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Field day for small holders bigger than ever

10.5.06

Field day for small holders bigger than ever

This years Lifestyle Farmers Field Day seems set to celebrate its 15th year in style with the biggest event ever according to organiser, Peter Burke. The event is to be held on Saturday 27 May at the Otaki Racecourse.

Peter who's been running the field day since its inception, says there has been tremendous interest from exhibitors this year and he's have to make extra sites available to cope with demand. "I think people in the farm service area are realising just how important lifestyle farmers are to their business and are really making a concerted pitch for this niche market. There are also more lifestyle blocks coming on the market and this means additional business for a wide range companies", he says.

This year the field day will feature a wide range of products and services of special interest to lifestylers. There are small cattle such as dexters and mini highland cattle, sheep, tractors, ride-on mowers, trailers, buildings gardening tools and equipment. There will also be real estate agents, banks, insurance companies, security firms, fertiliser companies and of course nurseries selling plants and trees. For those seeking information farming books will be on sale, ACC will be promoting its farm safe programme and the Greater Wellington Regional Council will have a team of people on hand to offer advice on how to control pests such as possums and rabbits and also noxious plants.

"This year we have a great mix and balance of exhibitors and it is a unique opportunity for lifestylers to see such range of products and services. There is no event like this in the lower half of the north island and beauty of it is that Otaki is very good central location, says Peter Burke.

While most of the products on show at the field day are 'farm related' there will be some stalls selling sweets and country crafts. Te Horo School provides the bulk of the food on the day as a fund raiser. But theer will also be some specialist coffee stands for those that like a bit of the good life as well. There is also mini cars and an air castle to help entertain the young children and there will a special show jumping contest for min horses.

Admission to the field day is $5 for adults with children and teenagers free. The gates open at 9am

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A bit of history

The Otaki Lifestyle Farmers Field day was originally set up by the Greater Wellington Regional Council as a means of encouraging lifestyle farmers to take greater responsibility for managing pests such as possums and rabbits as well as noxious plants

Initially, lifestyle farmers were invited to seminars which were held on the Saturday afternoon. After the first year, some local farm supply companies asked if they could sell possum traps and other products to control noxious plants. By year three, the event had moved from being a two hour seminar to a small field day.

Fifteen years on the Wellington Regional Council is still very much involved and is the main sponsor of the event. Each year their team is on hand to provide advice on pest and noxious plant management as well as soil conservation and environmental matters that affect lifestyle farmers.

Today

The field day is now a significant local event attracting exhibitors and visitors from the lower half of the north island. Otaki, says event organiser, Peter Burke is a great place to stage the field day. Iti is a central location and within easy reach of lifestylers both north and south of the township. "We get people from Palmerston North, Wanganui, Wairarapa, Wellington as well as Kapiti Horowhenua. The racecourse is also the perfect venue because it has an excellent area for outside sites, loads of parking space and the grandstand building is ideal for the inside sites which are very much in demand", he says.

Many of the exhibitors have been coming to the field day for more than 10 years according to Peter Burke. Touchwood Books, Blooming Good Plants, Farmlands, Matatoa plant nursery, Norwoods, Automotive Pryde and Tararua Farm and Garden Supplies just some of those who have regularly supported the event he says. "I have got to know the exhibitors very well and that makes the job so much easier.

Peter Burke has been a lifestyle farmer himself for nearly 20 years and before that was an agricultural journalist working for TV-1 and Radio New Zealand. "I enjoy running this event and seeing the interest that people have in some of the new, and proven agricultural products and services. "In the last few years there have been a lot more animals shown at the field day. These are mainly the smaller breeds that seem to suit lifestylers with their smaller blocks of land. They also add to the atmosphere of the event he says. The field day has in the past featured on Country Calendar, Rural Report and has also been featured in the print media.

Future

Peter says the event is here to stay and he says as long as there is interest in the day he'll continue running it. I'd like to run it for another six years and notch up the 21 years milestone he says.

More details www.lifestylefarmers.co.nz

Small Farmers stand tall

Lifestyle farming is a big business in the lower half of the north island and the interests of those who engage in this occupation are represented by an organisation called Farmers Unlimited. The organisation was set up five years and grew out of a national organisation called the Small Farmers Association.

Farmers Unlimited is a network for lifestylers in the Kapiti, Horowhenua, Manawatu and Wanganui areas. Every month, the organisation arranges visits to farms that are of special interest to lifestylers. The organisaion also arranges seminars, runs a conference every two years and participates in the Otaki Field Day.

President Linda Archer says the organisation is an excellent network for lifestylers and keeps them in touch the latest trends and ideas in this area

ENDS

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