Farm open days aim to reconnect rural and urban New Zealanders

Around 50 farms are opening their gates to the public.
Around 50 farms are opening their gates to the public. Photo credit: Supplied

The organiser of an initiative that will see farmers open their gates to the public has been overwhelmed by the interest from urban New Zealanders.

Open Farms aims to foster understanding about the rural sector, and the food-producing industry.

More than 50 farms are taking part in Sunday's event.

Open Farms founder Daniel Eb said there had been an enthusiastic response with most farms now at capacity.

He said he had been especially blown away by the interest from city-dwellers.

"The Auckland events booked out in a matter of days, they just went - and the same thing for Christchurch and Wellington," he said.

He said a key message of the day, which asked " Where does your family's food come from?" resonated with urban New Zealanders.

Daniel Eb said the farm open days were a great way for urban and rural communities to reconnect.
Daniel Eb said the farm open days were a great way for urban and rural communities to reconnect.

"That makes them feel relevant to farming because that's the food they feed their kids.

"Urban kiwis are desperate to participate, they really really are." 

He said his research had shown that many city residents felt a disconnection from the land.

"There is something fundamentally important about young New Zealanders feeling connected to 'place; and that's such a powerful message.

"But it's a hard message to tell in an urban concrete jungle, traffic jams and smartphone world, but it feels right on the farm."

Federated Farmers' president, Katie Milne believed the time was right for the initiative.

"It's really important because we don't have as many people, rellies and cousins and so on coming out and staying on our farms we used to because everyone has got so busy in their life and transport is difficult because roads are congested, so we are losing that connectedness, said Milne.

She said farmers taking part should be commended

"Hats off to them, because it's a difficult thing to do.

"Hopefully everyone is coming with the right frame of mind to have a great day on the farm, and remind their kids how food is produced, because it doesn't just come from the supermarket."

Milne said having fresh sets of eyes on the farm could also provide a useful perspective for farms.

"It's actually surprising too what you pick up from some of the questions people ask you about your farm that make you think in a different way."

Daniel Eb said the initiative would be held annually and build on the success of Sunday's open days.

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