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LEAF Open Farm Sunday continues to drive public engagement with farming

Following a year in which LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) has encouraged thousands of people to join virtual farm tours across the country, the sustainable farming organisation has reported that over 100 farms opened their gates on 27th June for LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2021 – farming’s annual open day.

For the first LEAF Open Farm Sun­day since June 2019, thou­sands of peo­ple took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it a work­ing farm and see first-hand all that is involved in the sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion of the food they eat and what farm­ers do to look after the wider envi­ron­ment. Giv­en the cur­rent Covid reg­u­la­tions, less farms than usu­al chose to open, with pre-book­ing a key require­ment to lim­it vis­i­tor num­bers, but this did not dimin­ish the enthu­si­asm farm­ers put in to shar­ing their farm­ing sto­ries and show­cas­ing British farm­ing. Most farms offered social­ly-dis­tanced farm walks or guid­ed tours, giv­ing vis­i­tors a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk direct­ly with farm­ers and enjoy a real­ly per­son­al expe­ri­ence of farming.

Car­o­line Drum­mond, LEAF Chief Exec­u­tive, said: A huge thank you to all the farm­ers who opened their gates on Sun­day. LEAF’s Take 30’ cam­paign to encour­age farm­ers to take small groups of 30 on a farm walk clear­ly res­onat­ed real­ly well. Of the farms that opened, 1 in 3 did so for the first time, so it was won­der­ful to wel­come some new farm­ers into the LEAF Open Farm Sun­day fam­i­ly. We also real­ly appre­ci­at­ed the feed­back we’ve had from farm­ers who, for a vari­ety of rea­sons, chose not to open this June, but sent mes­sages of sup­port. Many of them have indi­cat­ed that they plan to open again in 2022 and we’re already look­ing for­ward to next year.”

It has nev­er been more impor­tant that we con­tin­ue to raise aware­ness of all that British farm­ers deliv­er in sup­port­ing our health and well­be­ing, pro­duc­ing nutri­tious food, man­ag­ing our beau­ti­ful coun­try­side and pro­tect­ing and enhanc­ing our envi­ron­ment through cli­mate pos­i­tive, regen­er­a­tive farm­ing. As an indus­try, we need to build deep­er and stronger con­nec­tions with con­sumers, to have con­ver­sa­tions, answer ques­tions and seize every oppor­tu­ni­ty to share what we are doing to address the cli­mate and nature emer­gency. In doing so, this will help dri­ve appre­ci­a­tion, trust and ulti­mate­ly more informed food choices.” 

Ms Drum­mond also acknowl­edged the long-term sup­port from LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Prin­ci­pal Spon­sors: AHDB, Arla Foods, Asda, BASF, Co-op, Farm­ers Week­ly, Fron­tier Agri­cul­ture, John Deere, Kellogg’s, LEAF Mar­que, NFU, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Wait­rose. There is no bet­ter way to achieve sup­port from the pub­lic than by direct on-farm expe­ri­ences like LEAF Open Farm Sun­day – which is why I would also like to thank all our spon­sors for their ongo­ing and vital sup­port, as with­out them, none of this would be possible.”

Defra Farm­ing Min­is­ter, Vic­to­ria Pren­tis MP joined Car­o­line Drum­mond for a tour of Rec­to­ry Farm near Oxford, and said: I am delight­ed to sup­port LEAF Open Farm Sun­day and con­grat­u­late all the farm­ers and their helpers who wel­comed the pub­lic onto farms on Sunday.”

British farm­ers do so much to not only pro­duce the nutri­tious food we eat, but also to care for the envi­ron­ment. It is vital that peo­ple under­stand more about all that farm­ers do and the high stan­dards of food pro­duc­tion and ani­mal wel­fare in Britain.”

Rec­to­ry Farm, which has a thriv­ing soft fruit and veg­etable Pick Your Own, also pro­duces LEAF Mar­que cer­ti­fied wheat, pota­toes and aspara­gus for pro­cess­ing, sup­ply­ing super­mar­kets and also direct sales to local delis and restau­rants. The ful­ly booked LOFS event wel­comed 50 vis­i­tors each hour dur­ing the day to learn about sus­tain­able farm­ing, see the machin­ery used on the farm and meet the Stan­ley fam­i­ly, their farm­ing team and friends – all there to show­case British farming. 

Imo­gen Stan­ley who led the tour with Min­is­ter Pren­tis, spoke of the impor­tance of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the pub­lic: I’m so keen to help edu­cate chil­dren and fam­i­lies about farm­ing and how food is pro­duced. Every­one needs to be eat­ing more fresh­ly cooked pro­duce, and what bet­ter way to do that than by giv­ing vis­i­tors the expe­ri­ence of pick­ing their own fruit and veg­eta­bles, and meet­ing the farm­ers who grow crops on a com­mer­cial scale. It was a plea­sure to meet Min­is­ter Pren­tis, show her round our event and intro­duce her to the won­der­ful team of farm­ing friends who have all vol­un­teered to help tell the sto­ry of farm­ing to vis­i­tors at our Open Farm Sun­day event.”

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day 2022 will take place on Sun­day 12th June.

Faces of LOFS 2021:

Faye Colquhoun, Den­dol­drum Farm, Angus

34 vis­i­tors, 1st LOFS event

We were incred­i­bly hes­i­tant around organ­is­ing our first Open Farm Sun­day event, espe­cial­ly dur­ing a world­wide pan­dem­ic. We soon realised that we had noth­ing to wor­ry about. LEAF sup­port­ed us, advised us and help us set up an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence for our vis­i­tors. Wow! What a fan­tas­tic expe­ri­ence for us too! We wish that we’d known how valu­able an expe­ri­ence that Open Farm Sun­day would be for both our vis­i­tors and our­selves. If we had, we would have done this many years ago! It was an incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case what we do on a dai­ly basis. It tru­ly was the best expla­na­tion ever of farm to fork!”

Tanya Rob­bins, Did­cott Farm, Worcestershire

250 vis­i­tors; 3rd LOFS event

250 booked to attend com­ing from as far afield as Birm­ing­ham, but what’s been love­ly is that we’ve also had peo­ple from the sur­round­ing vil­lages who have walked along the foot­paths to our event. We’ve had some love­ly feed­back – they’ve real­ly enjoyed the day. I’m so glad that we’ve gone ahead and done this. If you get the chance – make the chance to do Open Farm Sun­day it real­ly is worth it!”

Char­lie Beaty, Farm­ers Week­ly Young Farmer Colum­nist, War­wick­shire, vol­un­teer­ing at Rec­to­ry Farm, Oxfordshire

Its been absolute­ly fan­tas­tic – espe­cial­ly talk­ing to all the chil­dren. They’ve asked some real­ly good ques­tions and to be hon­est I think I’ve found it just as reward­ing and excit­ing as they have!”

Tom Mead, Meads Farm, Cambridgeshire

73 vis­i­tors; 1st LOFS3 evening events!

We were keen to host an Open Farm Sun­day event this year and the idea of doing a small book­able tour suit­ed us real­ly well. The farm here is right in amongst the vil­lage, bor­der­ing the pri­ma­ry school and peo­ple walk through on foot­paths all the time, we there­fore thought peo­ple might be inter­est­ed to hear more….and they were! We host­ed three evening farm walks last week, 6 – 8pm, lim­it­ed to 25 per tour. We real­ly enjoyed host­ing the tours for our first OFS events. We had real­ly inter­est­ed audi­ences, with good ques­tions and dis­cus­sion. Lots of chat about where our cere­al crops go, how to grow them, why to buy Sil­ver Spoon sug­ar, pes­ti­cides, soil, car­bon and some of the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties in the farm­ing sec­tor. Every­one stayed around after­wards for a drink and a chat and were real­ly pos­i­tive. We have had lots of thank yous since which gives us a great buzz as we head into a busy har­vest. We will def­i­nite­ly be tak­ing part next year. The book­able farm tours were a great starter OFS for us so we would real­ly rec­om­mend to oth­ers want­i­ng to talk about farm­ing but not nec­es­sar­i­ly host a big event (…yet!).”

Anne Mair Chap­man, Kyp­ie Farm, Northumberland 

60 vis­i­tors; 1st LOFS event

We are over the moon with how our first Open Farm Sun­day all went. Our self-guid­ed farm walk was easy to organ­ise, espe­cial­ly with the infor­ma­tion boards and posters from LEAF, AHBD and NFU. Mak­ing the time in the days lead­ing up to LOFS to posi­tion signs, clear walk­ing routes and plan for the day itself real­ly did pay off. We were able to relax, enjoy the day and talk to our vis­i­tors know­ing that we had worked through our to do” list to ensure that we were pro­vid­ing a fam­i­ly friend­ly, Covid safe, out­door event which we hope will be the first of many for us and encour­age oth­er fam­i­ly farms to run LOFS events of a sim­i­lar low key nature in the future.”

Tim Bar­ton, Bre­wood Park Farm, Staffordshire

30 vis­i­tors; 1st LOFS event

Our LOFS was a great suc­cess and we enjoyed it too. We had con­sid­ered host­ing a LOFS before, but weren’t sure how pop­u­lar it would be as we don’t have live­stock. We opt­ed for a small tick­et only event, lim­it­ed to 30 vis­i­tors. We only pro­mot­ed on local vil­lage Face­book Groups and soon filled our 30 places, and had a wait­ing list! We opt­ed to have 3 themes and divid­ed vis­i­tors into 3 groups which rotat­ed around each group:

  • Farm machin­ery (trac­tors, baler, drill & com­bine) and re-gen­er­a­tive agriculture
  • Bird han­dling with our local bird ring­ing group
  • Refresh­ments and dis­cus­sion about crops and food pro­duc­tion – with activ­i­ties such as match­ing grains to food products.

I would def­i­nite­ly encour­age peo­ple to take part next year. About half the group hadn’t been to a farm before, and they left with a greater under­stand­ing about how we pro­duce food in an envi­ron­men­tal­ly respon­si­ble way. Tick­et­ing means it is eas­i­er to man­age on the day — but needs a bit more prep before hand.

Hazel Andrew, Awnells Farm, Herefordshire

350 vis­i­tors; 8th LOFS event

We love show­ing the pub­lic our prizewin­ning Here­ford­shire cat­tle. The pub­lic are too far removed from where our food comes from. Every­body has lost the rea­son for farm­ing. They think the coun­try­side is a play­ground. We love hav­ing school chil­dren come to vis­it and learn­ing, but we’ve realised over the years that adults need to learn as well. That’s why we’ve tak­en part in LEAF Open Farm Sun­day for the past eight years.”

Hamish Ben­bor­ough, Den­nings Down Farm, Devon

100 vis­i­tors; 4th LOFS event

We were so lucky with the weath­er. We had a great day, with a steady trick­le — about a hun­dred in total. Many thanks for all your help and encour­age­ment from LEAF.

« ENDS »

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, please con­tact Jane Craigie Marketing:
Susan­nah Pâté
[email protected]​janecraigie.​com or 07841 194 897

Rebec­ca Dawes ofsrc.​[email protected]​gmail.​com

Editor’s notes:

For up-to-date cam­paign infor­ma­tion, like us on Face­book http://​www​.face​book​.com/​L​E​A​F​o​p​e​n​f​a​r​m​s​unday, or fol­low us on Twit­ter www​.twit​ter​.com/​o​p​e​n​f​a​r​m​s​unday.

For more infor­ma­tion vis­it www​.farm​sun​day​.org. To keep up to date on Twit­ter fol­low @OpenFarmSunday, @LEAF_Farming and @AnnabelOFS

Editor’s 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 2022 will take place on Sun­day 12th June 2022 and on 11th June 2023.
  • 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.

LEAF is a reg­is­tered char­i­ty (No. 1045781) and a com­pa­ny lim­it­ed by guar­an­tee reg­is­tered in Eng­land (No. 3035047).

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