Open Farm Days give consumers a greater appreciation for where their food comes from – here are tips on how to host your own.
Be a myth-buster
We realize there are many myths and misconceptions about our industry. You can help dispel them by hosting an Open Farm Day at your operation. It’s a one-day commitment, once a year, when you can tell the real story and make a difference. Consumers want to learn. It’s thrilling for them to be close to the action on a farming operation and hear directly from the people who produce their food.
You won’t be alone. Last year, almost every province had host farms participating in Open Farm Days, and thousands of consumers went home with a new understanding of and appreciation for Canada’s agriculture industry.
Top 10 how-to tips
- Provide something for every age (including kid-friendly activities).
- Post a tour schedule to help visitors know where they should be, and when.
- Include your fields, gardens, barns and equipment in your tours, and don’t forget to show how you use technology in your operation.
- Connect what you do on the farm back to the end-product in your talks and tours – consumers want to know what you grow, how you grow it and how it shows up on their tables.
- Make an educational display visitors can browse through, and have material they can take home with them to read later.
- Have product that people can take home, either a free sample or a market-garden style booth with product for sale. Include some recipes they can try out too.
- Try to recruit family members and friends to volunteer on Open Farm Day. It’s a good way to have extra staff on hand to help.
- Think about where you want people to park. Put up some signs and partition off specific areas that can withstand vehicular traffic, even on a muddy day.
- Inform visitors whether or not their dogs are welcome on your property, especially if you have animals who won’t tolerate the intrusion. Have a Plan B if some bring their dogs anyway.
- Rent a portable toilet if you don’t want visitors using your private one, because it’s inevitable that somebody’s going to need a washroom while they’re there.
Show and tell
Consumers care about how food is produced – show visitors where it comes from, and encourage them to pick their own berries and vegetables. Let them get their hands dirty and experience what it’s like to enjoy sun-warmed strawberries straight from the garden, often for the first time in their lives. Here’s a video of The Jungle Farm doing just that at their Open Farm Day.
Consumers care about animal welfare – take your cue from Country Thyme Farm and show visitors how you treat the sheep, chickens, ducks and geese – or whatever animals you’re raising – on your operation. And don’t be afraid to use that old-fashioned four-letter word to describe your relationship with your animals: LOVE.
Consumers care about the environment – show visitors you’re a sustainable business and talk about how you live out stewardship for our natural resources. As Banack’s Homestead discovered, most people are generations removed from the farm and have no clear idea how a modern operation fits into the food system. The way we farm today can confuse some consumers into thinking we’re all big corporate farms that don’t care. Hosting an Open Farm Day is a way to demonstrate there’s a family behind that corporation who really does care, who are simply using more modern tools and techniques – as any successful business owner would.
Free resources that can help
You’ve decided hosting an Open Farm Day is a great idea. What next? We’ve got free materials for you – infographics, postcards, tote bags and more – you can hand out to visitors at your event. Visit our shop today and place your order.