BDC Small Business Week is a national celebration of Canadian entrepreneurs and their contribution to Canada’s economy. Events held during the week bring together entrepreneurs—and prospective entrepreneurs—at conferences, workshops, luncheons and trade fairs across Canada. Throughout October we’ll be profiling a few of Red Deer’s business owners.
The Edgars farm with their daughter and son-in-law and the family’s farming roots go way back. “Farming is what all our ancestors on both Doug’s and my side have always done since immigrating to Canada,” she says. “Doug’s great grandparents originally homesteaded at Priddis before coming to Innisfail in 1907. My grandparents settled west of Penhold and east of Innisfail to farm and raise their children on food produced on their farms. Quite different than now, back then all the work was done by hand and there was a farm family on every quarter section of land. Thanks to the hard work and determination of our ancestors, we have the freedom and choice to select a fascinating and uncontrollable crop to grow like asparagus that does its own thing in spite of all the great management and education we put into it.”
“Weather rules everything we as farmers do!” says Elna Edgar of Edgar Farms, just west of Innisfail. After carefully nurturing that first acre for 5 years to bring it to full production and marketing direct to our customers at farmers markets, we decided to further our daring venture and plant more,” says Edgar.
Asparagus grown in our cool Alberta climate has an incredibly intense, amazingly sweet flavour unrivalled by any imported asparagus grown in a hot climate. Being a spring producing plant, the best yields are accomplished in a hotter climate than Central Alberta but our cool central Alberta nights slow the growth of the spears and the coolness converts starches into sweetness making for incredible flavour!
To this day the weather regularly throws curve balls at the farm, the worst being the 2014 hail storm that hit their 50 acres of asparagus plants in all its summer mature glory. The storm beat back the fronds so badly that they put all their energy reserves into new production and weakened the roots so badly that they had extremely poor production the following spring much to the disappointment of their customers.
Four years later they were back up and running with a new field finally being able to be picked for a full season ending the end of June. Historically the latest Edgar Farms have started picking is May 24 and the earliest is April 17, but no matter when they start, they always have to stop near the end of June.
During their annual Asparagus Festival they have loads of family friendly activities to hopefully teach children that farmers feed people and food comes from farms. There are fully narrated wagon rides to the fields to witness hand picking, many opportunities to taste, lots of shopping and tons of other activities.