The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

The Bowden SunMaze invites visitors to come out and get lost

sunflowerthumbEagle Creek Farms, located outside of Bowden, Alta., offers day-trippers a variety of activities, all with an educational spin designed to bring visitors closer to the food they consume.

The farm is situated 126 km from Calgary and features a petting zoo filled with donkeys, miniature horses, a pot bellied pig and chickens, as well as a corn maze and one of Canada's few sunflower mazes.

Farm operator, John Mills – or as he is known to his visitors, Farmer John – returned to his family farm six years ago and is the driving force behind the mazes and u-pick gardens. Shortly after the operation got underway, educational aspects were incorporated into the maze trips.

"When we began giving school tours we found that many aspects of the farm are foreign to most people who visit, so we decided to incorporate education to inform visitors about the food they eat and what we have to offer on the farm."

Upon arrival visitors are given a quiz and are encouraged to hunt for clues throughout their maze adventure. The quizzes revolve around meat and veggies and are designed to educate people about the food they consume in their daily lives.groupfarmThe farm features a shaded picnic area full of fun activities and a petting zoo where families can sit back and relax after completing the corn and sunflower mazes. Photo: Taryn Hajnrych

But by no means do the educational aspects detract from the fun that can be had during a visit to the farm. The corn and sunflower mazes — collectively spanning 12 acres — can take up to two hours to complete and offer countless routes for visitors to explore.

"The cool thing about our farm is that we incorporate fun into the activities of the mazes and farm animals, because I believe the best way to engage children with food is by making it fun," Mills said.

After completing the maze adventures, families can kick back and relax in the picnic area that features the petting zoo, kid-friendly activities and large patches of shaded green grass for big kids to enjoy some rest.

Mills said he believes that "families enjoy that we have something for everyone; the mazes and farm animals for the kids, the u-pick flowers and vegetables for the adults — although, the u-pick potatoes and carrots are always a hit with the kids as well."

Ethan Miller, a young Calgarian, said that he found his recent visit to the farm very interesting.

"I've always loved going outside of the city because I find it is nicer."

Miller said that he believes a visit to the farm is not only educational, but is fun and something that he would recommend to his friends and their families.

Gabriel Virkutis, a young, first-time visitor to the Eagle Creek Farms, said he enjoyed the petting zoo, and expressed delight at seeing a chicken that had snuck into the donkey pen.

Virkutis said he would be taking a pumpkin home with him and looked forward to carving it with his dad closer to Halloween.

Though the weather is quickly changing, this is the last weekend to enjoy the fall pumpkin festival. It runs Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5p.m.

The vibrant colours of the lilies may have passed, but there are still plenty of vegetables to pick, as well as gladiolas, wild grasses and of course sunflowers that make for spectacular fall floral arrangements.

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