Tom Petruniak and Mary Thiessen had a dream. A dream that came true in the form of the farm they purchased together in 2014. When the couple first toured the property, located 1 hour west of Edmonton, the vision they shared was ignited into reality.
“The location was perfect – it’s right off the highway,” said Tom. “It’s 100% asphalt, no rocks or gravel, which was important to us in order to be accessible to all ages and abilities. Simply put, the land spoke to us, and we felt a complete sense of serenity here.”
Their goal is to share the serenity they find in farm life with others, in a way that educates people on how to live off the land. The property boasts an orchid-filled with a multitude of berries and vegetables that include robust rows of haskaps, strawberries, and Russian blue potatoes. Even corn and asparagus are grown here. Mary preserves the fruits and vegetables, making salsas, jams, and pickled vegetables to sell them at the store that Tom built beside their garden.
In addition to farmland, the property also has a campground, which means the farm experience doesn’t have to end at the orchid. Tom plans on opening up more trails surrounding the campground to further help market the farm to people who are looking to step back from the hustle and bustle of city life. Even if it’s only for a short while, Tom explains, “When you walk outdoors you can hear the birds, you can hear the creek… there’s just so much to see and so much to do, you can’t help but feel a sense of peace and calm when you are out here.”
Tom and Mary hope to make their farm a destination, “We don’t want to compete with our neighbours who have similar goals, we want our farm to be a communal place to stop on the way to visiting other farms in the neighbourhood.” Within 10 km of Cold Creek Farm & Campgrounds, you’ll find a plethora of farms that grow fruit, veggies, and even a few dairy farms. “We are trying to create a true sense of what a community is – and show everyone that we can all prosper together.”
Cold Creek Farm & Campgrounds first opened their farm to the public in 2017, participating in Alberta Open Farm the following year as a way to gain visibility within the local community. As busy farmers, owners Tom and Mary found that they often didn’t have time to network, something they knew that they needed to do in order for their farm to thrive. Alberta Open Farm Days proved to be a great way for them to meet their neighbours and make meaningful connections that lasted long after August.
“[Alberta Open Farm Days] felt like an all-day picnic to us, we were outside all day socializing and showing participants our farm – it was such a fantastic experience!” said Tom, who is currently making plans to host a picnic style lunch on his farm during this year’s Alberta Open Farm Days. “The first year we weren’t sure what to expect, so we just went with it, but this year we are planning on choreographing the details out a bit more.”
The couple has subsequent plans to expand by opening their property up as a B&B, a vision that Mary saw the first time she set foot in the farm’s grand house. “We want to educate people and show them how to see the beauty of what life has to offer when everything around them is typically chaotic. It’s peaceful, quite country that will always bring you back to solitude and serenity when you are here. We want people to be curious – it’s how brilliance is born. Our farm truly is a little surprise at the end of the road, and we can’t wait to show it off again during this summer’s Alberta Open Farm Days.”