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Throughout the pandemic, tourism operators across the province have shown incredible resilience, tenacity and innovation.

One such operator is Chatsworth Farm in east central Alberta, where Charlotte Wasylik began offering livestream farm tours for hundreds of viewers early in the pandemic.

Charlotte Wasylik

“For us, the animals are an everyday part of our lives, but for others it might be something really unique and exciting,” says the second-generation farmer.

Wasylik was recently recognized on Canadian Western Agribition’s Top 50 Most Influential People list as a finalist in the upstarts category, which acknowledges future leaders of agriculture who promote the industry in non-traditional ways or are early adopters of new ideas.

Wasylik brought Chatsworth Farm—including livestream favourites, bottle-fed calves Hershey and Kiss—into the homes of people who didn’t have the same opportunities she did to disconnect from the uncertainty of the pandemic by coming home to the farm to ride a horse, scratch a calf on the head, or raise a fluffy brood of chicks. Her virtual farm tours are packed with agriculture facts and close-ups with many of the more than 1,000 animals on the farm.

Last summer, Chatsworth Farm moved beyond virtual tours to participate in Alberta Open Farm Days for the first time. With health and physical distancing precautions in place, the Wasyliks welcomed many people who had learned about them through the livestreams. After a visitor suggested a farm visit subscription pack, that idea became a reality with Chatsworth Farm Through the Seasons, a seasonal subscription for a peek into activities including harvest, calving and lambing seasons.

This summer, for $20 per person ($10 for children 5-10, free under 5), visitors will get a chance to take a trip off the farm to Chatsworth’s summer pastures to watch the cattle graze along the Vermilion River, enjoy a campfire, and learn about moving cattle off the farm. And Chatsworth Farm will once again participate in Open Farm Days this August.

These experiences all stemmed from Wasylik’s creativity and innovation—turning on her phone’s camera and sharing a thoughtful behind-the-scenes look at her family business.

“If you’re passionate and you have fascinating things to talk about, you can kind of make anything interesting and people are willing to listen,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to promote yourself in that way too.”

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