We talk to Kate Broadbent who owns and manages Nikau Coopworth about her experience of hosting an Open Farms day last year and why she’s hosting again this February.
Open Farms the nationwide movement to reconnect urban Kiwis with our food, land and farmers, returns for its second year on Sunday 21 February 2020, building on its success from last year of over 3,500 visitors attending farms across Aotearoa.
Registrations to host are open and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) encourages farmers to take part in an initiative that provides urban kiwis with the chance to have a genuine on-farm experience to better connect them with the people and places that grow their food.
B+LNZ is proud to be a founding partner because we know how important it is for farmers to share their story. Our research shows many New Zealanders have never stepped foot on a farm before, but those that have are more likely to think positively of farming. Open Farms is a tangible opportunity to improve understanding and perceptions of agriculture.
Learn more about hosting and/or register to host on the Open Farms website.
We asked Kate Broadbent some questions about her experience hosting last year and why she’s hosting again this February. Kate owns and manages Nikau Coopworth, a sheep breeding operation producing stud rams. Hear what Kate has to say:
Kate, you hosted last year and have register to host again, why do you host an Open Farm?
“I believe it is a great initiative and I’m happy to contribute. It’s important to tell our farming story from our own perspective and what better way to do this than get people on farm. We all have a story to tell and something to offer.”
For you, why is it important to connect with urban Kiwis?
“The perceived divide between urban and rural Kiwis is not as apparent as the media portrays it. Urban kiwis are eager to understand what we do and proud of our international reputation for great product. They are appreciative and even in awe of how hard we work, how much we love our animals and how members of our farming communities support each other. It is important that we share this information as well as chat about the controversial topics such as our position on policy and regulation and other key topics such as GHG, carbon farming, animal welfare, market access etc. I find if we give opportunity to create discussion, I’ve often realised we have much more in common than we know!”
Tell us a little about the activities you did last year and what you’re hoping to do this year
“Last year we had a Sheep dog demo, shearing demo, explained the farming calendar, had sheep and cattle in the yards to look at, pet lambs running around to pet. I’m hoping to do some similar activities this year.”
What will you be talking about to visitors this year?
“I’ve jotted down some discussion points which include on wool and its value, costs and uses. I also want to talk about animal health and New Zealand farming systems in general including the challenges facing farmers to do with policy, the weather and our markets. Seeing as I have a sheep stud, I will also talk about genetics.”
What was the feedback from visitors last year?
“Last year’s feedback was all very positive, and it reinforced to me why I hosted and why I’m hosting again this year. It was a fun and engaging day!”
How did you find the registration process to host and the resources/support from the Open Farms team?
“Really quick and easy.”
What would be your advice for someone who is thinking of hosting?
“Do it! And if you’re hosting, think about activities that cater for everyone. Last year, I planned a farm walk - not very far but I changed my mind quickly as the fitness level and ability of several of the guests was not up to this. Also, as Open Farms day is during summer, it pays to think about having shelter for the guests. Last year was a very hot day and shade was important. We chatted under the covered yards.”
Listen to our recent podcast episode on building Urban-rural trust and support for sustainable farming
In this Scene + Herd episode we talk to Open Farms Founder Daniel Eb about why the programme was created and what it achieved in just one year, and he talks about what the farmers taking part gain from the experience as well as the value to our industry. Listen to podcast here.