambassador and pioneer for agritourism, local food, and value-added agriculture.
Every year, Prairie Gardens cultivates mass appeal BY RUDY HOWELL
Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm is an agritourism operation located 25 km north of Edmonton that has been taking advantage of this trend as a way to educate visitors on farm life and food production. As a working family farm, Prairie Gardens naturally grows 35 acres of produce intended for family dinner tables. The “adventure” refers to the available activities, events, and festivals that the farm offers throughout the year. Its goal is to connect visitors back to the land, to each other, and to a simpler time through providing local, healthy food and a place to explore, enjoy, and have good old-fashioned family fun.
“I grew up as a farmer’s daughter and didn’t realize how important that was to me until later in life,” says Anderson. “I decided I really wanted to grow plants, produce food, and share what I know and learn.” The star attraction of Prairie Gardens is by far the farming experience, Anderson says. Beginning each year in July, an activity called “U-Pick” offers visitors the opportunity to come to the farm and pick their own fruits and vegetables. Strawberry season runs from mid-July to early August; vegetable season begins in late July; sweet corn season runs from late August until frost; and pumpkin season runs Sept. 28-Nov. 2. As the world’s most northern commercial pumpkin grower, the farm dedicates 10 of its 35 acres to roughly 50 different kinds of pumpkins. Since 1984, Prairie Gardens has hosted its now famous annual Haunted Pumpkin Festival each fall where visitors can come dressed up in Halloween costumes and pick their own pumpkins.