Open farms show how it is and was

The importance agriculture plays in New Zealand’s economy is unusual in the developed world and not always appreciated here.

One of the reasons for that is that the country is just something most people travel through at 100 kph – or more – to get from one town or city to another.

When I was a child those of us who didn’t live on farms were usually related to or friends with someone who did.

That isn’t the case now. Most New Zealanders are urban with little if any link to farmers and farming.

Federated Farmers works hard to bridge the growing urban-rural divide and one of its most successful initiatives is the Farm Day when members of the public are invited to discover the country.

Twenty two working farms and one historic one will open their gates to the public tomorrow.

The historic farm is Totara Estate which has scheduled its annual Harvest Home to coincide with Farm Day.

The Topp Twins are special guests at the festival and have secured the services of Ken and Ken to judged the lamb burger competition.

Prue and Dilly will be judging the vegetable produce and will be searching for the longest bean, biggest potato and most appealing apple.

Camp Mother and Camp Leader have been enlisted to judge the Scone & Jam section.

The day starts with a Thanksgiving Service at 10.30.

After that in addition to the entertainment the focus will be on traditional skills with demonstrations on how to preserve the harvest; relishes and jams, and apple cider making. Guest speakers will share their experience with creating a home vegetable garden, growing vegetables and making great compost.

Harvest Home always celebrates the working horse with Clydesdale harnessing and shoeing displays culminating in a grand parade.

Totara’s infamous swaggers regularly descend on the Estate, set up camp and tell tall tales as they await the start of their annual Race to the Brydone Monument. Lunchtime hawkers will prepare and sell traditional farm fare such as  lamb shanks and blackened corn and skilled trades such as blacksmith, blade shearers, saddlers and woodworkers will demonstrate their craft. Young Victorian peddlers will test their entrepreneurial spirit by selling their wares, be it boiled sweets or peg dolls.

There’s also penny-farthing, horse and wagon rides, traditional children’s games, storytellers, bush bands and roving minstrels.

Totara Estate is the home of our frozen meat industry which was the foundation of New Zealand’s economy for many years.

The Historic Places Trust and local volunteers put a lot of effort in to ensuring it’s not just a dusty monument and Harvest Home is one of the ways they ensure that history is brought to life.

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