UPPER STEWIACKE – Shauna Curtis had a greater appreciation of farms as she watched her three young children excitedly run toward the animals, eager to learn all they could about farm life.
“Do you know what a chicken lives in?” Curtis, of Shubenacadie, asked her eight-year-old daughter Addisen during Open Farm Day on Sunday at Cochrane Family Farm in Upper Stewiacke.
After telling her daughter the correct answer was a chicken coop, they ventured toward an 800-pound boar named Stanley, where a number of people were gathering in amazement.
“This is great. It’s good to see what’s in our communities and to see what other lifestyles are,” said Curtis, adding it’s a learning opportunity for all ages. “It’s good to see where our food comes from too.”
An estimated 70 people visited the Upper Stewiacke farm yesterday. It was one of 60 farms in Nova Scotia that opened its doors to the public as a way to meet farmers, learn about farm life and tour local facilities.
Stewiacke’s Cory Hyslop said he learned just as many unique things about farm animals as the children did.
“I couldn’t believe the boar was 800 pounds and I didn’t know they don’t sweat and that’s why they love the mud … because it’s a way to cool off,” said Hyslop.
Hyslop said Open Farm Day is an ideal way to remind the public just how much work goes into operating a farm, something that many people take for granted.
“It’s important to know the work that goes into farming. You go to a grocery store and don’t realize where it came from and what had to be done to get it there,” added Krista Fletcher, also of Stewiacke.
Frank Cochrane, owner of Cochrane Family Farm, said it was the first year he participated in the provincial event. He was pleased to see the enthusiasm from the community and was eager to share some important farming messages with others.
“People look at produce and say they can get it cheaper elsewhere. But ours is naturally raised and organic and it doesn’t come without work and a price,” said Cochrane of the work that goes into his seven-year-old farm, which is 13.5 acres and boasts of goats, chicken, boars, honey bees, vegetables and sheep.
“My message is that I’d like to see people stop buying outside of the (Canadian) border. When products come from outside instead of from farmers here, there’s something wrong.”
Cochrane said people often ask just how much work goes into farming. He said it’s a case of “never getting it all done” and for his farm, it’s now manned by him and his wife Lisa, their four older children, up to six volunteers and one employee.
And sometimes Mother Nature adds to the workload. During last week’s flooding, Cochrane lost three fields of vegetables that were all submerged in floodwaters.
Open Farm Day also served as a reminder of just how prevelant farming is in the province. In Nova Scotia, about 3,900 farms are in operation, employing about 5,200 people. In 2011, the industry generated about $539 million in farm cash receipts and $229 million in international exports.