By Brianna Yee

The Cochrane Farmers’ Market had another successful Saturday this past weekend with warm sunshine and clear skies—the ideal weather for our outdoor Market. It was also an important day for the Market as the Agriculture and Forestry Minister, Devin Dreeshen, stopped by to browse the Market offerings and meet with some of the local vendors. The visit allowed him to engage with Market management and vendors at an Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market, a designation the Cochrane Market has held since 1998.

Minister Dreeshen’s roots in the agriculture community run deep. He is a fifth-generation farmer, and his family continues to farm near Pine Lake, Alberta.  Prior to being elected to Alberta’s Legislature, Minister Dreeshen was a director of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association.

Since his appointment to the Agriculture and Forestry portfolio 2019, Minister Dreeshen has been advocating for further awareness regarding products made by Albertans. In recent weeks, he has helped push for labels that highlight the contributions of Albertans with the creation of a “Made in Alberta, by Albertans” label that local companies can use on their products to set them apart from the rest.

“Alberta is known as a place that produces safe, high-quality food,” Minister Dreeshen says.  “These days, people want to know where their food comes from. When you buy Alberta food, you are supporting another Alberta family. It keeps money in your community and in our province.”

Almost all of the items available at the Cochrane Farmers’ Market are handcrafted, made or grown in Alberta, so it was important to Minister Dreeshen to visit the vendors and participate in a round table discussion with some of the small business owners.

In addition to sharing thoughts on the Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market program, the group discussed a range of issues facing Alberta producers at this time including the impact of climate change and extreme weather events, crop insurance, local food security, sustainable production methods, and the importance of stakeholder collaboration in supporting and promoting Alberta producers and Alberta Approved Farmers’ Markets.

“Minister Dreeshen’s visit was a unique opportunity to underscore the essential role farmers’ markets play in maintaining local food chains,” says volunteer Valerie McCracken, the Market Manager.  “These markets provide a critical space and place to foster local economic development through business incubation, customer direct sales, and the promotion of agricultural diversification.

You can read more about Made in Alberta, by Albertans by visiting this link.

(photos by Thomas Yee)