Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm is a 35-acre working farm outside Edmonton with a garden centre, U-pick strawberries, homegrown vegetables, a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, a sunflower maze, a petting farm, and other fun farm activities. The farm’s award-winning culinary tourism adventures include gourmet farm-to-table long-table dinners, cooking classes, and several entertaining and quirky on-farm festivals and events. The farm also hosts rustic weddings and is home to the most northerly blue pumpkin patch in the word.
We interviewed owner Tam Andersen about what helped her business stay resilient during the challenges of COVID-19, and how tourism in Alberta can recover and grow even stronger post-pandemic.
What helped you stay resilient over the past year, and how has your business evolved?
More than anything, we need to grow as a community to integrate new, life-honouring guiding principles. We need to become a practice ground to be more resilient and caring – aligned with the needs and limits of our lands and our home – this gentle blue planet Earth. We would like to thank our visitors for caring enough to support a local farm, and for taking an active role in helping create a local food system, by visiting, purchasing local food, and supporting local. For embracing local thrivability! Moving from the compromises of sustainability, we thank our guests and supporters for letting us tap into our passion and creativity, ever seeking opportunities for connection and contribution. And so, if I might offer up my one last rallying cry, it is this: the more of us who embrace and begin living, caring, and acting on a local level, the more likely we all are to reach our common purpose to honour this beautiful planet we live on.
What is the most inspiring story or moment you have seen or experienced over the past year?
It's the small things – just yesterday a family dropped out to the farm for some outdoor time and garden inspiration. While mom was snapping photos of all the lovely blossoms, her son was captivated by a cute ladybug toy, but he knew he shouldn't touch. Another visitor noticed this, and slipped up to the counter, paid for the toy, gave one to the boy to play with, and left with a wave and smile. This brought tears to my eyes! Joy comes in unexpected ways.
What are your hopes for the future of Alberta’s tourism industry? How will your business play a role in that?
I hope for slow and steady recovery, with amazing new local experiences for folks to engage in.
Our farm has established a unique collaboration with a group of chefs. The chefs love our produce and beautiful outdoor spaces. Collaboratively, we are building a new outdoor kitchen to support private chef's table dinners and outdoor cooking classes.
Albertans have played a key role in keeping many tourism businesses afloat during the pandemic. Why should Albertans continue to explore the province even when it’s possible to travel elsewhere?
Between coronavirus, climate change, and all the systems they impact, there is no scenario in which the ground gently rises up to hold us as it has done for so long. This is the moment when we either grow to learn or we come crashing down. Recovering from a pandemic involves more than simple fixes, like planting potatoes, agritourism task forces, CERB, or community gardens.
What is the most important thing you want Albertans to know about the value of the province’s tourism industry?