Once a year, farmers across Alberta throw open their doors and invite the public into their way of life through Alberta’s Open Farm Days, and this year was no different.
Primrose Farms, south of Big Valley, is one of the farms that opened to the public as part of the celebration of Alberta’s agricultural life. They welcomed guests on Sunday, Aug. 21.
The farm, which is mostly dedicated to dairy, is operated by Cornel and Cremona Primrose. The bright red and white barns have the quintessential “farm life” look, but that’s where the old-fashioned ends with the pair.
Dedicated to raising their Fleckvieh cows humanely, free of antibiotics, GMOs and hormones, the Primroses carefully select their feed — when they don’t grow it themselves. Using cutting-edge milking technology, the cows are kept loose in the barn and are able to choose when they want to be milked — and just walk into an automatic milking machine that cleans the udder and milks the cow automatically — before giving the cow a treat.
The Primrose pair are both farm-bred; he on a grain and cattle operation near Big Valley, and she on a dairy and grain operation near Erskine. For them, farm life is normal life, but they’re under no illusions about how the urban residents of Canada view farming.
Challenging what is often seen as a cruel and contained life, full of medications and chemicals, is important to the Primrose farmers, and Open Farm Days is the perfect chance to educate those from the urban centres.
As people showed up — some as individuals, some as families — Cornel or Cremona Primrose would take them on guided tours, offering up gallons of information about their trade and the care they provided for their animals, as well as answering questions.
Some lucky attendees this year had the unique opportunity to watch a newborn calf, born that day in the calving section of the barn.
For the past several years, the farm has been seeking a licence to be able to sell its products on site, and this year, they received the long-sought permission. Visitors to the farm were thus able to sample freshly pasteurized whole milk, which was pasteurized on site by Cornel and Cremona.
Being able to sell their product right at the farm, and see their label on milk jugs, has long been a dream of Cornel Primrose, one he shared with the Independent last year at Alberta’s Open Farm Days. While much of the milk collected at Primrose Farms still makes its way into the Alberta supply management system, which combines milk from multiple sources, being able to sell only Primrose milk is the next step in catering to their clientele, Primrose said.
As consumers become increasingly interested in where their food originates, systems like Alberta’s supply management program become outdated. People want to buy milk from producers they know and trust, and the management system eliminates that element, Cornel Primrose explained earlier.
This year marked the third year taking part in Alberta’s Open Farm Days for the dairy, which has continued to expand over the years. In addition to dairy cows, the farm also raises cows, chickens, ducks, and turkeys. With their licence, the farm is now able to sell products from those animals, too.