Every year in Québec, the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) organizes an open-house event to meet with Quebec’s farmers. This year, we are very proud to be one of three farms in our region to open our door to our neighbours. It’s an occasion for people unfamiliar with farming to visit, ask questions, and learn about what life and work on a farm mean.
We have been prepping for the event on September 10 for weeks now (because, of course, everything needs to be perfect). I feel like the farm is like fruit on display at the grocery store – it needs to look its best for shoppers. We repainted what wasn’t fresh enough, cut the grass in a ditch that stretches over 1 km long, and deep-cleaned the barn. We are now setting up the farmyard where we’ll have tents from various partners in the area.
It is very important to us that we showcase the many partners that help our farm function properly. Too often, farmers and dairy farmers particularly, appear to be alone in making decisions about the feeding of the cows and crops in the fields. In truth, constant innovation and R&D are done in collaboration with other professionals who assist us daily.
We’ve decided to partner with Domaine du Roy Foundation Health and Social Services, so all proceeds from the day will go to support the important work it does. We will have hot dogs and corn on sale during the day for visitors to buy – although we’re still waiting for our permit from the government of Québec! We got the permit to sell alcohol just this morning and the Chouape, a local brewery, is joining us for the day. We’ve made a bar out of old barn wood that we use every time we hold an event. The new garage will be where the tables and chairs will be. Its 42-foot-wide door will be open and people in the garage will be able to see the whole farmyard. The Foundation will have 10 volunteers at the farm all day to prepare the food and serve the public. We will also have 20 volunteers for security and entertainment.
We will have inflatable games for kids, wagon tours in the fields, barn tours, and my partner’s oldest cousin will entertain in front of the ancestral house and talk about the history of the family. They came here in 1915 and raised 14 kids whom all got higher education – a feat not common for a farming family at that time. You can imagine that there are many anecdotes to be told about the family. The house is now home to our Guatemalan seasonal workers (who apparently saw a ghost last year in the kitchen – I don’t know if this story will be told!). People will park in the Alfalfa field (we won’t need the third cut so this land will be the car park). We got our Lely full-scale decorative cow, (a cow that’s given to farms with 3 + milking robots, we have 4) and it will be an attraction for kids and the young at heart to pose for pictures with her.
As you can probably tell, it will be a very busy day at the farm. We are expecting between 1,000 to 2,000 people to visit the farm and we are super excited! We have ordered a buffet for all the volunteers at the end of the day. We will eat together, debrief on the day’s events, laugh, and relax. We are very excited to open our doors, and to get a chance to talk about dairy farming. Farming life is tough but a day like this reminds us all that it is worth it.