A unique entertainment park that began in controversy is close to opening its doors to the public.
Granary Road boasts an indoor farmer’s market, greenhouses, a bakery, restaurant and lounge, and an outdoor educational park at its Red Deer Lake-area location. Located at 226 Avenue and 112 Street West, just south of Highway 22X, it will open its doors on June 22.
The grand opening comes one year after lengthy debate in MD of Foothills council chambers over whether to approve the park. At the time, it was met with opposition from some area neighbours who cited concerns over increased traffic and noise.
MD Mayor Larry Spilak said council has not heard anything since, though that doesn’t mean opinions have changed. Despite opposition from some residents, he said it’s still a great addition to the municipality.
“The majority of our council still feels it’s a very good project for Foothills, and it goes forward with the education as well as promoting local produce and locally-grown food,” said Spilak. “I think it’s a really nice addition to the MD.”
Granary Road representative Jane Walter-Lockwood said they’re excited to bring the educational opportunities to the Foothills and offer people from all over the chance to see where their food comes from and how nature works.
The main attraction for education will be the 37-acre Active Learning Park, which has been built in a natural field with walking paths leading from one themed station to another.
“This year we’re opening with 11 exhibits, and all of them have a fun, active component and all of them have an educational component,” said Walter-Lockwood.
Each exhibit (learning kiosk) includes a small amphitheatre with seating for 20 people and big-screen televisions playing short informational videos. A teacher can then select the correct grade level, and a lesson will be given to suit the curriculum for the age group. The learning kiosks also have live components, such as live mushrooms growing in the mushroom exhibit and cattails and other plants and animals living in a gigantic tank in the wetland area. Learning walls in each area will provide additional information and facts based on the topics, said Walter-Lockwood.
The most exciting part is the Over the Top learning experience, she said. This includes a gigantic play structure modeled after an ant farm and a bat cave where visitors will put on a helmet and mask and walk through a maze blinded, using echolocation to navigate through the paths, like bats in the night sky.
“We really tried to make the experiences as authentic as possible for the kids,” said Walter-Lockwood. “It’s hard as parents today because we’re constantly competing with phones and devices, and this is a place where you can come and forget about it.
“They’ll be outside, they’ll be active. They’ll be engaged and they’ll be learning something.”
Inside, the market offers visitors a taste of local food and artisans year-round, said Walter-Lockwood, and restaurant and bakery promise to serve up fresh food with locally-sourced ingredients, right down to the butter.
The market will feature 30 permanent vendors from Thursday through Sunday, she said. It took seven months of visiting various markets around the region to hand-pick the vendors that will sell their wares at Granary Road, she said.
Nicola Klaver, a resident from the Heritage Pointe area, is one of the permanent vendors with her company, Serenpidity Garden and Design. She’s excited for the opportunity.
“I reached out to them and I was very lucky to get a spot there,” said Klaver.
She will be selling terrariums, miniature gardens and zen gardens in her stall. It’s a business she got into when she fell victim to corporate downsizing last year, and she said it’s become a real passion.
Being at Granary Road will be a great opportunity to share her art with more people, said Klaver.
“I’m very excited,” said Klaver. “The atmosphere of the market and the open-air feeling of it, it will almost be like working outside from my standpoint. I think it will be a very electric environment, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
In addition to the permanent year-round indoor market, Walter-Lockwood said Granary Road will also feature 10 outdoor vendors during the summer months.
Admission to Granary Road Active Learning Park is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $13 for children ages three to 14. Admission to the market only is free. There are also a number of season pass options, she said.
The Active Learning Park will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days per week from April through October, and the market will be open Thursday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. year-round.
For more information visit www.granaryroad.com