Farm safety on farm visits

Warm weather means many farms across Maine will be hosting public access hours and events (check Real Maine or local farm websites for hours and details). MAFES’ Aroostook, Blueberry Hill, Highmoor, and Rogers farms will all be hosting field days and other opportunities for public access throughout the summer (see our events page for details). Farm visits are an excellent opportunity to take the family out for some fresh air, learn about local agriculture, and enjoy bucolic Maine. However, it is important to remember that you are guests on fully operation farms that your neighbors rely on for their livelihood. Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry provides a list of “Top Ten Farm visit Dont’s” to ensure a safe and respectful farm visit:

  1. Don’t Ignore Farm Rules

Every farm has its own set of rules designed to protect both visitors and animals. Ignoring these rules can lead to accidents or disruptions. Always pay attention to and follow the guidelines provided by the farm staff.

  1. Don’t Wander Off

Farms can be large and sometimes hazardous areas with machinery, uneven terrain, and restricted zones. Stay within designated areas and follow paths to avoid getting lost or entering dangerous locations.

  1. Don’t Feed the Animals Without Permission

Feeding farm animals without permission can harm them, as not all foods are safe for every animal. Always ask the farmer before feeding any animals to ensure it’s secure and appropriate.

  1. Don’t Startle the Animals

Sudden movements or loud noises can startle farm animals, causing them stress or triggering defensive behavior. Approach animals calmly and quietly to ensure a safe interaction.

  1. Don’t Bring Pets

Bringing your pets to a farm can introduce diseases to the farm animals and create stress or aggressive encounters. Please leave your pets at home unless the farm specifically allows and welcomes them.

  1. Don’t Touch Equipment

Farm machinery and tools can be dangerous if handled improperly. Only touch or operate equipment with explicit permission and supervision from farm staff.

  1. Don’t Leave Gates Open

Leaving gates open can lead to animals escaping, which can be dangerous and create much work for the farmers. Always close gates behind you unless instructed otherwise.

  1. Don’t Litter

Littering can harm animals and damage the environment. Always dispose of your trash properly and carry out what you bring in.

  1. Don’t Wear Inappropriate Clothing

Farms can be muddy, dusty, and full of insects. Wear sturdy, comfortable clothing and closed-toe shoes to protect yourself and ensure a relaxed visit.

  1. Don’t Ignore Safety Signs

Safety signs are placed for a reason. Ignoring them can lead to accidents or harm. Remember all posted signs and warnings to keep yourself and others safe.

Following these guidelines ensures a pleasant and respectful farm visit, benefiting you and the farm community. Do bring your sense of adventure and appreciation for exploring these local businesses we all care about.