10% of Irish people have never visited a farm

One in 10 Irish people have never visited a farm – while one in three Irish people have not visited a farm in the past five years, according to research carried out on behalf of Agri Aware.

For 55% of these people, the reason was simply that they never had the opportunity. 

This research – conducted by RED C – comes as Agri Aware gears up for its inaugural National Open Farm Day, which will take place on four farms around the country this bank holiday Monday (May 7).

This, according to Agri Aware, will be the first time in Ireland that farms from across the country will simultaneously open their gates to the public on one day to help educate consumers about what happens on a working farm and to encourage families to learn more about where our food comes from.

Research

The research was carried out by RED C among more than 1,000 respondents nationwide.

Additional findings include:
  • The majority of respondents (87%) claim that a visit to a farm would be beneficial to children, particularly those who have children. 60% of those with children have a strong interest in visiting a working farm and over half the population claim they would be interested in such a visit;
  • Generally, there is a greater lack of knowledge among females, 18-24 year olds and those with children – however, these groups also show highest levels of interest in visiting a farm;
  • The majority of respondents believe they have good understanding of the farm to fork journey (60%), but are less likely to agree that children also understand it (35%);
  • The key attractions would be to see the farm animals (85%), see how vegetables grow (71%), seeing the farmer at work (62%) and seeing machinery (46%);
  • Dairy and beef have the highest level of understanding of any farm types, while sheep and tillage return lower understanding levels.

Commenting on the research, Agri Aware executive director Deirdre O’Shea said: “As we become an increasingly urbanised nation, many people are losing the connection between the activity carried out year-round by farmers all over our country and the food that they consume every day.

Caoimhe O’Shea (age 3)

“Our research clearly shows that Irish people would welcome the opportunity to visit a working farm to learn more about how our food is produced.

“We are delighted to be able to facilitate this through our first National Open Farm Day,” O’Shea said.

National Open Farm Day

Agri Aware’s National Open Farm Day will take place on bank holiday Monday, May 7 – this day week.

The host farmers include: John and Ann Coughlan, Buttevant, Co. Cork; Padraic and Breege Joyce, Castlebar, Co. Mayo; Tom and Geraldine Short, Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow; and Padraic and Brid McMahon, Fieldstown West, north Co. Dublin.

Each farm will host several activity zones on the day, including:
  • The ‘Meet the Farmer’ Zone: Giving visitors a chance to meet the farmer and get real-life experience of what life is like on the farm, the animals and crops the farmers tend to each day and some history of the farm;
  • The Cookery Zone: Each location will have the “farm-to-fork” journey come to life with a cookery demo by celebrity chefs using local produce and ingredients straight from the farm. Celebrity chefs on the day will include Edward Hayden (Dublin), Lilly Higgins (Cork), Sharon Hearne-Smith (Mayo) and Catherine Leyden (Wicklow);
  • The Kid Zone: The kid zone will be a hive of activity with interactive activities for younger visitors – including: milk races; butter discos (making their own butter); farm safety games; face-painting; and farm trails, among other games.

This free public event is being hosted by Agri Aware, the Irish agri-food educational body, and is supported by a number of industry patrons.

On the day, each of the farms will open their gates to the public from 11:00am to 4:00pm and each location will offer its own unique programme of activities.

For full details of the activities planned on each farm, along with directions, visit the Agri Aware website.

Deirdre O’Shea, executive director of Agri Aware, with Caoimhe O’Shea