Manitoba farmers and the province are gearing up to host another Open Farm Day September 18 and this year promotions are starting early.
Last year, nearly 4,000 people descended on 35 participating farms for a September farm show-and-tell event for which publicity only started earlier that month.
This year the invitation to Manitoba’s farms will begin June 4. That’s the day there will be brochures and maps ready for distribution at St. Norbert Farmers’ Market in Winnipeg.
Host farms must register by May 16 so that brochures and maps will be printed and ready for the June launch at St. Norbert Farmers’ Market opening day.
“One of the comments that came back was that the public wanted to know about Open Farm Day sooner,” said Susan Nicoll, manager of the North Interlake MAFRI GO team, and part of the department’s agritourism team which poured over evaluations following last year’s inaugural event.
The earlier promotion may not be the only thing that attracts even larger numbers of visitors this year. Keystone Agriculture Producers, the Manitoba Regional Tourism Network, Mani toba Rural Tour i sm As sociat ion and Eastman Tourism Association have all agreed to help promote the event through their respective organizations.
KAP sees this as a good way to raise awareness of the agricultural sector among the general public and help build connections between the farm and urban population, said Yvonne Rideout, executive director of KAP.
Lesl ie Gaudry, chair of Eastman Tourism Association said last year’s event gave a huge boost to agri-tourism.
“I think at first people were just curious to see how it would unfold and it turned out to be very successful,” she said, adding that the best thing to come of it was how visitor and farmer learned something from each other.
“Open Farm Day is a platform for farmers to tell their stories, sell their products and invite visitors to share in what farming is all about,” MAFRI Minister Stan Struthers said in a news release announcing the 2011 event.
Thirty-two farmers were signed up as of last week to take part in this year’s Open Farm Day.
Organizers hope to have clusters of participating farms in different regions this year, Nicoll said. “We found that the public liked to have two or three within an hour of each other.”
Farmers wishing to participate in Open Farm Day or looking for more information about the event can call Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI) agri-tourism line at 204-821- 5322. GO offices have resource materials that include safety guidelines and planning recommendations for the day including background material to help handle questions from the public on agricultural issues.
“Ithinkatfirstpeople werejustcurioustosee howitwouldunfold anditturnedoutto beverysuccessful.”
– LESLIE GAUDRY, CHAIR EASTMAN TOURISM ASSOCIATION