Andrew and Robyn's McLeod's Papamoa dairy farm is in a peculiar position. It is situated within Tauranga City's boundary, watching housing rise and creep quickly towards it.
But on the hand increasingly more of the people living in the city or urban landscape – and these new homes – approaching the farm have no contact or link to agriculture or land like we all did in the past.
“A generation ago or two generations ago, everybody had an uncle or family friend with a farm and the kids were shipped off to the farm for the school holidays,” says Andrew.
“And it's just not like that anymore so people don't have access to those rural encounters like we used to.”
So this is part of the reason why Andrew, Robyn and their children Ella, 13, Connor, 12, open the gates to their farm and show the public what farming is all about each year, hosting the Bay of Plenty Free Farm Day on behalf of BOP Federated Farmers.
“It's great for town and urban people to see what goes on, on a dairy farm – and farming in general,” says Andrew.
“We get a lot of bad publicity obviously from various media – and lots of people are only subjected to the negative slant of the industry.
“So it's really good to show people there is a massively positive side to dairy farming – and what does go on on a farm is not always necessarily what the media is capturing.”
This Sunday, March 19 – for the eighth year – the BOP Free Farm Day will be hosted by the McLeods at their Welcome Bay Rd farm from 10am-2pm.
The McLeods, who milk 400 Friesian cows in a 29-aside herringbone from a 127 hectares platform, will show people how put a set of cups on a cow.
“We'll be milking cows throughout the day, giving opportunity for people to milk the cows and try fresh milk straight out of the udder,” says Andrew, who manages his farm with two staff.
But there will be other facets of farming on show too. “There will be sheep shearing, and hopefully some machinery on display by contractors. We'll have a Fonterra milk tanker here to view; and the farming industry will also be showcased at various stands set-up.
“Sheep get brought in for the day – and if we're lucky we'll get some dogs working those sheep as well.”
Andrew says three years ago they had 1500 people come to their farm open day – but the last few years have been hampered by wet weather.
So, in an unusual twist of fate, we have a dairy farmer praying for sunshine. Up to 60 volunteers, including neighbouring farmers and community groups, help run the day and parking is provided in paddock on the farm.
“A lot of people go to a lot of effort for the day and it is a shame if wet weather spoils the party.”
And there's lolly in a haystack and gumboot-throwing and free colouring competitions, flavoured milk and stickers to keep the kids entertained.
“People give a lot of good feedback about the day – it's great for kids and a lot of adults who haven't been to farms either,” says Andrew.
“We just ask that people wear covered shoes or gumboots, bring a drink, sunhats or raincoats if it's wet, and come and enjoy the day.”
The Bay of Plenty Free Farm Day is this Sunday, March 19, from 10am-2pm at the McLeod farm at 1189 Welcome Bay Rd – and will be signposted from both ends of the road.