WORDS: Anne Lee

Canterbury dairy farmer and entrepreneur Rebecca Miller is set to launch an online platform, Land Events, this year that will not only act as a one-stop events calendar for the whole primary sector but also a potential platform for virtual reality conferencing, live streaming and more.

Rebecca knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the fence when it comes to industry events having been a Dairy Women’s Network regional co-ordinator as well as a farmer, alongside her husband Brent. The couple are variable order sharemilkers on Andrew and Rachel Morris’ 1100-cow property at Rangitata and next season will also take on the Morris’ neighbouring 1400-cow operation as variable order sharemilkers too.

Rebecca worked as a graphic designer before farming and has drawn on her computing and online experience to help develop the platform.

She says it was a concept born out of her own experiences and comments she heard all too frequently from others.

“I think everyone’s felt that sense of frustration at some point, when they realise they’ve missed an event – a workshop, a meeting and everyone’s talking about it.

“And I also know how important it is as an event organiser to make sure it doesn’t clash with other events and that you get the message out to your target audience about when and where it’s happening so you get a good turn-out.”

Not one to let the spark of an idea fizzle out without more investigation Rebecca started looking into ways to get around those issues and began questioning just how hard it would be to have one central events calendar for the whole primary sector so that groups could firstly ensure there wasn’t a clash and farmers could have one place to look rather than having to keep an eye on numerous websites.

The more she looked into it the more she realised that such an online site had enormous potential. Her questioning took on a more formal approach when she embarked on a Kellogg Rural Leadership study last year to investigate what sort of need others saw for the concept and what kind of benefits could be possible.

“The study really confirmed what I’d suspected – a need for a single cross sector events calendar on an online information platform,” Rebecca says.

“It ticks a lot of the boxes in terms of what farmers and industry groups told me they needed in the study and it also opens the way to some very exciting technologies that could deepen the experience for both the users and organisers.

“An online information platform allows for a blend of technologies that can build on each other – a webinar leads to a face to face event where there’s also live streaming for instance.

“You can advance a topic and give people a variety of ways to attend and different ways to learn. It also allows them to easily provide feedback and ask further questions.

“Users get to be in the driving seat – they could use filters so they’re alerted to topics they’re interested in, events being run in their location or events run by specific organisations.”

Rebecca carried out two surveys – one of individual farmers and the other of industry groups. She found 81% of the individuals surveyed had missed events because they didn’t know they were on.

“They felt like they had missed an opportunity and information and they were annoyed and disgruntled.

“They also made the point that it wasn’t just information they felt they’d missed out on – it was new ideas and being connected within their area. It was the opportunity to connect with like-minded people,” Rebecca says.

Their responses on suggested solutions included having a centralised events calendar, email notification, txt alerts and reminders, using social media, increased advertising and having a greater lead in time from hearing about the event to when it was run – at least two weeks for most or three months for large events.

Word of mouth and email were the most common ways people heard about upcoming events based on the survey.

“Word of mouth is a by-chance channel for information so it’s not surprising then that a high proportion of people say they’ve missed events but even those who receive emails noted that those too can get overlooked or forgotten.”

Rebecca also surveyed industry groups and found the biggest hurdles for event organisers were funding, low attendance and finding a location to suit most people.

Cross-sector collaboration was seen as a positive to help save on costs, share resources, give a wider scope to an event, increase the chances of good attendance, improve speaker quality and leverage more sponsorship.

“People are connected and are on devices to a much greater degree now and the technologies available are tools we can use to not only attract more people to engage but really add to their learning experience,” Rebecca says.

“It’s also a way to mitigate distance, time and costs for those wanting to be part of events and those organising them.”

Land Events will be launched at the Dairy Women’s Network conference being held at the Christchurch town Hall on May 1 and 2.


• 69% say events currently held by industry meet their needs.
• 7.5 out of 10 say their internet connectivity is good.
• People spend 20 minutes per month searching for events.
• Eight out of 10 believe technology will be important for events in the future.
• Top four technologies people would like to use in the future – live streaming, virtual conference, virtual reality and webinars.
• People find events through word of mouth, email, Facebook and industry websites.