story by Joel Dryden
The Crossfield Agricultural Society is a fixture in Crossfield, hosting events, developing leaders and building community year-round. The society’s community-minded focus is made possible through the work of its volunteers, according to president Nicole Vandenberghe.
“We promote agricultural initiatives, community projects and events and leadership development opportunities for young people,” she said.
The organization’s mission statement informs a number of popular yearly events around Crossfield, including the Crossfield Farmers’ Market. Vandenberghe said the markets run at various times throughout the year, with the spring market kicking off in April.
“The Christmas and spring markets are held inside the (Crossfield & District Community Centre). Just over 100 people come out to take part. So there are over 100 vendors you can shop from,” she said. “And the summer market is growing, which is really good to see.”
A new addition to the markets last year was the Market Buds program, an initiative aimed at educating youth on local food.
“We’ll have that again this year, and that’s continuing to grow, so that’s really exciting,” Vandenberghe said.
The Crossfield Ag Society also hosts the Crossfield Christmas Light Contest each year during the holidays. Next year’s competition will look slightly different, Vandenberghe said, with revamped voting and updated maps in the works.
“We’re hoping to do a community vote instead of doing it on a volunteer basis,” she said. “We’re making it bigger and put more to the forefront, so people can actually get out and see who’s vying to win that first place position for Christmas lights.”
Members of the society are also a regular fixture at the annual Pete Knight Days pancake breakfast. Ag Society members serve pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausages to get the community ready for the big Pete Knight Days rodeo.
“That’s a really big event, and very well-attended, even on cold years,” Vandenberghe said. “And we’ve had a couple of those lately.”
A community garden is also provided by the Crossfield Ag Society, giving residents the chance to grow produce in a shared space. The community garden has remained popular since its introduction, according to Vandenberghe.
“You can rent a garden plot so you can actually have a garden if you don’t have much room at home,” she said. “I have a small garden at home and I do rent a plot so we can grow a little bit extra.”
Of course, members of the society are involved in the community year-round, even while events are not scheduled. Vandenberghe said the society actively partners with community groups and is always open to hearing new ideas.
The society also provides scholarship opportunities to post-secondary students and puts a big focus on developing youth leadership in the community. Whatever the initiative, it’s a focus on community that has continued to drive the Crossfield Ag Society. Vandenberghe said prospective members have always been encouraged to join to help build a vibrant local community.
“You can always sign up to help with one area,” she said. “If you are interested in just the garden program, you can just help with that. So that’s always great – we have people sign up for what they want to help with.”