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BLOG: Publicity for your LEAF Open Farm Sunday event

Jo is LEAF's Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator for the South East and here she shares her ideas and experience on how to publicise your LEAF Open Farm Sunday event.

Jo North, South East OFS Region­al Co-ordinator

Jo and her fam­i­ly are third gen­er­a­tion ten­ants of a farm in the South Downs Nation­al Park, and they reg­u­lar­ly host LEAF Open Farm Sun­day events. The farm is just shy of 1,000 acres – mixed dairy and arable, with small beef and sheep enter­pris­es; their milk is sold to Tesco, via Arla. 


For many farm­ers, their biggest wor­ry is either not hav­ing enough vis­i­tors or being over­run by too many peo­ple on the day. The weath­er plays an impor­tant part and will undoubt­ed­ly impact on vis­i­tor num­bers, but one thing which is in your con­trol is pub­lic­i­ty and how you pro­mote your event. 

So for me there are two key parts to publicity: 

  • Pro­mot­ing your event to get the num­ber of vis­i­tors you want, plus 
  • Being clear about what vis­i­tors can do at your event so that they come prepared! 

In 2016, 22% of Open Farm Sun­day vis­i­tors had nev­er been on a farm before – so what is obvi­ous to you and me, may be fair­ly alien to your vis­i­tors! If your main event activ­i­ty is a farm walk which is like­ly to be mud­dy, ask vis­i­tors to come ready to walk, know to wear welling­ton or walk­ing boots, and to come with sun tan cream or waterproofs! 

Start at the end!

It sounds strange, but the best way to tack­le pub­lic­i­ty is to first decide what you want to achieve: how many vis­i­tors do you want; where they might come from; and how you are going to reach them. Once sort­ed, then you can plan your com­mu­ni­ca­tions accordingly. 

FREE resources

Thanks to the nation­al Open Farm Sun­day spon­sors, LEAF pro­duced a range of fan­tas­tic resources for you to pro­mote your event. You can now order dif­fer­ent size resource packs to fit the size of event you are plan­ning to run. Order them free of charge here – you will need to log in to the sys­tem to place an order.


Size is everything!

You will need to adapt your pub­lic­i­ty to the scale of event you are organ­is­ing.

Small events: If you want to host a very small event for a select group of peo­ple, opt to hide’ your event so it does not appear on the Open Farm Sun­day web­site. Order the FREE Open Farm Sun­day post­cards which you can use to per­son­al­ly invite friends, neigh­bours, local inter­est groups, parish coun­cil­lors, etc. Ask peo­ple to RSVP to give an idea of how many peo­ple will attend.

Medi­um events: Pro­mote your event in the parish mag­a­zine, on vil­lage web­sites. Order FREE Open Farm Sun­day fly­ers and posters to over­print with your event details and dis­trib­ute local­ly. Use local net­works such as the Scouts, WI, Rotary Club, con­ser­va­tion group, etc. Con­tact local pri­ma­ry schools and ask if you can pro­vide pro­mo­tion­al text to go in the school e‑newsletter to par­ents or if they will put an event fly­er into each child’s school book bag. 

Larg­er events: You will need to start ear­ly and car­ry out plen­ty of pro­mo­tion­al activ­i­ty. Use the Open Farm Sun­day fly­ers and posters and dis­trib­ute them wide­ly. Pro­mote your event in local What’s on guides’. Adapt the tem­plate press release and dis­trib­ute it with a great on farm’ pho­to­graph to local and region­al news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines, your region­al TV and radio sta­tions. Put up Open Farm Sun­day road-side ban­ners a cou­ple of weeks before the event. Use social media to reach out to local com­mu­ni­ties and spread the word.


Make sure you do enough!

As a gen­er­al rule, invite twice as many peo­ple to get the num­bers you want. 

A clear event description

When pro­mot­ing your event on posters, web­sites, etc, give vis­i­tors a clear idea of what to expect. They will want to know what they can see and do on the farm. If refresh­ments will be avail­able or if they can bring a pic­nic. If dogs are wel­come or not. Is your event wheel­chair friend­ly. Will there be any charges or is the whole event free. Most impor­tant­ly, if it rains will the event go ahead and how much will be under cover. 

Of course, don’t for­get to use some mar­ket­ing flair: a farm walk can be pack­aged as a Farm Safari’! A fun pho­to­graph of a cute ani­mal will appeal to many.


Plan­ning Don’t for­get some pub­lic­i­ty tac­tics require long lead times, such as adding an entry to a What’s on’ guide in a month­ly mag­a­zine, or get­ting a fea­ture into a parish mag­a­zine. Oth­er activ­i­ties are more imme­di­ate – it can take min­utes to set up a Face­book, Twit­ter or Insta­gram account and you can tap into the pow­er of social media to swift­ly have your event pro­mot­ed, shared and liked by hun­dreds of peo­ple. It is con­ceiv­able that if you unwit­ting­ly post some­thing that is far more of a draw than you imag­ined, you could end up with more peo­ple than you bar­gained for. How­ev­er, in my expe­ri­ence this has nev­er hap­pened — but con­sid­er what you post before click­ing post’! 

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