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Hold Seasonal "Open House" Days at Local Farms

Inspired by artist "open studio" days, the Queensland government could sponsor a 4x yearly "Open House" day at local farms to get urban residents more connected to their local food producers. During the seasonal Open House days, urbanites would get the chance to visit local farms on a "Farm Crawl" and participate in activities like harvesting and cooking lessons. A "Farm Crawl" bus could provide hop on, hop off transport for car-less city residents. Each participant would be provided with a basket to collect food that's picked (or purchased) from each of the farms visited.

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31 55

Written by DeletedUser

This concept is inspired by "Open Studio" days held in many cities worldwide where artists open up their studios to visitors who want to see how they make their work. Why not do the same with local farms to give urban residents a chance to get out into the country and "see inside" how food is cultivated at nearby farms?


At the start of each season, on a day designated by the Queensland Government, local farms would open their doors to urban residents eager to get out of the city and get to know the producers of their food. Residents would go on a "farm crawl" and make stops at the participating farms, taking part in activities at each farm. Activities could include:


- Harvesting/picking
- Packing produce for transport
- Cooking lessons with produce that's in season
- Tasting dishes prepared with local ingredients
- Lessons on horticulture and gardening


Since city-dwellers often lack their own cars, buses would be provided to pick participants up at major points and take them on a circuit of farms participating in the surrounding areas.


Each participant would be provided with a wicker basket at the start of the "crawl" in which they'd carry food they've purchased (or picked up for free?) at each of the farms.


I'd love to hear your ideas/suggestions on my concept!

Concept builds

Promotional take home items could be sold to generate money to help fund the administrative costs of holding the Open House Farm Days. For example, calendars with information about what fruits/veg are in season each month and recipes that use them could be one such item. (Wells College) A web platform could be created which would help advertise the Open House Farm Days, and also allow farmers and urban residents stay connected throughout the rest of the year. Farmers can post information about what's coming in season, crop progress, activities they plan on hosting at their farm during the Open House days, etc. Urban residents can log on to communicate with farmers, and other participants to swap recipes, gardening tips, and other food/harvesting news. (Tanja Rosenqvist)

What actions would need to be taken to turn this idea into a reality?

An Open House Farm Day committee would need to be created. This committee would liaise between the Queensland government and farmers' networks. The committee would get various farms to come on board for the Open House days, find sources of funding (see below), and work with other synergistic organizations to publicize the events.

Who might make a good partner for this project?

Farmers' Associations (and farmers' markets groups), Environmental Groups, Municipal Governments (to help publicize and provide transport), high-profile restauranteurs, local universities.

What suggestions would you have for potential sources of funding for the development of this project?

A brand could be made out of the "Open House Farm Days" and promotional items--such as the seasonal calendar described above, gardening tools, baskets, tote bags, etc--could be sold to generate income. Farmers' associations could also provide some funding. Presumably though, the Queensland Government, and other local municipal governments, would be important partners in this sense.

Virtual team

Wells College Tanja Rosenqvist Jennifer Tran Shaona kanika gupta

Evaluation results

10 evaluations so far

1. How effectively do you think that this concept reconnects food consumers and producers?

It would reconnect food consumers and producers strongly - 70%

It would somewhat reconnect food consumers and producers  - 20%

It would not significantly reconnect food consumers and producers  - 10%

2. How scalable is this idea across communities and geographies?

This concept can be scaled across many communities  - 60%

This concept will take a fair bit of work to build and scale - 30%

This concept is not particularly scalable  - 10%

3. How quickly could this concept be impactful? 

This concept could happen today - 60%

This concept could happen soon with some work - 40%

I struggle to see this happening in a reasonable timeframe - 0%

4. How original is this concept?

This concept is extremely original - 20%

This concept has some original aspects - 40%

This concept already exists - 40%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

This concept rocked my world – it’s brilliant - 30%

I liked this concept but preferred others - 30%

This concept didn’t get me overly excited - 40%

31 comments

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Comment
Photo of Fei Xin

This is an excellent idea. This idea can make more people understand the fresh food production process, and its nutritional value. "During the seasonal Open House days, urbanites would get the chance to visit local farms on a" Farm Crawl "and participate in activities like harvesting and cooking lessons." Through this way can allows people to communicate and discuss cooking experience and learning how to make healthy food for better health.

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DeletedUser

Hooray! Congratulations, Rachel.
I'm really thrilled your concept made it to the top 10—seems like a fantastic way to connect consumers and producers through an enjoyable experience!

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DeletedUser

Hooray! Congratulations, Rachel.
I'm really thrilled your concept made it to the top 10—seems like a fantastic way to connect consumers and producers through an enjoyable experience!

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DeletedUser

Hello Rachel! Very interesting concept! but, more importantly, simple.

It is very simple, scalable, and can happen today! The 16 evaluations till now clearly suggest the same as well.

One important thing about this concept is that there is not much effort needed by any partner. Simplistically, a group of farmers can even form their own cooperative and undertake this event on their own.

The only push that is needed would be to the stimulate the consumers to take time off and see the lovely farms. That's where the Government would be handy!

Very good concept!

Good luck with the challenge!

Cheers!
Srini

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DeletedUser

Sorry for the split comment, Something just sprung up. :-)

With the possibility of an open day, a whole new set of fun things can be interlinked with it. It would be lovely to see families coming to such events rather than playing Wii together at home.

The fun events can be a wonderful thing for all the stakeholders.

Consumers- can have fun family time in the Sun
Farmers - more interest from consumers
Other 3rd parties - Commercial gains from the fun activities

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DeletedUser

Hi Rachel, This is such a great idea. I have a CSA box delivered to my neighborhood every two weeks and they also host a number of events inviting members to the farm to engage them on the food they receive. Check out Eatwell Farm's Strawberry Days: http://eatwell.com/for-members/events/strawberry-days-2011/. To increase participation among the farmers, I would spend part of the marketing budget to create the cool swag material to simply give the farmers an honorarium for their time. If they're not farming or working on the business, they're not making immediate money for the family. Even it's just something small like $100-$300 for their time, that would be the first buy-in. To build on another comment that farmers are not necessarily PR agents for themselves, I would suggest giving them concrete ways on how they can capitalize on the day and providing support on implementing these added-value programs:

a) Create a CSA program where people can sign up that day and get produce delivered to their neighborhood that coincide with days that the farmer will make deliveries to wholesale accounts in that neighborhood. Provide forms for the farmer and suggestions on how other CSA programs work (and the nitty gritty details like receiving payments, where to buy the waxed boxes for delivery, cool event ideas, etc.). Have an incentive the day-of for people to register for the CSA program that day.

b) Send someone from the Farmers Market Associations to take photos of some of the farms in advance. Host a Launch Party for the event in the center of town. Scroll the photos on the main website with a subline referencing the farmer, town and farm name. Create a gallery showcasing the photos and place them in a municipal building in Queensland. Share the photos with the farmers and help them put it in their marketing materials like websites, brochures, etc. as an added bonus of professional photography!

Photo of Paul Bennett

Hi Rachel: I was in the same group as Ben, and agree that your concept generated a lot of positive discussion and interest. The most exciting part was having an actual farmer in the room who is already doing this, so it really validated what you are suggesting. Great work, thank you for your participation. Very cool!

Photo of Ben Morgan

My team were lucky enough to snag this concept during the Brisbane workshop. We were all very taken with the idea, and were excited to learn that a number of farmers (including Ray from our group) are already opening their farms in Queensland to their customers.

One thing that was mentioned is that it is important not to overwhelm any one farm/grower with too many people; in other words, 40 farms, 40 people, not 1 farm 1600 people. After all, these are working farms that need to keep running throughout.

The most crucial part of this will be coordination (as you've mentioned Rachel). Although farmers (particularly organic farmers) are very passionate and highly-skilled, their passions (and time) lie in food production, not really PR.

It would be worth thinking about finding people with a strong knowledge of farming who could help work with growers to coordinate the program.

We also discussed the idea of having 'hub' farms that could act as a focal point for the Open farm days for other farms in the region.

Loved this concept Rachel!

(ADDITIONAL BUILD)

An additional idea was also floated, that we could create a Queensland Regional Food Producers Awards program, focussing on the consumer end, rather than an industry award. This would complement the Open Farm Days nicely and help raise the profiles of the small producers.

Photo of OpenIDEO

Folks at the Ideas Festival in Queensland were digging the goodness on this concept! Areas discussed in our workshops that you might like to explore further – initial engagement + consultation with farmers to encourage buy-in, social media engagement and interaction and affiliated urban pop-up outlets / events. Bring on the builds!

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DeletedUser

I'm glad to see you're thinking about transportation. It's particularly key for appealing to low-income demographics, since they will often lack cars.

I think it'd be great to take it a step further and encourage people to reduce their transportation footprints. Given these farms will typically be outside of urban centers, it would be easy to rack up a lot of miles doing a farm tour. Maybe implement some sort of ride sharing system on the web platform?

There could also be incentives for riding on the "public" transportation.

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DeletedUser

This is an excellent idea. How about starting with tapping the schools and colleges. Keeping open farm days and inviting schools and colleges to visit. The kids are an important part of the food consumption channel in the cities and imparting the right information to them can really affect the consumption cycle.

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Way to go on making the Shortlist on the Local Food Challenge! Selecting 20 concepts out of over 600 was a tough job and we're excited to have you move through to the Refinement Phase. You can get a low-down on how the phase works over on Field Notes: http://bit.ly/refine_lowdown

Basically over the next 10 days we'd like you to further fine-tune your idea. You might explore opportunities and challenges to implementation, visualise further, expand on engagement strategies or connect various dots and details that would assist bringing your concept into fruition.

If you hit the Update This button on the right of your post, you'll see we've added 5 new fields to help you refine: Concept Builds, Actions, Project Partners, Funding Sources and Virtual Team. Check them out and feel free to keep updating your post throughout the phase – based on feedback and collaboration with fellow OpenIDEATORS and your own ideating goodness!

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DeletedUser

we really like this idea and we came up with a few ideas that might help!
First we were thinking that farmers could be offered some kind of monetary incentives to open their farms to people.
second, the farms could sell calendars with information on each month about what is in season and list recipes that use the seasonal foods. Also in the teaching activities about cooking and gardening one of the activities should be teaching people the benefits of using your own home grown food both with it being healthier and it could potentially be cheaper. Also since this is targeting urban people it might be helpful to teach people what types of foods grow best with limited space.

Photo of Sina Mossayeb

family outing time for sure!

Photo of Jie Jin

I love this idea! I'm not sure how many people nowadays still remember what fruits and vegetables are in which season. The "open house" or "open farm" event will help us reconnect to nature and to farmers.

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DeletedUser

One more direct model for this concept is

http://www.londonopenhouse.org/

in which London architectural landmarks open their doors to the public for one day a year. This has fairly broad marketing and awareness associated with it.

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DeletedUser

Hey Michael, this is the exactly the kind of program that I had in mind when conceptualizing the Open House farm days. They do an "Open House NYC" as well which is great!

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DeletedUser

As someone else has mentioned, winery tours are a great model for what this concept could eventually grow into. Cattle farms may be the best thing to start with because with meat, there's already the beginnings of product differentiation in supermarkets and at butchers, which is a necessary first step for consumers to be interested in the origins of the product itself. In some cases the region is mentioned (e.g. "Scotch Beef"), but individual farms are sometimes mentioned as well (e.g. Donald Russell in the UK, there are a few US examples as well that I can't think of at the moment).

Australians are also generally aware that cattle is one of Australia's main exports; at the same time most Australians live in cities, and many have a slightly romantic view of the outback, cattle ranches, etc. Hence, there's probably some nice marketing angle that would entice city-dwelling Australians into the country-side, to see how one of the things Australia is famous for actually gets produced.

There's a few potential pitfalls as well:

* How large are cattle farms? Can you visit several in an afternoon? (Wineries are often very small.) High quality cattle farms must be smaller than, say, rice or sugar farms though.

* What do cattle farms and cattle, uh, smell like? Is this going to put people off?

* It would be best if people would want to purchase meat from the farm they're visiting, as they do at wineries. How practical is this? (a) The abattoir is probably a long way away. (b) People are in cars--can the meat be kept cold? (c) Is cattle sent to abattoirs sort of continuously, or is one semi-trailer sent off once a year?

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DeletedUser

Two US examples of "branded" meat: Niman Ranch, and Creekstone Farms. I think these are both actually large farm conglomerates though, rather than individual farms.

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DeletedUser

Great concept, Rachel! A farm tour sounds fantastic! In BC, wine is a big deal and there are a lot of opportunities to tour wineries, taste, get involved, etc. Over the last 10 years, I've noticed the buzz about BC wineries has grown more and more, and many people - tourists and locals - visit in the fall, especially when the grapes are picked for the ice wines. Tourism BC and the regional tourism destination marketing organizations have put a lot of work into promoting wine touring.

The Farm Crawl would be a great opportunity to leverage existing state and regional/city tourism marketing infrastructure and relationships. An organization like Tourism Queensland would have a lot of experience in supporting and promoting to visitors and locals.

Sign me up for Farm Crawl!

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DeletedUser

@Tanja, I like the idea of a web platform that farmers could use to tell participants about the activities they plan on having on the day of the Farm Crawl. It would facilitate information flows between farmers and participants, but also strengthen the ultimate goal of the event -- to increase awareness and linkages between producers and consumers, before, during and after the event.

@Jennifer, great idea as well. Farms could offer different activities for different age groups, and also specific activities such as cheese-making workshops, gardening lessons, cooking classes, etc, depending on their facilities.

Thanks for the support and ideas!

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DeletedUser

Fantastic way to show people the faces behind their food. We should adopt this in the U.S., too!

Photo of An Old Friend

Love your concept! I'm thinking that maybe you should purpose a webpage that creates the contact between farmers and the public. The farmers themselves can decide which kind of activity they would have on their farm. They could all have different.

Maybe you could find inspiration on this site from Denmark about "bondegårdsferie" (Farm vacation). http://www.bondegaardsferie.dk/uk

Having vacation on a farm is rather normal in Denmark. Also all children living in the capital Copenhagen are during their school time forced to go live and work on a farm for at least a week when they are about 14. This is to "go see were the food comes from".
Also every year when the ecological cows go on the field for the first time (they are inside during winter) the public is invited to all ecological farms to come and see the cows go nuts. Most Danish families with small children actually go "farm-visiting" once in a while (if they are not farmers themselves of course) either for the cow-days or for the open-farm days which are mainly arranged by the larges milk producer in Denmark. Maybe it should not be the government controlling it, but the milk producer, the slaughterhouse or whoever the farmers send their produce to.

Hope these examples are helpfull.

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DeletedUser

I love your idea! I can imagine the Farm Crawl having different programs aimed at different target audiences! ie. Cooking lessons for the pensioners who have the time to travel and see places; children and families picking various fruits&veg!

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DeletedUser

I would TOTALLY go on one of these Farm Crawls and I think you could probably generate interest from a lot of different kinds of people - inner-city families etc. And it would have a ripple effect -- people would stay connected. BRILLIANT idea! :)

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DeletedUser

@Shaona, yes, definitely some good overlap between our ideas! I like the incorporation of a sustainability component in your concept (using produce-transporting trucks to get people to and from farms).

Photo of Shaona

Hey Rachel,

Arjun brought your concept to my attention. The user experience from production to delivery can really activate connection between consumer and product: http://bit.ly/hpThSd

As I have mentioned on my concept page, reading "Farm crawl" excites me. I can only imagine the actual experience! Good day,

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DeletedUser

Thanks for the comments guys! @Meena, I definitely see the possibility of some side innovations here as well.

Would love to know if any of you out there have any ideas for some "builds" off this concept.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Nice idea. In the Netherlands there is one for houses that are for sale, and it's a huge success. Or the international museum nights. Could definitely also work for farms.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great stuff! And from what I know of artist/design studio open days – folks get quite competitive on hosting which could spark a number of side-line innovations.

Photo of Vincent Cheng

Great idea Rachel. Pub Crawls were never really my thing, but a Farm Crawl, that piques my interest. This really creates a unique experience for people and gives them a chance to connect and build relationships with multiple farms/farmers in one visit.