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It’s never too late to open your farm gates

WITH just over three weeks to go to LEAF Open Farm Sunday, the organisers are calling on farmers to welcome the public on to their farm this June to get the nation talking about British farming.

“There’s still plenty of time to organise an event on your farm this June,” said Manager of LEAF Open Farm Sunday, Annabel Shackleton.  “There is no denying the extraordinary positive impact that speaking to the public about farming, actually on a farm can have.”

“One farmer recently hosted a group of vegans, who bought cuts of beef from the farm shop before they left that afternoon! They said they were following a vegan diet for environmental reasons but having spent time on the farm and learning more about it, had a much greater understanding which had made them think differently.”  

Much of UK food production aligns with today’s consumers’ values, particularly from an environmental and welfare perspective, says Mrs Shackleton. This is why she is encouraging farmers to cast aside any hesitation and make 2022 the year that they ‘dip a toe’ in to hosting the public on their farm this June, to illustrate the positive stories that influence the public’s conversations with their friends and ultimately all their buying decisions.  

Since it started in 2006, LEAF Open Farm Sunday has enthused millions of people across the country about farming in the UK. This has become increasingly important with the sometimes negative or geographically misplaced portrayal of farming in the media, the rise of flexitarianism and veganism, and a greater consumer conscience for buying sustainably.   

“Each event is different to suit the host farmer, grower or crofter, but what is common to all is that it gives the public a real insight into UK farming.  The latest event registration is for an invitation only farm tour in Cumbria for local councillors and their families, using an online ticketing service to manage numbers.”

Jean Glennie, who grows Christmas trees on their 700-acre arable farm in Scotland, hosted their first LOFS event last year and is registered again for this June. She said:   

“We often spoke about getting involved in LEAF Open Farm Sunday but always talked ourselves out of it. We were worried about being unprepared for members of the public coming on to the farm and thinking that there will be nothing of interest to show, but in 2021 we took the leap and signed up. It showed us that what is “everyday” to us, is new and fascinating to them. It has not only allowed us to give back to the community, welcoming them onto our farm for a fun, free family day out, but it has given us the opportunity to tell the Christmas tree story. Christmas trees are a unique crop, requiring specialist care 12 months of the year, something they may never think much about.”  

Herefordshire arable farmer, Ally Hunter Blair, also had his concerns but says that the times that he hosted “were the two best days I’ve ever had on my farm”:  

“I spent a lot of time worrying about what we were going to do, if people would come and what they would ask. My top tip for anyone considering taking part this year is to stop thinking about it and just do it”.   

“I guarantee it will be the best day that you’ll have on your farm. Everyone knows my social media handle – if I am wrong, come and find me! Children just have the most amazing questions, you can’t help but think ‘wow, you’re so clever, I wouldn’t even think of that’.   

“Don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone because that’s when you get stressed, and then you won’t enjoy it – there’s so much you can do, simply. I’d recommend doing what you want to do and start small if it’s your first event.”  

Any farm can take part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday, on any date in June. You don’t need to be a member of LEAF.  The LOFS team are on hand to help you plan and prepare your event.   

A FREE only ticketing service is available to help manage your visitor numbers, plus a useful handbook that provides step-by-step guidance for your event and information on practicalities such as handwashing and signage. LEAF can also put you in touch with a past LEAF Open Farm Sunday host to find out more and inspire ideas.    

Register today at www.farmsunday.org for your free listing and event handbook.  

Make it simple:

  • Use the LOFS TryBooking simple, free online ticketing service to manage numbers 
  • Keep it small – invite a local group you know, the local rugby club or Brownies and their families 
  • Centre it around a small part of the farm
  • Fill your boots with LEAF resources for simple, fun activities and posters about farming 
  • Relax and enjoy the day – you know it all and visitors are there because they want to know it all too!