The Tri-Region has so many engaging experiences that it can be hard to decide on your next adventure. Sometimes keeping up to date with calendar events, like Alberta Open Farm Days, makes the decision-making process easier. Alberta Open Farm Days is an event held on the third week of August that concentrates on farming and ranching. It encourages urban and rural neighbours to visit local farms and learn more about the farmers and their products. It’s a great way to hear stories, see demonstrations, and even experience farm to table culinary events. This year, there were three host farms and one culinary experience participating in Alberta Open Farm Days in the Tri-Region. I’ve had the opportunity to experience several farms. My most recent adventure was a local nursery where I was taken aback on how much effort goes into growing a tree.
Most nurseries, when growing trees, have an 80% survival rate, but Kiwi Nurseries in Spruce Grove, Alberta, has an impressive 90-95% survival rate. And, their philosophy when it comes to this, you ask? If they can’t grow the tree themselves, they won’t sell them to the public. How awesome is that?
Kiwi Nurseries is a family owned and operated nursery just outside of Edmonton on Highway 16. Murray Monroe and his wife Alison moved to Alberta, from New Zealand, in 1976 and founded Kiwi Landscaping in 1979. In 1990, they purchased the land the nursery sits on today. As word spread about the quality of products they were providing, they formed Kiwi Nurseries Ltd., in 2003. Still owned by Murray and Alison, this business truly is ‘all in the family’ – both daughters, Kathryn and Ashleigh, are now a major part of this business.
While visiting Kiwi Nurseries for Open Farm Days, I got to take part in a tour of the major retail area. The tour starts with a walk through of one of their immediate retail trees. Majority of them range from 5-7 years old with some 10-year-old evergreens. Kiwi Nurseries is making purchasing trees easier by having their root system in wire baskets. Once a tree has been purchased, the staff at Kiwi Nurseries will go out and “tie the tree”. This process involves using a machine to wrap the trees from the ground up to make it easier to transport and plant your new tree. Wondering how much it will cost you to take home one of these trees? They start in the $300-range and can cost up to thousands of dollars.
Once I was done exploring the retail area, I headed to the nursery section to observe how the trees are planted and grown. There are rows and rows of trees, and the variety seems never-ending! Each tree has a coloured tag. The tag corresponds to what year the tree was planted; so they know if the tree has reached the proper age to be moved and replanted. Kiwi Nurseries uses a very specific method for growing their trees. The roots of the trees are bare – meaning there is no soil around the roots. This enables the trees to grow stronger.
Kiwi Nurseries is also starting to implement a new system of growing trees called the “Pod and Pot System”. This system is very cool to see in person. It takes three staff members working 10-hour-days to prepare two rows for the Pod and Pot System. Rows of pots are dug into the ground, where trees will be planted. Then, a black tarp covers the ground to keep the heat in allowing their roots to grow faster, as well as protecting the irrigation system from weather conditions and other potentially damaging factors. With this set-up, they will have thousands of trees planted by the time winter hits.