Thursday, April 25, 2024

They came, they saw, they farmed

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NZ’s fourth national Open Farm day hits a new high.
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About 4100 New Zealanders visited 25 farms during the fourth Open Farms national open farm day initiative on Sunday, March 10. 

Farms of all types participated in the nationwide project, from dairy farms near Auckland to horse breeders in Waikato, sheep and beef farms near Wellington, food forests in Christchurch and alpacas near Dunedin. 

The record visitor turnout comes amid a tough year for farmer hosts, Open Farms founder Daniel Eb said. 

“Despite missing several of our regular hosts in areas impacted by severe weather in 2023, it was great to support new and returning hosts alike. As always, the feedback from everyday urban New Zealanders was great – people genuinely appreciate the chance to touch, feel and taste their way back into farming,” Eb said. 

Sunday also saw the largest-ever Open Farms event, with 737 people visiting Mangaroa, a regenerative sheep, beef and horticulture farm in Upper Hutt. 

“It was awesome,” host farmer Jules Matthews said. “We want to do 1000 visitors next year!”   

Donald’s Farm manager Sam Waugh reveals what life on the land is like at the Open Farms event.

In Southland, the Erskine family of Westwood farm reported their highlight was that “one of the young girls wouldn’t go near the cows at first, but by the end of the day she was lying next to and patting them”.  

In line with previous event feedback, visitors rated their day at 4.5 out of 5 and 95% are keen to visit again next year. Visitor highlights included learning about science in farming, meeting the animals and learning about nature on the farm. 

Eb said that “40% of visitors tell us that they haven’t visited a farm in three or more years – 18% that they have never visited a farm! For these people, visiting a farm can be a life-changing experience and it’s a credit to the farmer hosts who make it happen for them.” One visitor commented that “these open days provide such a unique experience for townspeople who wouldn’t usually have the chance to get a glimpse of farm life in their region. Just an awesome initiative and wonderful families that open their farms.”  

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