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BLOG: Being a food-producing celebrity for a day

Our Cow Molly is a working dairy farm four miles from Sheffield city centre and on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Here Eddie Andrew shares their story of taking part in Open Farm Sunday.

We have 80 cows which, for the majority of the year, are outside grazing in the pastures.

Most dairy farms milk the cows and then store the milk in a tank for a milk processor like ARLA to collect but on our farm we process the milk ourselves produce cream, churn butter and make our own ice-cream. We have an ice-cream parlour too so there’s a lot to see.

We have taken part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday for years, starting with just a few visitors. We now see in excess of 2000 throughout the day. As the event has grown, we have involved more and more folk to come and help. Our McCormick Tractor came from Barlow’s in Macclesfield and our rep came and spent the day explaining to the visitors all about a modern tractor.

We also link up with Professor Duncan Cameron’s P3 plant science department from the University of Sheffield who spend the day teaching all about soil science with a fabulous twist for the younger visitors - ‘Soil Secret Agents’! - bringing lots of props with them.

By inviting lots of folk we do business with, and all linked with farming to come and help, it takes the pressure off us. We can focus on doing the farm tours which, for us, is my dad Graham with the milking parlour, brother Dan with milk processing dairy and a behind-the-scenes look at how we make ice-cream with Scott.

When it comes to food and drink, we again invite our local farming friends to help out. Moss Valley Fine Meats do the BBQ and Bradfield Brewery provide a great pint of Farmer’s Ale.

There are plenty of materials to help run your event on the LEAF Open Farm Sunday website including a free banner for your farm gate. There are also some amazing sponsors who support the event and can help with easing any costs like a portaloo or printing flyers.

For me it’s missing a 4x4 sponsor so if anyone from Landrover is reading this, it would be great to have an iconic farm machine like yours supporting the events.

There are lots of folk usually willing to come and help out so ask your vet, your tractor dealer, your Landover dealer, your feed merchant, your agronomist or the local Young Farmers Club.

Open Farm Sunday is easily the best day we have on our farm. Your visitors come because they are interested in what goes on and by the end of the day you’ll feel like a food-producing celebrity and definitely some love from folk for the work you do.

As farmers we need to reconnect the public with their food, help them understand what we do and to really value it. I would urge other farmers to get involved, not only because it’s a great day but also because it’s an opportunity to reach more people with our brilliant farming story.

If we can get more farms opening in Yorkshire this June, it also gives the public the chance to visit more than one farm in a day.

If you’re not sure about being a host yourself, go along to your nearest farm and help out. We are always grateful for the help at ours.

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