Alberni Valley farm tours offered for Family Farm Day

<p>Shayne Morrow examines a tomato in the alleyway behind the Seventh Avenue Urban Farm. ELENA RARDON PHOTO</p> -

Shayne Morrow examines a tomato in the alleyway behind the Seventh Avenue Urban Farm. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

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Alberni Valley residents will be able to tour their local farms during the seventh annual Family Farm Day on Sunday, Sept. 17.

"Nine farms are going to be part of the program this year, which is great, because last year we had six," said Healthy Harvest Farm horticulture program coordinator Anna Lewis.

Some of these are returning farms, but some are new to the program. A special feature for the seventh annual event is the Seventh Avenue Urban Farm (2727 Seventh Avenue)—an urban garden where vegetables spill over into the alleyways and front boulevard.

"We're just taking a shot with what we've got," said Shayne Morrow, who runs the farm with his wife, Jeanne.

Morrow found that the light distribution in his yard was fairly poor, so he had to build it up to get plants into the sunlight. Raised beds are built from repurposed materials, using everything from bricks from the demolished Somass hotel and lumber from the McLean Mill, to old garbage cans and Zellers bags.

Morrow also has a piece of land he calls "the boulevard" located on city property. He plants vegetables that deer don't like—leeks, parsnips, chard, arugula and certain types of squash. His garden also spills over into the alleyway shared by his neighbours.

"You have to rely on nice neighbours," he laughed.

The urban garden feature is part of a grow local grant that the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District received earlier this year.

Read: $25k for ACRD to 'grow local'

"It's about helping people grow more food in whatever space they have available," said Lewis. "We want to show people what they can do right in town."

Family Farm Day is a free event, family-oriented and self-guided, allowing people to explore their local farms on Sunday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will be recipe books available, activities for children, farm tours and fresh farm products available to purchase. The Alberni Valley Bulldogs will also be volunteering to assist with parking and answering questions.

"It allows the farmers to showcase what they have," said Lewis. "Families can pick and choose which farms they want to go to. You can take your time and see what different farms have to offer."

Visitors can check out Arrowvale Farm (5955 Hector Road), which features an integration of a campground, as well as a petting zoo. Hay rides will also be available on Sunday.

Leda Organic Farm (4361 Batty Road) will be giving demonstrations of their compost program and tours of their garden.

Coleman Meadows Farm (6670 Coleman Road), home to Vancouver Island water buffalo, will feature a tour of the milk parlour and taste tests of the water buffalo products.

Some of the other farms featured this year include Cottonwood Farm, the Dry Creek Community Gardens, Eden Tree Farm & Gardening, Hupacasath Community Garden and Healthy Harvest Farm.

"Every year we notice there's more people coming out," said Lewis.

A full program and map of the tours is now available at or from the Echo Centre, the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce or the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District Office.

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