Nicky Berger wants better understanding between food producers and consumers.
Mahurangi farms will open their gates this weekend in a bid to bolster public understanding of the role farmers play and how the food people eat is produced.
Among those participating in the Open Farms NZ event will be Ahuroa sheep and beef farmer Nicky Berger, who founded GrassFed in the City – an organisation dedicated to countering misconceptions about farming and farmers. Ms Berger says many families are increasingly separated from the food they eat and the people who have grown it for them.
“As food producers we, too, often feel separated from our consumers, with whom we would love to share the passion we have for growing great food,” she says.
Ms Berger says farmers are especially sensitive to the noise on social and mainstream media where anti-farming activists regularly cast doubt on the trusworthiness of farmers and their capacity to take care of the land and animals.
She says entering into arguments on Facebook and Twitter is seldom productive, with people trading angry insults at each other and where those who understand the nuances of the argument tend to tune out. The frustration led to the inaugural Open Farms NZ field day last March. She believes Open Farms is the best way for urban Kiwis to connect with the people who grow their food – giving them a chance to ask all their questions related to land, crops, animals and orchards, plus a chance to show children where their food originates.
Visitors to Dan and Nicky’s Braeside Farm will have a chance to watch sheep being shorn, talk to the shearer, watch dogs draft lambs through the yards and possibly see a demonstration of drenching.
There will be a woolpit for younger children and a sausage sizzle and cold drink for everyone.
Also participating is Atiu Creek Regional Park, which includes a sheep and cattle farm run by a specialised farming team working alongside park rangers. Atiu Park aims to become a leader in environmentally-sustainable farming. Visitors can sit in a tractor, or see sheep shearing, cattle handling demonstrations, dogs working stock and participate in a self-guided farm walk.
For a rather different experience, visitors can check out Cue Haven in Kaipara. Here a former dairy farm has been restored to native bush for education and enjoyment. Volunteers have planted more than 170,000 native trees and built more than 3kms of walking tracks. Visitors can walk the tracks, spot native birds and take advantage of a newly opened viewing platform offering magnificent views of the Kaipara Harbour. There will be free tea, coffee and biscuits.
Open Farms will be held on Sunday, February 21, and is free. Register at www.openfarms.co.nz.