Agriculture meets urban living at Westerner Park Urban Farm Festival in Red Deer

Acres and acres of land aren’t necessary to grow fresh produce and a festival over the weekend showed many how to create their own food.

For Christina Sturgeon, Westerner Park agriculture events sales and production coordinator, the challenge was taking agriculture and making it relevant to the urban community the Westerner serves.

“Agriculture and food is how I connected it,” she said. “That’s what it is: what you can you do to produce something your self, what can you source locally.

“We’re hoping to grow this into something amazing where people can really learn about growing and food preservation.”

Sunday’s urban farm festival was the second part of a three-part initiative from the Westerner Park. The first was an attempt to grow produce in the infield of the track on the Westerner grounds. Hail caused significant damage to the crops, but some survived and they will be donated to the Red Deer and District Food Bank.

Even though they lost some of the crop, it was set up to showcase the ways people could grow their own produce in an urban environment. Ten raised boxes, measuring four-feet by eight-feet, were used as well as growing potatoes in burlap sacks.

“Somebody coming here, even if they only have a condo with a little backyard, they can look at some piece of what we’re doing and take that home,” said Sturgeon.

The third part took place Sunday evening with a long table feast featuring a menu full of locally sourced ingredients prepared by Chef Emmanuel David, of Holiday Inn Hotels and Suites Boulevard restaurant.

The festival on Sunday featured many workshops on topics such as canning, urban bee keeping, urban chickens, gardening 101 and healthy homes.

Sturgeon pointed to bee keeping as one of the more unique ways people can create their own food in their homes and a gardening workshop with small container gardens.

“Even somebody with just a balcony can grow their own produce,” said Sturgeon. “Most people think of a garden as being this huge space with row after row after row. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Surrounding the workshops were local vendors, from honey producers to ReThink Red Deer and more.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

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