There is one thing that I love and hate about our hometown, Calgary, Alberta…
It’s giant urban footprint. Calgary is 825 square kilometers, the same land area as New York City but is has about 7,309,000 fewer people.
It is spread out with lots of wide-open spaces which brings me to the thing that frustrates me about my beloved hometown- you have to drive everywhere! Calgary is definitely not the most walkable city.
That being said there are some wonderful benefits to its many low-density urban areas.
Calgary has 64 parks, two of which, Fish Creek Park and Nose Hill Park are among the largest urban parks in all of Canada! There are so many places all over the city to skate, sled, snowshoe, run, kayak, and play whatever outdoor sport you can imagine.
I love that about our hometown.
We were reminded of one of the cities special urban outdoor gems thanks to Visit Calgary, Calgary’s tourism board. A little working farm that was once outside the city limits, Butterfield Acres Petting Farm remains a favorite place to visit with Calgarians. It’s now been overtaken by the city but is looks and operates just the same as it did when it opened so many years ago.
Butterfield Acres believes the best memories are made on the farm and they do everything they can to make visitors believe that too! We visited the little farm two weeks after we arrived back home just before Halloween.
People started visiting Butterfield Acres back in 1984. One of the petting farm owners, Ruth was approached by a Calgary teacher friend who wanted to bring her class to see a working farm. Over the years more and more school classes visited to learn about farming and kids loved the experience so much Ruth decided to open it to the general public.
Butterfield Acres is open for drop-in visits April to September and hosts seasonal events for Easter and Halloween. When we visited, in late October we took part in one of their annual harvest pumpkin hunts. The excitement started as soon as we arrived in the farmyard, not about the pumpkins but the new addition to the Butterfield Acres family. A baby donkey had just been born!
The best part about the farm is the interaction kids can have with the animals. There are donkeys, horses, ponies, goats, sheep, emus, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, hogs and more.
Kids learn about farm safety and what it takes to properly care for the different animals. There are seasonal challenges that present themselves in Alberta and Butterfield Acres shows kids how they prepare for them each season. They were gearing up for the impending winter weather while we were there.
Along with learning, there are lots of fun things for kids to do like pony rides, goat milking, tractor rides, summer day camps, and various farmyard activity stations that let kids get dirty and have tons of fun.
Mak had visited Butterfield Acres the first time with his play school. His favorite animals were the goats, they still are after this visit. We even got to milk one! All of the animals are so friendly, loved, and well cared for.
The Harvest Pumpkin Hunt was so much fun. Families piled into a large wagon and a big tractor pulled us to the back pasture to search for pumpkins. Elsa from Frozen came to join us on our hunting expedition!
Back at the farm, there was a barn set up with stations for the kids to decorate their pumpkins before taking them home for Halloween.
Butterfield Acres is very family oriented and there are lots of friendly young people that work on the farm. Everyone we encountered was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and engaging. A visit to Butterfield Acres is an authentic Calgary experience. It is a great place to learn a bit about Alberta’s farm industry and enjoy one of the best things about Calgary’s wide open spaces, a real farm right in the city! Worth the drive for a visit for sure.