Sturgeon County ready to show off agricultural diversity

By Stephen Dafoe

Sturgeon County – Residents, businesses and government officials will have an opportunity next month to tour some of the County’s farms and businesses to see firsthand the diversity of value added agriculture opportunities that exist in the area.

Ag Services will hold its annual bus tour Aug. 2, a day-long excursion that will make a variety of stops in different parts of the County, each providing tourists the chance to see Sturgeon County is more than canola and cows.
“Anglea Veenstra, Sturgeon County’s Agricultural Officer, said the tour started off some years ago as an opportunity for producers to look at different crops. “It’s kind of evolved into something where we highlight a lot of the agri-tourism stops in the County [and] a lot of the value-added ag businesses, people who actually do processing of the various crops in the County,” she said, noting there are also stops of general interest along the way. “This year we are going to CFB Edmonton. We’re still firming up the details, but we are hoping to turn it into a lunch stop because they have wonderful cooks there from our experience.” But the CFB stop will not be solely about military cuisine. Veenstra said the tour will include a visit to the base stables and community gardens. “Those are the two spots of interest that Troy [Grant], our [General Manager] thought would be of interest, so we thought we’d go with that.”

Value-added along the way

The daytrip will commence with a visit to Mountain Meadows Food Processing, a business located near Legal that manufactures No-Nuts pea butter, an alternative to peanut butter. “They’re going to let us go in their viewing gallery and they are going to do some processing that day,” Veenstra explained. “They’re also going to make us some of their recipes that they make with the pea butter to try out. That should be interesting.”
The next stop on the ag tour will be the McGuire Museum, an historical location that has assembled together approximately 100 antique tractors. “A lot of them have some local history involved with them,” Veenstra said, noting some of the farm equipment is a century old. “We thought that would be pretty interesting to a lot of people who participate in our tour. He’s going to take us on a guided tour of all his tractors that he has out there in the Gibbons area.”

Additional stops will include a visit to the University of Alberta Research Station and a visit to Spech Tech Farms, a bison farm within Sturgeon County. “It’s something a little different than the cattle people are used to,” Veenstra said. “If the weather’s good, we are going to be able to go out into the pasture and take a look at some of their bison.”

Space still available

Veenstra and her department believe those who take the tour will be impressed with what they see. “It is a huge challenge to come up with new stops every year,” she said, adding thus far they have been able to keep the tour fresh so those who like to return each year get to see something new.
The ag officer anticipates representatives from the province, retired and active farmers, and acreage owners will take the tour, but is hoping other area residents will attend as well to see what is in their backyard. “We are finding we are having more and more people from the acreages or even from the communities in Sturgeon County joining us on the tour,” Veenstra said.

The trip departs from the Morinville Community Cultural Centre at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 2, returning around 4:30 p.m. that afternoon. The annual ag tour is followed by a dinner banquet where Sturgeon County awards and recognizes century farm families as well as presents the annual Farm and Acreage Beautification Awards.

Cost of the full day’s activities, including the banquet, is $20 per person. Those wishing to attend only the tour or only the banquet pay $10 per person. Although the County tries not to turn anyone away, it is preferred those interested in attending preregister by July 26. They can do so by contacting Anita at 780-939- 8349.

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