Asparagus in Alberta

 

It’s springtime in Alberta and that means the first of our “post-snow” crops are ready for harvest!

Asparagus is a hardy member of the lily family and is one of the first Alberta fresh vegetables available to purchase from the garden in the spring.

Edgar Farms in Innisfail has the largest crops of asparagus in the province with 28 acres of asparagus – 21 acres actively picked. Although the Edgars also have angus beef, bean, and peas at their farm, they’re known for asparagus.

If you’ve never seen asparagus growing before, it does look strange, like little green fingers sticking out of the ground, and these carts, seen below, are used to pick the asparagus and immerse them in water.

The window for harvesting asparagus is very small and can be challenging in Alberta. Asparagus love heat, which is great in other climates, but in Alberta can be hit and miss in the spring.  At Edgar Farms they start picking in May and go until early June.

 

Asparagus Facts

  • It can take up to four years for asparagus to be ready to harvest when growing from seed.
  • Asparagus love heat! In Alberta when the sun goes down and it becomes colder, asparagus stops growing. The cooler temperatures at night “…increases the sugar content and makes it sweeter”
  • Asparagus is related to onions, leeks, and garlic.
  • White asparagus comes from the same plant as green asparagus, but it is grown underground to block sunlight and prevent photosynthesis.
  • Asparagus is a nutrient-packed vegetable. It is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as chromium.
  • Asparagus has been known to grow wild in Alberta. It is thought that this “wild” asparagus, or as Kevin Kossawan has named it “feral asparagus,” is from an old homestead or garden. It has been spotted in the River Valley in Edmonton.

 

Edgar Farm Asparagus Festival

Dates: May 26, June 2 and June 9.

Time: 10am-4pm rain or shine

Admission: $5, kids 5 and under Free.

Free parking

Love asparagus? Edgar Farms is hosting the 2019 Asparagus Festival is back for another year. There are lots of activities to partake in including visiting a real working asparagus farm, a fun wagon ride to the field to watch harvesting in action. Food trucks will be on site for lunch and don’t forget to bring a cooler for purchasing pies, all natural beef and of course, asparagus.

If you’re bringing your children there will be activities for them too including face painting visiting the farm animals, and playing in the bale maze.

Photo Courtesy of Edgar Farms

Recipes

Edgar Farms have many different recipes for asparagus which you can find on their blog. Other Albertan food writers have written about asparagus recipes, but we love this one from Julie Van Rosendaal using local cheese and prosciutto.

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