Published on September 18, 2013
Alison and Ken MacGillivary of Oakfield took their children, five-month-old Keir and two-year-old Ivy, to Open Farm Day for the first time this year. They enjoyed a wagon ride and some apple picking at Gates U-Pick in Port Williams. – Kirk Starratt, www.kingscountynews.ca
Published on September 18, 2013
Emma Parsons of Bridgewater bites into an apple fresh off the tree at Gates U-Pick in Port Williams. Emma and her family were visiting the u-pick as part of Open Farm Day. – Kirk Starratt, www.kingscountynews.ca
By Kirk Starratt
Kings County residents had a chance to meet the people who produce their food and enjoy a plethora of fun agri-tourism experiences last weekend.
Open Farm Day was held at 51 farms across Nova Scotia on Sept. 15, including several in Kings County.
Alison and Ken MacGillivary of Oakfield took their children, two-year-old Ivy and five-month-old Keir, to Open Farm Day for the first time this year. They were enjoying a wagon ride and some apple picking at Gates U-Pick in Port Williams.
Alison said she thinks it’s very important to support local farmers and expose their children at an early age to all the fun things to do on farms.
“It’s a great way to have a family day,” she said.
Ken said they enjoy eating local produce and it’s great to help keep jobs in the Maritimes.
“It’s nice that the farmers put it on for us,” he said. “It must be a lot of work for them.”
Supported by the federal and provincial governments, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and other agricultural groups, the event is intended to raise awareness of local agriculture and the benefits of buying local food.
Farm owners Doug and Marianne Gates have wagon rides and people are invited to experience the u-pick on Open Farm Day.
“We’ve been participating for quite a few years,” Marianne said. “It’s busier than it would be without it.”
Marianne said they’re open throughout September and October, but they find the weekends the busiest. Daughter Johanna helps out quite a bit. It gets progressively busier every weekend until Thanksgiving, their busiest weekend, but they notice a definite spike on Open Farm Day. Marianne said it’s great to visit in early- to mid-September because you can pick both apples and pears.
She said most of their clientele are people with families coming for the experience as much as for the fruit. On Open Farm Day, they get a lot of people asking questions and wanting to learn about what they do. Especially for visitors from the city, it’s a chance to see a working farm, interact with farmers and participate.
Doug said he’s glad the weather co-operated for Open Farm Day. He was busy taking visitors for wagon rides. He said people of all ages enjoy the rides, which they started doing about 20 years ago.
“I think it’s fantastic to see when they have a picnic and make it a family outing,” Doug said.
He said most people don’t realize how good an apple tastes when it’s picked fresh from the tree. Doug said they tell visitors about grafting and how they get different types of apples.
The Gates’ also have a pumpkin u-pick and they sell their apples, pears and pumpkins at their roadside stand.
In Nova Scotia, there are more than 3,900 farms employing about 6,000 people. Last year, the industry generated $585.5 million in farm cash receipts.