Open Farms visitors feel more connected to farmers

// Industry

The latest feedback survey from the Open Farms' movement reflects positive visitor and host experiences.

The survey, conducted by Open Farms organiser Daniel Eb, show 91% of visitors would attend an Open Farm again.

Eb says most visitors reported that they came away with a much more positive view of farming in terms of environmental management and the complexity of farming.

Feedback shows that after visiting a farm, visitors felt more connected to farmers and thought farming was more complicated than they previously thought.  They were also more willing to pay a premium for sustainably grown food, were more likely to buy food directly from a farmer and generally had a more positive view on the environmental sustainability of farming.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is a founding partner of the Open Farms initiative in response to research carried out by B+LNZ in 2019 showing that a growing number of New Zealanders have never stepped foot on a farm before.

B+LNZ’s Chief Executive Sam McIvor says it was important for urban New Zealanders to see first-hand the environmental efforts from farmers.

B+LNZ has been proud to back the Open Farms movement from the beginning as it feeds into work the organisation has been doing to dispel myths about farming in relation to New Zealand’s environment.

“It’s important for urban Kiwi’s to see the care and passion that goes into the farming livestock and, when faced with global statistics, to think about farming in a NZ context,” says Sam.

Hosts give positive feedback

Feedback shows that Open Farm hosts also had a positive experience.  When hosts were asked to rate their experience on a scale of one to seven how much they enjoyed hosting an Open Farms event, the average answer was 6.2. Lisa Portas from Palliser Ridge says, “We really enjoyed hosting. We were cautious when it came to our event numbers, but in hindsight, we probably could have had more people come along.”

“The opportunity to stand in front of someone from a completely different background and have a conversation about what’s important to them, and what’s important to us, is invaluable for us as primary producers.”

Of the Open Farms hosts, 41% were sheep and beef farms.

One host urged other farmers to consider opening their gates at the next event.

“You will get out so much more than what you put in. If you’re feeling average about being a farmer, this is a great way to bring some pride back into what you do and humanise the face of farmers in New Zealand."

Eb says the feedback from year one was a strong foundation upon which to build the Open Farms movement and showed an increased awareness, engagement with and positive perception of the farming industry.

“Open Farms is built to scale and grow into an annual event – planning for 2021 is underway.”