I had an awesome weekend. Really really awesome. At first it looked like last weekend might have been a flop. A trip to a garlic festival in BC was canceled last minute, leaving me very disappointed that I had no fun plans for my last free weekend in Alberta. But then I remembered another event I had heard about:
And so then within 24 hours I had a new fun weekend planned. I responded with this:
Lethbridge is just shy of four hours South of Red Deer. Not a short trip, but I figured out how to make it worthwhile. Since my initial research survey Synergy Permaculture Urban Farm has been on my radar, but they were located so far away in Lethbridge I couldn’t finagle a farm visit. Now I had an excuse to be in town! One top of that a friend of mine, Gavin, who works with Leaf & Lyre Urban Farms, my research site in Calgary, was heading home for the weekend to help with harvest. Good ole Gavin saw my dismay when my garlic fest trip was canceled and invited me out to ride a combine and check out a large scale canola and wheat operation. And just like that I had a jam-packed farmtastic weekend ahead of me!
Everything went smashingly. Josh of Synergy inspired me with his operation that combined two of my favorite things: permaculture and urban farming. I can’t say enough good things about Young Agrarians and the events they put on. Fork in the Rowed Farms hosted and presentations were given by Earthly Matters about compost and worm casting teas and soil enhansers, and a friend from another one of my research sites Grass Roots Family Farm presented on Holistic Management and farm-scale permauculture design. There was also an abundance of food, networking, home and local brewed beer, live music, and even a blacksmith! I can only hope that I find an organization that hosts great events like this back in Minnesota.
After the event, I drove to just outside the small town of Vulcan. Even though I arrived at about 10:30 at night, Gavin was still out in the combine. There was more farm work to be done, so I went out to meet them in the fields. After a bit of a wild goose chase/cellphone tag in the intense darkness and vastness of endless fields of wheat, barley, canola and little else, I met up with my friends and got to ride around in a hulking combine in the dead of night. It was a far cry from the permaculture urban farm I had visited earlier that day. It was great to get that range of experience within 12 hours!
The next day was rainy, so I wasn’t able to help out with any work, which was a shame. I did however get a farm tour including meeting a very friendly pet goat and other massive machines, and a tour of Vulcan. WHICH IS THE STAR TREK CAPITAL OF CANADA.
I’ll say I’m pretty pleased with myself and the universe for pulling together an excellent weekend last minute. I hope I can find ways continue engaging with local farmers when I’m back home and researching farms isn’t my full-time gig. But this is stuff is so fun, I doubt I’ll be able to keep myself away 😉
More awesome times are ahead with the Northern Alberta Permaculture Convergence around the corner. Come out to Stony Plain outside of Edmonton, Sept 16th-18th for permaculture workshops, delicious meals, networking and community building. You can learn some of what I learned through all of my farm visits and ask farmers questions at my Farmer to Permie panel discussion this Saturday at the Convergence.