But there’s this other thing going on lately at the farm that really burns my biscuit. I know I shouldn’t get too worked up over it but I just can’t help it. It’s a thing I can’t imagine ever doing myself. It’s the unannounced farm visit. Unfamiliar folks showing up with no notice at our place of work, which just happens to double as our home. It’s been happening often lately and I really need to talk about it because it seems like there is a contingent of folks out there who don’t understand why this is uncool.
One one hand, I get it. People are excited to have a farm so close to home. They don’t often see goats, chickens and dogs that live harmoniously with both goats and chickens in their day-to-day life. They assume that we, as farmers, are here all of the time anyway, so what’s the harm in a surprise visit? They want to support the farm, and maybe offer to help. They are doing a good thing!
Let me explain what I see from my perspective:
Firstly, we are regular people that like to venture from the farm every now and again. We have a system in place that ensures that we can leave for an hour or so for lunch or to run errands, and when we return, things are as we left them. When a random person just shows up, that can all go to shit very quickly. What if someone, upon realizing we are not around, decides to give themselves a tour of the farm and say, falls in the pond or trips on fallen branches or god forbid, gets bitten by one of our dogs who are trained to deflect strange people and animals? What happens then? They get angry and decide to get litigious with us or the property owners? (We have a good lawyer and you’d be trespassing so don’t even try it.) They get seriously injured? Or, what’s more likely, they come to their own uninformed conclusions about how our farm operates without getting a proper guided tour from us.
The idea of any of these things happening makes me incredibly uncomfortable. This is our business and our home, and while we certainly like to promote transparency in our farm practice and way of life, it doesn’t disqualify us from having privacy and being treated like any other person. I wouldn’t just show up to anyone’s house unannounced, except for maybe my grandmother because she likes those sort of visits and well, she’s my Grandma. I’m allowed to do that.
Additionally, we’re working! If we had to stop every time someone just “dropped in”, we’d never get anything done. We already barely make a living. Try not to make things harder on us.
To be clear, we absolutely love having visitors. We enjoy having interactions with new people, especially when they are excited about our farm. We love talking about these things and sharing our experiences. We especially want our CSA members to feel like they can come see what we’re up to and get involved if they feel so inclined. I feel like most farmers in our position feel the same way. We WANT to engage people. We don’t get to go out and socialize as much as we used to, so it’s nice to have some face time with people.
But for those of you who didn’t get it before, I hope you get it now. Do not show up to a farm unannounced, ever. It’s rude. It’s presumptuous. It’s disruptive to the people who live and work there. We have signs posted stating the property is private for a reason. You can be supportive without letting your excitement cause you to lose touch with your manners. All you have to do is send us an email or pick up the phone and call to schedule a time that is best for both parties. We truly hope that you do. Then, when you show up at the agreed upon time, we will be better prepared to receive you, and you’ll have a more enjoyable experience for it.