Alberta family figured out how to better connect non-farmers who wanted to visit a farm with interested producers
FERINTOSH, Alberta. – The creators of the Farmzy website hope the site will facilitate the connection between farmers and farm visitors.
Two years ago, brothers and farmers Matt and Graham Graff launched their website after realizing that people wanted to visit the farms, but weren’t sure how to contact the farmers.
Farmzy is now the official booking platform for the Alberta Farm Days Open, the weekend event that encourages farmers to open their doors to visitors once a year.
“We wanted to create something that could go one step further and make it easier for farmers to create their offerings and present them, but also make it easier for consumers to access a lot of these farms that exist,” said Matt from his Alberta Farm Center.
It was at the University of Alberta that the brothers saw the growing interest in agriculture and local food. Many of their friends and classmates wanted to go out and see their farm, Graham said.
“We realized there was a disconnect. People were curious about where their food came from. They wanted to come and meet farmers, but most people didn’t know how to meet a farmer. Taking them out we saw how much they love being here and learning more about farming and we thought it might be a good idea where farms could open their doors to people and turn it into a business ”, Graham said.
In 2019, their family opened their farm to visitors for the Open Days Farms, which confirmed the growing interest in visiting the farms. After that, the brothers began to research the best way to match the farms and visitors.
When COVID-19 disrupted most large gatherings, farmers with Open Farm Days used the Farmzy platform to help plan orderly visits. By restricting visitors through website registration, the event could still take place and comply with pandemic rules.
“The farm would create a list on the Farmzy platform of the opening date and the number of people in each time slot. Then customers could see if there was a reservation available with remaining slots, ”said Matt.
In previous years, sometimes over 1,200 visitors showed up at the farm at a time, overwhelming the farm and sometimes creating a bad experience for visitors.
“That way, farms have the ability to set their guest limits to a manageable number. They can facilitate the whole day that was not available before, ”Graham said.
After two years of success with the Open Farm Days platform, the brothers felt there was a need to expand the platform to encourage farm visits, farm stays and dining experiences throughout. the year.
Today, over 20 farms use the site to promote their business and help manage farm visits throughout the year.
“You know people driving by and wanting to check things out, but they’re not just going to stop at the door. Now that they know there are tour times, they can make a reservation and tour and that’s okay, ”Matt said.
The next step is to encourage more farms to register on the Farmzy platform, they said.
“We’re definitely at a point where we just need farmers to sell experiences. Our focus has to be more farms than visitors, ”Graham said.
The brothers have been in contact with counties interested in creating county-wide farm tours, similar to farm open houses, but on a smaller scale to showcase farms in their area.
Registration on the site is free for farms. Farmzy collects money if there is a transaction through the platform for a farm visit.
“Any service charges that come in are reinvested (in) marketing and website development. We are very passionate about bringing people to the farm. For us, there are more and more farms. The platform could be used for any farm in Canada. We know we have to be successful in one area before reaching out to others, ”Graham said.
While farms with animals are always a hit, especially with children, visitors are interested in a variety of farms.
“As a grain farm, we were surprised how many people came on farm open houses to come to our grain farm. We really think any farm that has something unique to show people could be on the platform, ”Matt said.
“What is everyday and mundane for some people could have a huge wow effect on others. You forget that it is quite rare and a unique experience for others.
You can find the Farmzy site here.