Slide into your finest RM Williams boots, button up that freshly ironed checked shirt, grab your kids and head on down to Lardner Park and celebrate the 50th birthday of Farm World.
Victoria’s premier regional agricultural event is celebrating this momentous milestone by presenting four days of exhibitions, activations, conferences and workshops, product presentations and demonstrations, networking opportunities, retail shopping and events-within-events such as the Women in Agriculture Luncheon, Equestrian Expo, working dogs, conference forums, the Food & Fibre Fiesta Market and much more.
In 1963, some local farmers collaborated to exhibit farm machinery on a property close to Longwarry, and for the next four years this concept continued, but it was without a fixed site. Then, in 1967 a tract of land was contributed by some farmers to form what’s now known as Lardner Park. The original parcel of land
was expanded through bequeathing from neighbours, who passed on, but were passionate about the event,
together with additional purchasing done by Lardner Park, then known as The Gippsland Field Days.
Now, the land holding is an established destination of 300 acres and consists of a modern convention centre capable of hosting up to 1,000 delegates, over 5000sqm of undercover pavilion space, boardroom
and meeting facilities, a picturesque lake, 4WD area, cattle yards, historic rotunda (the original Dry Stock Ring from Warragul Saleyards), steer trials, sheep agisting, an agroforestry plantation, and R&D crops.
Lardner Park has been such a successful venue for Farm World (not to mention the music festival Beyond The Valley and the recent Gippsland Food Truck Carnival) thanks to its ideal location; six minutes from the Princes Freeway, 10 minutes from Warragul and Drouin and just a whisker over an hour from central Melbourne.
Fifty years of operation is a heck of an achievement – one that the team behind Farm World put down to a love for the event by both exhibitors and patrons. Farm World 2017 is almost entirely sold out with over 900 exhibitors – testament to the commitment of exceptional exhibitors. In fact, several exhibitors have been attending every year! Remaining relevant is important and Farm World has a future focus of keeping approximately 80% the same and changing around 20% every year, so that the latest in technology is available, every year sees a changing program in the main convention building and every couple of years a new event is launched.
Farm World’s primary audience (agriculture industry) are well supported by secondary audiences (tools, horticulture, equine, construction, retail shopping, local Government services, etc.). Every year the organisers keep the event topical and relevant to the current industry requirements, growth areas, and
challenges being experienced, with 2017 featuring “Food & Fibre”. A constant desire for feedback and data collection, both in regularly liaising with exhibitors and engaging with the visiting audience regularly for their feedback, is a big priority for Lardner Park, and the continued and future development of Farm World.
Today’s Farm World reaches out to a multi-generational audience: professional and lifestyle farmers, DIY’ers, ‘rurapolitans’ (living rural/working metro), tradies, equine lovers, foodies and shoppers.
It’s an audience that’s part rural, peri-urban, and pure urbanites, all wanting to experience ‘the source’
of agriculture, with a desired connection to their food supply. It serves an integral role in facilitating networking, peer social engagement, informative product demonstrations, and a wide range of how-to
This year’s event has information sessions and presentations that include lessons on how to take fabulous food photography, cooking with essential oils, home composting, bread and cheese making, fibre demonstrations for weaving, and two fantastic cooking demonstrations by Alejandro Saravia of Melbourne restaurant Pastuso, who is passionate about connecting Gippsland producers directly with Melbourne restaurants. A conference forum by the Society of Precision Agriculture Australia and the Young Farmers Ministerial Advisory Council, focusing on precision technology and data management to drive increased farming outputs for smaller farmers will present case studies will present how smaller farmers are collaborating to access precision technology assumed only accessible to ‘big-farming’, and will finish with a focus on social media and how farmers are utilising this medium to drive their business. Many of the exhibitors also run their own information sessions and demonstrations. The Equestrian Expo has a wide range of ‘masterclasses’.
There’s the launch of a new program called AgriKidz, which intends to bring young rural, peri-urban and metro children and youth together to learn and participate in a wide range of issues; such as water safety on farms, developing worm farms, early finance as a farmer, ‘what happens behind the supermarket shelf’ (teaching metro kids about food sources). They can also participate in additional events throughout the year, such as Lardner Park Steer Trials weighing days, shearing days, silage demonstrations and more.
As Farm World moves into its next 50 years the focus transitions to holistic sustainability – environmental, social and financial, in order to achieve the right balance of community and commercial benefits.
The team behind Lardner Park strive to provide a destination that can sustainably deliver locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Lardner Park wants to provide expanded job opportunities to the community through growth, commercial opportunities for local businesses in providing goods and services, dynamic choices of entertainment and be a leading knowledge facilitator for Gippsland through developing and delivering conferences and exhibitions.
In future Lardner Park flags development of onsite accommodation as a priority as it underpins the attraction of premier conferences. This type of business has a multiplier effect to wider Gippsland, as attendees are more inclined to bring partners and spend additional days exploring tourism opportunities in the region. Lardner Park is building its gourmet catering capability, which is a very important factor to conferences seeking regional experiences.
Lardner Park are also seeking to work with partners to develop on-site developments that might include further agri-tourism opportunities, campus-style learning options, walking and cycling tracks or expanded 4WD activations – all of which will ultimately present a highly cohesive and exciting regional destination, comparable with anything in the world today – truly a ‘farm world’ if you will.
For more information on Farm World, visit lardnerpark.com.au/farm-world.