Reconnecting Kiwis with their Food and Farmers

Urban Kiwis will get to experience where their food starts when Open Farms, New Zealand’s nationwide open farm day, returns on Sunday March 21st 2021.

Now in its second year, Open Farms is a grassroots initiative that supports farmers to host open days for urban Kiwis. The first event saw 3,500 people visit 45 farms across the country – ranging from high-country sheep stations, to permaculture orchards, dairy farms and even an indoor microgreens producer in central Wellington.

Open Farms launched with a call-to-action for farmers across all food and fibre sectors.

“We built Open Farms because we believe that every Kiwi should have access to a genuine on-farm experience,” said project founder Daniel Eb.

Through the website, farmers post an Open Farms event, set and track their visitor numbers and download a host handbook covering health & safety, activity ideas, checklists and more. Events on-the-day differ by farm but can include anything from farm walks to animal displays, conservation tours, compost-making, fruit picking and more.

“The research shows that getting on farm changes how we view our role in the food system,” noted Eb.

“72 percent of visitors left a farm wanting to buy food direct from a farmer and 64 percent were more willing to pay a premium for sustainably grown food. This the right trajectory for citizens, farmers and our environment.”

North Auckland sheep & beef farmer Nicky Berger is one host looking forward to hosting an open day and helping Kiwis connect with their food.

“We take a lot of pride in producing nutritious food for our urban cousins and caring for the land. It’s a passion worth sharing and we’re really excited to open the family farm come March 21st,” expressed Berger.

“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,” said Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“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 2021 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. 

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