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LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2021: Size does matter this year!

On Sunday 27th June, the farming industry’s annual open day, LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) will return to celebrate its 15th event since the initiative was launched in 2006. At a time when food and farming has generated greater interest than ever before, LOFS organisers, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), is calling on farmers to take part and help promote the British food and farming story.

There is no doubt that LEAF Open Farm Sun­day will look slight­ly dif­fer­ent this year. The trend is for small­er events, with activ­i­ties where vis­i­tors can man­age their own learn­ing, such as self-guid­ed farm walks. Every farmer that takes part will still have full auton­o­my to decide on the type of event they would like to offer, for how long and for how many people.

There is also a greater empha­sis on using a free tick­et­ing sys­tem, such as Try­Book­ing or Eventbrite, to record and man­age vis­i­tor num­bers with both sys­tems offer­ing an easy, auto­mat­ed solu­tion. There is also flex­i­bil­i­ty on when events take place. Cen­tral pro­mo­tion will focus on the 27th but farm­ers can choose any Sun­day in June to open their gates and still ben­e­fit from LOFS brand­ing and resources. 

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Man­ag­er, Annabel Shack­le­ton explained why it is more impor­tant than ever to take part,

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day plays a vital role pro­mot­ing British farm­ing, dis­pelling myths and help­ing peo­ple to val­ue the food they eat. We are active­ly encour­ag­ing more small­er events this year. A sim­ple farm walk for 30 peo­ple is both reward­ing and man­age­able for all involved. We know there may be some ner­vous­ness around Covid and we want to ensure both host farm­ers, and vis­i­tors attend­ing, feel safe and con­fi­dent to go ahead. As the­atres, cin­e­mas and din­ing indoors reopens, remem­ber trans­mis­sion rates are sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced out­doors. The farm­ing stage – our won­der­ful coun­try­side — is the per­fect venue to safe­ly wel­come visitors.”

Riv­er Croft in Inver­ness-shire held their first LEAF Open Farm Sun­day event in 2017 and in 2018 start­ed using the tick­et­ing ser­vice to effec­tive­ly man­age vis­i­tor num­bers. Michelle Ander­son-Car­roll explained why it was so useful:

In 2018, we decid­ed to use the LOFS tick­et­ing sys­tem that LEAF offers (using Try­book­ing) and it real­ly is bril­liant! We set up two book­able tours but with a very man­age­able num­ber of 35 vis­i­tors on each and pro­mot­ed the link on Face­book. Both events were booked up quick­ly, but we also main­tained a wait­ing list on the sys­tem. It real­ly helped with know­ing when peo­ple were arriv­ing too. The track to our croft is a mile long with very few places for cars to pass – so before the sec­ond tour start­ed, we asked the vis­i­tors from the first tour not to leave until the sec­ond wave of vis­i­tors had arrived.”

Over recent months peo­ple have become more engaged than ever with farm­ing, nature, where their food comes from and how their food pur­chas­ing deci­sion impacts on cli­mate change

With hun­dreds of farm­ers across Britain expect­ed to take part in LOFS this year, the indus­try ini­tia­tive con­tin­ues to build com­mu­ni­ty con­nec­tions and help raise aware­ness of all that farm­ers do to main­tain the coun­try­side, enhance the envi­ron­ment and pro­duce our food.

Mrs Shack­le­ton said, 

Our research shows that 87% of vis­i­tors on LEAF Open Farm Sun­day found the day changed the way they think about farm­ing from the tech­nol­o­gy required to run a farm­ing busi­ness through to how more sus­tain­able, regen­er­a­tive farm­ing is help­ing to address the cli­mate cri­sis through bet­ter soil and water man­age­ment, reduc­ing waste, using renew­able ener­gy and enhanc­ing biodiversity.

It is also a chance to raise pub­lic aware­ness of the Coun­try­side Code and pub­lic access. Recent­ly there has been an increase in dam­age to grass and cere­al fields that look bare to the un-informed and there­fore deemed accept­able to walk on, but actu­al­ly are home to our future food. LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explain why keep­ing to the des­ig­nat­ed foot­path is so impor­tant, with­out caus­ing con­flict or negativity.”

All farm­ers who reg­is­ter their LOFS event at www​.farm​sun​day​.org receive a com­pre­hen­sive hand­book and free resources There is a net­work of region­al LOFS ambas­sadors and the team at LEAF avail­able to dis­cuss plans and offer guid­ance. Farm­ers do not need to be mem­bers of LEAF to take part, but they do need to reg­is­ter their event. 


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For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, a case study or to arrange an inter­view please con­tact Rebec­ca Dawes or Susan­nah Pâté at Jane Craigie Mar­ket­ing on: rebecca@​janecraigie.​com or susannah@​janecraigie.​com or 07792 467730 . Top tips for man­ag­ing a farm walk has been includ­ed a the end of this release.

Edi­tors’ notes:  

  • LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is man­aged by LEAF (Link­ing Envi­ron­ment And Farm­ing) — the lead­ing organ­i­sa­tion deliv­er­ing and pro­mot­ing Cli­mate Pos­i­tive action, thriv­ing, resilient and exem­plar agro-eco­log­i­cal farm­ing at an increas­ing­ly glob­al lev­el. Work­ing with farm­ers, the food indus­try, sci­en­tists, envi­ron­men­tal­ists, teach­ers, young peo­ple and con­sumers we are look­ing at new ways to deliv­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and pros­per­i­ty among our farm­ers, enrich the envi­ron­ment and engage young peo­ple and soci­ety in a valu­able and mean­ing­ful way. LEAF set up and has man­aged LEAF Open Farm Sun­day since it began in 2006. (LEAF is a reg­is­tered char­i­ty no: 1045781
  • LEAF Open Farm Sun­day 2021 will take place on 27th June 2021. Reg­is­ter to host at www​.farm​sun​day​.org. 
  • In addi­tion, LEAF Online Farm Sun­day vir­tu­al farm tours will take place on Sun­day 28th March and 26th Sep­tem­ber, live on Face­book @LEAFOpenFarmSunday, and across Twit­ter @OpenFarmSunday and Insta­gram @OpenFarmSunday 
  • Spon­sors of LEAF Open Farm Sun­day include: AHDB, Arla Foods, Asda, BASF, Co-op, Farm­ers Week­ly, Fron­tier Agri­cul­ture, John Deere, Kellogg’s, LEAF Mar­que, NFU, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. 

Top tips for organ­is­ing a sim­ple farm walk for 30 people.

  1. Plan a sim­ple farm walk that lasts an hour. If your route is self-guid­ed, pre­pare a map that vis­i­tors can fol­low and place some small signs at dif­fer­ent loca­tions, so they can learn about farm­ing and the coun­try­side. You can down­load some exam­ples from the LEAF Open Farm Sun­day web­site. If your walk is guid­ed, how about team­ing up with some local farm­ers so you can take it in turns to talk about what you do.
  2. Reg­is­ter your event free of charge at www​.farm​sun​day​.org and order your free resources. You will receive a host farmer hand­book that pro­vides lots of top tips and tem­plates to pre­pare for your event.
  3. Set up a vis­i­tor book­ing sys­tem, and set your max­i­mum num­ber of vis­i­tors. You could offer mul­ti­ple walks dur­ing the day, such as, one in the morn­ing, one at lunchtime and one in the afternoon.
  4. Pro­mote your event on your social media chan­nels, or print a poster for your local area. A tem­plate is avail­able and LEAF will share your event on the LOFS web­site if you give per­mis­sion – its optional.
  5. Invite oth­ers to join you on the day. For exam­ple, your agron­o­mist, vet, feed mer­chant or trac­tor deal­er­ship. They could bring props to show vis­i­tors, such as ani­mal feed or wheat seed, which pro­vides fur­ther inter­est when telling the farm­ing story.
  6. Set­up a hand­wash­ing area. A cold run­ning water tap with liq­uid soap and paper tow­els is all you need and will ensure your vis­i­tors remain safe. Please note hand gels do not kill all bac­te­ria on-farm so these are not suit­able. You will find some fan­tas­tic Shaun the Sheep hand-wash­ing signs avail­able to download.
  7. Plan where vis­i­tors are going to park, and have a back-up plan for wet weath­er. i.e. could vis­i­tors meet in an open barn and go to dif­fer­ent sta­tions” to find out more about what you do on your farm. If you are an arable farm you could have three sta­tions – below ground (soil, roots, seeds and worms), above ground (crop, leaves and grain) and food on the table (bread from wheat, Mal­te­sers from barley).
  8. Com­plete the risk assess­ment and Covid risk assess­ment tem­plates, sup­plied by LEAF, and let your insur­ance com­pa­ny know you are tak­ing part.
  9. On-the-day check the route is safe for vis­i­tors, and plan a meet­ing point for their arrival. A warm wel­come at the start is always well received and allows you to meet all your vis­i­tors. If you are offer­ing more than one walk dur­ing the day, have a sep­a­rate fin­ish­ing point and allow enough time between groups to give peo­ple time to head on their way.
  10. Enjoy the day!

Read the full press release here.

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