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Farmers Stand Proud on LEAF Open Farm Sunday

The public showed its support for British farming en masse last weekend with over a quarter of a million people visiting farms for LEAF Open Farm Sunday. Initial estimates from organisers LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) indicate that over 250k people spent the day at one of the 358 farms across the country that hosted an event, with many farms reporting higher than expected figures.

The twelfth LEAF Open Farm Sun­day once again gave peo­ple the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cov­er all that farm­ing deliv­ers and why farm­ers are proud of what they achieve. Press and media atten­tion was exten­sive with cov­er­age on nation­al radio and TV includ­ing ITV’s Good Morn­ing Britain and This Morn­ing, as well as in con­sumer media. Radio 2’s Chris Evans who inter­viewed dairy farmer Abi Read­er on air, backed the cam­paign by vis­it­ing his local Open Farm Sun­day event and called for more farm­ers to take part next year. Hun­dreds of region­al arti­cles helped pro­mote indi­vid­ual events, with a num­ber of BBC Radio sta­tions inter­view­ing local farm­ers or LEAF Open Farm Sunday’s region­al coordinators. 

This year’s vis­i­tor num­bers took the total to more than 2m since the cam­paign launched. Car­o­line Drum­mond, LEAF Chief Exec­u­tive said: Once again, farm­ers from across the coun­try have come togeth­er to show­case the diver­si­ty and impor­tance of British farm­ing. We have had anoth­er spec­tac­u­lar year, with vis­i­tor num­bers show­ing a clear inter­est from the pub­lic in find­ing out more about farm­ing. This year’s Open Farm Sun­day was a day the whole indus­try should be jus­ti­fi­ably proud of. We called on the pub­lic to get out and show their sup­port for UK farm­ers and they did just this in their thousands.” 

LEAF also wel­comed its Hon­orary Pres­i­dent, HRH The Count­ess of Wes­sex to the Wait­rose Farm, Leck­ford Estate where she toured the event and spoke with staff, helpers and vis­i­tors, as well as speak­ing with ITV Merid­i­an for a fea­ture on the evening news. Car­o­line Drum­mond said Her gen­uine inter­est and com­mit­ment to help­ing the farm­ing indus­try con­nect with the pub­lic was clear­ly evident.” 

As with pre­vi­ous years, the impact of LEAF Open Farm Sun­day was felt far beyond the farm gate. Its Face­book page had a reach of over 280k in the month lead­ing up to 11th June, with farm­ers and con­sumers alike shar­ing con­tent and dis­cus­sion about the event. Video con­tent, includ­ing a rework­ing of the Old Mac­don­ald nurs­ery rhyme as Young Mac­Don­ald’ to address pub­lic mis­con­cep­tions of farm­ing, helped cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant engage­ment. Many vis­i­tors took to social media after the event to share their pho­tos and words of thanks to the farms involved, with more than 500 pho­tos sub­mit­ted to the LEAF Open Farm Sun­day pho­to com­pe­ti­tion in less than 24 hours. 

Twen­ty per­cent of farms that opened this year were in the South West with 18% in the South East. The East Mid­lands (13%), East of Eng­land (12%) and West Mid­lands (12%) made up the remain­der of the top five regions*. One in four farms open­ing for LEAF Open Farm Sun­day was doing so for the first time. Plans are already under­way for next year’s Open Farm Sun­day, which will take place on 10th June 2018, and LEAF are hop­ing the pop­u­lar­i­ty this year will encour­age more farm­ers to get involved. 

Car­o­line Drum­mond said: As the indus­try nego­ti­ates its way towards leav­ing the Euro­pean Union, it has nev­er been more impor­tant for farm­ers to reach out to their cus­tomers and LEAF Open Farm Sun­day plays a crit­i­cal role in mak­ing this hap­pen. We’d like to say thank you to all farm­ers who host­ed events this year, their helpers and our spon­sors. Their pas­sion and ener­gy will go a long way to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to how the pub­lic per­ceive farm­ing and under­stand its val­ue. We’d like even more peo­ple to have a chance to vis­it a farm next year.” 

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day 2017 spon­sors includ­ed The Agri­cul­ture and Hor­ti­cul­ture Devel­op­ment Board, Arla Foods, Asda, BASF plc, Co-op, Defra, Farm­ers Week­ly, Fron­tier Agri­cul­ture, LEAF Mar­que, Marks and Spencer, Nation­al Farm­ers Union, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

Click here for the full press release.

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