2 April 2016 - by The Open Farm Week Organizing Team

Vermont Open Farm Week - Farmer Participation

Category: Events

Dear Farmers,

We have begun planning for our 3rd annual Vermont Open Farm Week! This year’s Open Farm Week will take place August 14 - 20, 2017 - please save the date! Farms all over the state will be hosting special events during this week, some just for one day and others for several days or all throughout the week. Registration is now open! Sign your farm up through the button below.

What is Open Farm Week?

Building on the success of NOFA-VT’s 2014 Open CSA Farm Day, several organizations from around the state came together to organize this event with the plan of expanding both the scope and the length of the event.  Our goal is to strengthen consumers’ connections to Vermont land and farms while teaching them how to access Vermont-grown food, fiber and forestry products.  We envision Open Farm Week as an annual event that invites both Vermonters and vacationers to build relationships with our farmers and deepen interest in Vermont’s amazing working landscape.

Open Farm Week is an opportunity for you to spotlight your farm and showcase your products.  Whether you sell directly to consumers or wholesale markets, farms of all kind are encouraged to participate. If you are not usually open to the public, that’s okay too. We will provide you with resources for managing safety and liability, as well as what guests will expect when coming to your farm.  Please plan for some ways to engage consumers while they are visiting.  You may want to provide tours or other activities such as seed planting, tastings, scavenger hunts, or on-farm dinners for folks to engage in. Please direct any questions to diginvt@vermontfresh.net  - we look forward to working with you!

New this Year

Event Requirements: After taking in guest feedback, we realized that people attending Open Farm Week events are looking for activities, farmer interaction and unique events. We are changing the format this year to focus on special events during the week and will no longer highlight farms that are not doing an event on their farm unique to Open Farm Week. For example, rather than listing a farm stand as open throughout the week as an Open Farm Week event, each farm will be required to have a special activity in addition that is not part of their regular farm schedule. Examples of eligible events include farming demonstrations, cooking demonstrations and tastings, farm dinners, and open houses with farmer-led tours. Feel free to get creative and if you want to include a standing event you usually host during that week, we’re just asking that you provide a special addition to the event that we can highlight for Open Farm Week.

Cost to Participate: There is now a cost for farms to participate. This $50 fee covers the signage and promotional materials that we will ship directly to your business as well as a portion of staff time dedicated to promoting your event. Additional promotion of individual events will be provided by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing this year. Each participant will have the opportunity to submit photos, videos and text for Instagram (2 posts per farm), Twitter (3 posts per farm) and Facebook (1 post per farm) by VDTM. 

Featured Farms: For farms interested in being a featured Open Farm Week Farm, you can pay an additional $20. For this fee, DigInVT will boost a Facebook post (a full match of $20) promoting your event to a targeted audience and your farm will be prioritized in our media outreach. 

Technical Assistance: Our Open Farm Week team is available to provide resources & technical assistance to a limited number of farms that would like support developing ideas and preparing for visitors. Vera Simon-Nobes of the Farm-Based Education Network and Lisa Chase of UVM Extension can help you develop an event that's right for your farm and community, along with a timeline, marketing plan, and safety plan. There is no additional charge for this technical assistance, but you do need to apply for it by May 15th - see question #6 to sign up. 

Open Farm Week Promotional Materials: We will provide lawn signs, posters, and postcards out to all farms that sign-up before July 1st. Materials will be mailed directly to your farm. 

Farmer sign-up for Open Farm Week is open until June 30, 2017. For anyone who signs up after June 30th, event organizers can not guarantee that your farm will be included in the collective outreach efforts. We can still list your event online, and we will try to provide you with a sign and marketing materials but there is no guarantee.

For resources and additional tips on hosting events on your farm, please visit www.uvm.edu/vtagritourism. Open Farm Week is a great way to engage with customers and your community. We'll provide you with outreach tools, like suggested social media posts, a lawn sign, and posters and postcards to distribute in your area, however, you will be responsible for the local promotion of your event. Our Open Farm Week team is happy to work with farms that want support developing ideas and preparing for visitors. Please sign up for technical assistance via the registration form, or feel free to reach out to some of our team members with quick questions:

Erin Buckwalter at NOFA-VT: erin@nofavt.org or 802-434-4122
Grace Meyer at Vermont Fresh Network: grace@vermontfresh.net or 802-434-2000
Lisa Chase at UVM Extension: Lisa.Chase@uvm.edu or 802-257-7967

Please let us know if you have any questions!

Best wishes,
The 2017 Open Farm Week Organizing Team

(Sarah Bhimani, City Market; Erin Buckwalter, NOFA-VT and the Vermont Farmers Market Association; Lisa Chase, UVM Extension; Jake Claro, Farm to Plate Network; Grace Meyer, Vermont Fresh Network & DigInVT; Hilary DelRoss & Philip Tortora, Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing; Vera Simon-Nobes, Shelburne Farms, Farm-Based Education Network and the Vermont Farm to Plate Network Agritourism Task Force; Alissa Mathews, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets)

Please take the time to review these resources for a safe and successful Open Farm Week! 

Vermont Harvest of the Month - they'll send free posters to Open Farm Week farms who choose to do an activity having to do with Tomatoes - the August Harvest of the Month!
A Best Practices Guide for Managing Safety and Risk
General Farm Visit Checklist (Day-of)
Animal Safety Checklist
Farm Building Safety Checklist
Emergency Response Checklist
Parking and Traffic Assessment 
Basic First Aid Kit Contents  
Farm Animals and Visitors
Keeping Passengers Safe on Hay Rides
Agritourism Questions to Clarify with Your Insurer
Sample Hazard Incident Report Form