A Wairarapa farming couple's idea to add a 'town meets country' flavour to National Lamb Day drew hundreds of responses.
Matt and Lynley Wyeth, who run the family's Spring Valley farm in the Kaituna Valley, saw the May 24 event as a chance for farmers to bridge the urban-rural disconnect and show some town folk how modern agriculture looks after the environment and animal welfare while producing top quality produce.
In a Facebook post in late April, the Federated Farmers members challenged other sheep and beef farmers around the nation to pick up on their 'Invite a Townie to Dinner' campaign.
With lamb the hero at the dining table, "show them some features of your farm you are proud of - pasture, plantings, waterways and the work you do in the community".
The campaign fired up plenty of interest.
"We had a lot of contact from other farmers around the country," Lynley said. "Even rural community groups got back to us and said they were going to do it as pot luck sort of thing, or hosting a big barbecue.
"We didn't expect it would go over so big."
As to their own invitation to a townie family to come and have lamb for dinner at their farmhouse on Thursday, there was no shortage of people wanting to tuck in.
"We had hundreds say they'd love to come," Lynley said.
When the Wellington couple they selected had to pull out because of a clash of commitments, the Wyeths picked a young couple from Masterton with a six-month-old baby. The newly-appointed principal of a local school has also been invited.
The forecast says Thursday's weather will be foul, so Lynley has ditched her original idea of lamb steaks and salad in favour of a trio of steaks entrée ("naked", with salt & pepper, and with Moroccan seasoning), followed by a rack of barbecued lamb served with roasted vegetables.
The guests will work up an appetite joining the couple and their kids to check out the farm's streams, woolshed and flocks.
Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson congratulated the Wyeths on their initiative. "It's a great way of fostering a better understanding of what farming the New Zealand way is all about - not to mention promoting our tasty and succulent lamb," he said.
Lynley said Beef & Lamb NZ is investigating picking up the 'Invite a Townie to Dinner' concept for future National Lamb Days.