Women are leading the way at Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm.
The team at Prairie Gardens comprises 18 women in leadership positions from many diverse backgrounds, from plumbers to retired teachers.
Approximately 28 per cent of farm operators in Canada and 31 per cent of farm operators in Alberta are women. A growing number of women farm operators are experiencing success with smaller, niche farms and diversified farms that produce a variety of products. At Prairie Gardens, they do just that – offering strawberries and pumpkins, eggs, and plants at their local farm just north of Bon Accord.
Andersen has been engaged in agriculture since she grew up on a family farm in southern Alberta. Eventually, she made her way to the Edmonton area and purchased her own farm. She is a horticulturist and landscape journeyman with over 40 years of experience in the horticulture industry.
"I really love being able to develop and grow a business, and as it turned out, it was not just agriculture, it was a business that involved agri-tourism and value-added agriculture, and working with a lot of people on the farm," she said.
Her daughter, Laurel, has also become involved with the business. Laurel has over 20 years of experience in the agriculture, greenhouse, and agri-tourism industries. Laurel is a recent graduate from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Others include Jacky Usher, a NAIT red seal journeyman plumber and second-class gasfitter with 16 years of experience in the industry and 10 years of gardening experience.
Roveena Mecwan has a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Hotel Administration and is pursuing a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Alberta. She brings 16 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in the hospitality industry.
Several staff members are former educators, including Lindsay Richardson, Nora Nykipilo and Amber Miller. Andersen explained the extensive background in education staff the staff bring to the table is critical to Prairie Gardens.
"We're trying to reconnect people back to the land and where their food comes from," Andersen continued. "They bring with them that knowledge of how to instill curiosity and never stop the learning with people when they come to the farm."
Andersen added as women are the primary consumers and visitors to Prairie Gardens, having a female perspective in leadership roles is a strength for their business, adding women understand what other women are looking for.
Peggy Brekveld, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, predicts a continued decline of farmers across Canada but a slow rise in women farmers, especially in regions that led the way with higher proportions of female operators.