PONTIAC – About 430 people attended the 2013 UPA Open House event at Ferme Lavender Ridge, September 8. Proprietors Joanne Labadie and Doug Briden welcomed their guests with a festive market scene in the front yard of their charming century farmhouse. Artists, crafters, musicians, including pianist Carson Becke of Venturing Hills, supported many local food producers also taking part in the day. McMillans Beef, Songberry Organic Produce, Semples Honey and Muddy Hands Winery were present explaining their operations and products to interested crowds.
“The day is an effort to promote agriculture with both urban and rural people,” said Isabelle McComeau from Shawville’s MAPAQ office describing why Open Door days are so important. “Surprisingly, few know what kinds of farms we have here and the extraordinarily diverse kinds of crops and produce that come from this area. Often our concept of what we consider a farm might be challenged”.
A strolling town crier helped guide visitors between workshops and displays, including a grape crushing demonstration, an explanation of wine tasting and a high speed, bare-footed, grape stomping race. “Supporting our local producers not only gives us fresh and nutritious foods and quality items, but every dollar spent here results in a stronger agricultural economy,” said McComeau.