By Cal Braid
Sunny South News
Open Farm Days was an Alberta-wide, two-day event that was a tip of the hat to Alberta’s producers. It offered customers a chance to see farmers on their own turf. Over one hundred producers throughout province opened their farms to the public over the weekend.
Crystal Springs Cheese Ltd. is a cheese factory and dairy farm located just east of Park Lake. On Aug. 13, they hosted a Farm Days event which included multiple vendors, as well as free access and tours of their facilities.
Evert and Jannie Beyer bought the company in May of 2005. According to their website, “The first few years (were) spent working on feta and gouda, expanding the company customer base, and perfecting the art of making cheese. Crystal Springs has been a labour of love and a family passion.” Along with founder Evert, sons Jacco and Harvey operate the cheese factory, and son Theo oversees the dairy farm. Sister Jocelyn works part-time, and Bernice has been helping during the summer of 2022.
In 2010, Jacco took the cheese making course at the University of Guelph. On Farm Day, he looked at home and in charge on the production floor and was friendly as he interacted with groups of visitors. The cheese factory was full of stainless-steel equipment and impressive in its order and cleanliness, required visitors to don a hair net and sanitize their footwear before entering.
The original facility was 7000 square feet. In 2014, they expanded it to 14,000 square feet and added a large yogurt vat. The newest addition is a 650 square foot deli and retail space, added in 2018.
The event at Crystal Springs featured factory tours and demonstrations by Jacco, as well as a map for self-guided a tour of the dairy operation. Theo greeted visitors in the dairy barn, the home to “100 happy cows’’ and some young calves.
On site in the front lot, the Piggyback Poutinerie had a food truck open, the Dutch Grill Ltd. served samples of their meat products, My Oma Always Canning Co. sold their goods, and Little Gem Winery offered tastings for the adults. A Kinder Farm Toys table was also open. Over in the deli and retail shop, a variety of cheeses were available in small bites, and dozens of local food and beverage products were on sale. Ice-cream was a popular choice on the sweltering day and served up by the girls at the deli counter.
For any family that had to pick only one stop on Farm Days, this was an excellent choice. It was a great way to learn more about the many contributions of their rural neighbours.