6 benefits to farmers who provide public access
New Zealand farmers are developing innovative ways to blend agriculture with tourism and conservation. Allowing public access on farms brings economic, social, and environmental advantages. It’s an idea that’s gaining momentum with farmers.
Farming is both crucial and challenging. And, in the face of recent negative press, you might feel like fellow New Zealanders and tourists don’t understand the job you do. One way to overcome this urban-rural divide is to establish public walking and cycling tracks on farms.
Here are six reasons you should consider having a public walkway or cycleway on your farm.
1. Showcase your land
Public access to your farm offers an opportunity for you to reestablish the image of farmers in the eyes of the public. Many people only know about farming these days through the media – where they see stories about water quality, land use and animal welfare issues. By letting people connect directly with the land, you can showcase your commitment to caring for animals and your responsible land management. This, in turn, can improve public perception of farming and support for the agricultural sector.
2. Help your community
Building public tracks fosters a sense of community engagement and local pride. Public tracks serve as meeting points for residents and tourists. They are a place people can gather and learn about each other. Farmers with public tracks on their land demonstrate their commitment to building relationships between rural families and visitors.
Farmers who support public access on their land often report that having friendly, law-abiding recreationists walking or cycling on their land reduces the likelihood of antisocial behaviour and increases the likelihood that someone tells them if they see something wrong. The close relationships between farmers, volunteer trail-building groups and conservation groups also strengthen local communities.
3. Protect the environment
Creating public walking tracks is a great way to show other people the work you’re doing to conserve and enhance the environment. It’s also a fantastic way of involving the local community in pest management. These tracks serve as educational tools, teaching visitors about local ecosystems, sustainable farming practices and wildlife habitats. You can work with volunteers in your community to preserve native plants and protect natural waterways while sharing your knowledge with locals and visitors.
4. Income from tourists
There are peripheral economic benefits that come from giving free, enduring public access to visiting walkers and cyclists. . Agriculture can be unpredictable due to changing global markets and volatile weather. One of the incentives for to develop a public walking track on your farm is the potential for new income streams in your community
New Zealand is a magnet for tourists seeking natural beauty and outdoor experiences. Farming communities can tap into the thriving tourism industry. Walking and cycling tracks allow visitors to immerse themselves in these landscapes. Cyclists and walkers are great tourists for local communities because they spend much more time — and therefore need more accommodation, meals and equipment rentals — than tourists on bus tours or cruise ships. These visitors can get deeper into the rural heartland, bringing revenue and economic growth to rural communities.
5. Health and wellbeing
Walking, biking and spending time outdoors have numerous physical and mental health benefits. By creating public walking tracks, farmers support their communities’ wellbeing. Tracks provide a safe and fun space for exercise and relaxation. They connect people to nature, and they promote a healthy lifestyle.
6. A legacy for our kids
When you develop public access on your farm, you create a legacy beyond your working life. Your track become a part of New Zealand’s cultural and recreational fabric, enhancing the lives of future generations. By connecting people to the land, you help preserve rural traditions. With luck, you inspire other New Zealanders to support and even become farmers.
Farmers can showcase modern, innovative NZ farming by connecting people — locals and visitors — to traditional farm values of hospitality, openness and generosity. By opening your gates to the public, you invite people to see the harmonious relationship your family, your animals and your land.
If you would like information on establishing public access on your farm, you can contact one of our regional field advisors.