Heartland Farm hosted their annual Open Farm Day after a one-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. In order to limit the number of guests on the Farm at any one time, Farm staff decided to make a change from the traditional come-and-go format to an individual session format for which individuals and groups were asked to register in advance.
The day was split into five, 90-minute sessions, each with a special activity or presentation. Guests could choose sessions on alpaca fiber and spinning with Sr. Mary Ellen Dater, the benefits of grass-fed beef, and the Highland cattle breed. Christi Abel, Heartland Farm’s operations coordinator and her husband brought a Highland cow and her calf. They allowed people to feed the cow range cubes, and Christi presented the sessions on beef and Highlands. The most popular scheduled options, however, were the two sessions during which visitors could walk an alpaca on a lead with the guidance of our volunteers. Alpaca walking is a new activity on Heartland Farm, one that the staff intends to make a permanent option available for visitors.
Guests had more than the scheduled sessions to pique their interests. Sr. Imelda Schmidt and Sr. Theresa Fox, moved gift shop items to tables outside, allowing Covid-appropriate, outdoor shopping. Additionally, one of the area, small-scale, sustainable meat and poultry farms manned a vendor booth. Other manned tables provided information on the local county foundation, on the upcoming farmers’ market season, and on the mission of Heartland Farm and the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Visitors could also feed alfalfa to the alpacas and walk the orchard, the main garden, and the nature trails. An educational version of the film Kiss
the Ground was available for viewing. Finally, Sr. Jane Belanger provided
her expertise to guests who had questions.
Seventy guests attended the restructured Open Farm Day, which allowed the Farm both to see some long-standing friends and to make some new ones!
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