Get out the gumboots, New Zealand’s national open farm day is set for Sunday 12 March 2023!
Now in its third year, Open Farms reconnects Kiwis with our land, food & farmers through a nationwide series of open farm events.
“It’s about getting urban Kiwis back out on-farm to experience where their food starts” says founder Daniel Eb. “In the two years we’ve run Open Farms, more than 7,000 people have visited 82 farms – from sheep & beef stations, to permaculture orchards, dairy farms, honey producers and more.”
While the 2022 event was delayed, Open Farms 2023 kicks off with a call for farmers to sign up to host an open day.
“There is no lack of interest from urban Kiwis to get on-farm” says Eb. “We book out half of our capacity in 24 hours and more than 80% of events are overbooked. To give more Kiwis a chance to reconnect with their rural roots, we’re asking more farmers to host with us.”
Ahead of the 2023 event, Open Farms have made changes to make hosting easier, including a private event format for first-time hosts and a subsidy to help cover farmer’s time.
“We made these changes to help reduce some of the anxiety around hosting and show farmers that we value their contribution to the project” says Eb. “We can’t do it without them”.
After two years of running NZ’s national open farm day, the Open Farms team have seen the impacts of on-farm experiences first-hand.
“There’s a mindset piece – farmers feel a renewed sense of pride when seeing their farm through fresh eyes or sparking a passion for food production in others. There are tangible economic benefits to hosting too. We’ve seen farmers use their open day to build team morale, hire new people or market a direct-to-customer business model.”
To host an event with Open Farms, farmers sign-up on the website, set and track their visitor numbers and download a handbook covering activity ideas, checklists and more. Open Farms supports farmers to plan their day, manages all visitor marketing & registrations and provides a ‘box-of-kit’ for the day.
“When it comes to bridging the urban-rural divide, there is nothing more effective than an on-farm experience” says Eb.
Across two post-event research projects, visitor feedback is clear - people feel more connected to farmers, view sustainability in farming more positively and better understand the complexities of farming after an open day.
“If nothing else, it’s just good fun – hosts and visitors rate their open farms experience 4.6 out of 5 and 91% of visitors are keen to visit again” says Eb.
Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says that creating opportunities for Kiwis to connect with farming and food production has never been more important.
“The primary sector is being called on to step-up and lead New Zealand’s Covid recovery, people are looking for ways to support sustainable farming and our farmers also want to connect and demonstrate how we grow the nation’s food and manage our environment. Having a platform to connect customers and producers together is critical – that’s why we’ve supported Open Farms since its inception and continue to encourage sheep & beef farmers to get involved.”
Open Farms is backed by three partners - Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund.
For more information, prospective farmer hosts and visitors can visit www.openfarms.co.nz.
Media contact - Daniel Eb (027 586 0884, firstname.lastname@example.org)
About Open Farms
Open Farms is a platform to reconnect Kiwis with the people and places that grow our food. It’s a grassroots, nationwide initiative supporting farmers from all sectors to host on-farm experiences as part of a national open day. The platform supports farmers with event planning, marketing, registrations and kit, and connects visitors to Open Farms events via a booking system. The platform is independently run by Open Farms Ltd, with support from sponsors Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund.