Managed By LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Logo
LEAF Open Farm Sunday Logo

LEAF Open Farm Sunday is Best Public Access for Public Goods says Chief Executive

LEAF Open Farm Sunday is the single most effective and supported way for farmers to provide public access, said Caroline Drummond, LEAF’s Chief Executive, in an exclusive interview this week (16.01.2019) with Rock and Roll Farmer, Will Evans. Emphasising the benefits of opening the UK’s farm gates for ‘managed’ visits to the countryside – the ‘access to all’ proposed in the new Agriculture Bill - the organisation’s chief also said it is essential for winning over public minds for public money.

There is huge dis­rup­tion in our pol­i­tics, in our cli­mate and in the mar­ket­place, and our chang­ing rela­tion­ship with the EU means any fund­ing needs to be strong­ly defined and cer­tain­ly demon­strat­ed as val­ue for mon­ey. Farm­ing is such an impor­tant indus­try – it holds the solu­tion to improved health and diets, our gut health and our well­be­ing; cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion, and the ser­vices we pro­vide beyond food pro­duc­tiv­i­ty: water, soil and air qual­i­ty, and of course nature and bio­di­ver­si­ty. We are at a piv­otal point and we real­ly need to make sure we, as farm­ers, are demon­strat­ing what we do.”

Defra Sec­re­tary of State, Michael Gove, who reg­u­lar­ly ref­er­ences LEAF Open Farm Sun­day in his speech­es, has pro­posed fund­ing for farm­ers who open up the coun­try­side to the pub­lic. Ms Drum­mond, who works with farm­ers across the globe, knows this is not always practical:

Free­dom to roam is okay but a farm is a work­ing envi­ron­ment, so man­aged access to the coun­try­side is so, so impor­tant. Hav­ing a tan­gi­ble direct way, for one day a year, is a real­ly key aspect of con­nect­ing peo­ple to the coun­try­side. Host­ing LEAF Open Farm Sun­day you have plen­ty of sup­port and resources from LEAF, as well as our spon­sors. It can be tai­lor-made to suit your sit­u­a­tion, as well as the peo­ple you want to con­nect with.”

More than 12,000 peo­ple across the indus­try are involved every year in deliv­er­ing farming’s annu­al open day. For the last three years LEAF Open Farm Sun­day has attract­ed over a quar­ter of a mil­lion vis­i­tors each year. Eighty-nine per­cent of vis­i­tors in 2018 said that they now had a more pos­i­tive atti­tude to farm­ing. Vis­i­tors have includ­ed for­mer Radio 2 pre­sen­ter Chris Evans and HRH The Count­ess of Wessex.

Ms Drum­mond also dis­cussed how bring­ing the pub­lic on-farm is a pow­er­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty to demon­strate the pub­lic goods that farm­ers deliv­er which is essen­tial to gain sup­port from the pub­lic going for­ward for a sus­tain­able farm­ing industry. 

About 88% of the UK is urban so they are becom­ing more and more dis­tant from how we grow our food, the sea­sons and nature. We for­get the valu­able day-to-day activ­i­ties and the excite­ment that we take for grant­ed but farm­ing is the ulti­mate 5‑D cin­e­ma – it touch­es every sense and the more sens­es you touch the more you embed a mem­o­ry. That cre­ates an under­stand­ing, a bet­ter love. The recent sur­vey shows the pow­er of those farm­ers who are doing such a fan­tas­tic job and are con­nect­ing the sto­ry of farm­ing with people’s every­day lives. Often you can for­get how it fits into your life as an indi­vid­ual. The more peo­ple we get out on a farm before the age of 11, the more you have sown a seed that is about an appre­ci­a­tion and love for nature and for farming.”

Time, effort and health and safe­ty are bar­ri­ers often cit­ed by farm­ers for not host­ing their own LEAF Open Farm Sun­day event. Many farm­ers are also con­cerned that they do not have enough to show the pub­lic. Ms Drum­mond coun­ters this by rec­om­mend­ing that farm­ers start small and that there is plen­ty of sup­port avail­able from LEAF, indus­try con­tacts and farm­ers who have host­ed before:

As an organ­i­sa­tion we help and sup­port farm­ers in mak­ing sure that they have an event that they feel hap­py about deliv­er­ing and one they can man­age, and that it’s a great expe­ri­ence — fun, enjoy­able and edu­ca­tion­al – for those attend­ing. Peo­ple just love the expe­ri­ence of going out on farm. If you plan well, it doesn’t have to be too com­pli­cat­ed. Through our tick­et­ing ser­vice you can eas­i­ly man­age vis­i­tor num­bers.”

Ms Drum­mond added that show­ing the range of skills and tech­nol­o­gy involved in farm­ing is equal­ly valu­able in chang­ing the public’s per­cep­tion of farm­ing and for encour­ag­ing young peo­ple into the industry.

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is on Sun­day 9th June 2019. For farm­ers inter­est­ed in tak­ing part, down­load the Infor­ma­tion Pack from the web­site www​.farm​sun​day​.org. The web­site also has case stud­ies and tips for host­ing a suc­cess­ful open farm day. Reg­is­ter your event online at www​.farm​sun​day​.org to access the free sup­port and resources from LEAF.

Lis­ten to the pod­cast on Rock and Roll Farm­ing from Wednes­day 16th Jan­u­ary 2019.

Click here to read the full press release.

Back to news

Sign up to our mailing list(s)

You are now subscribed!

You are signed up to the mailing list(s) you selected.

If you no longer wish to receive emails from us, every email we send contains a link at the bottom allowing you to unsubscribe with one click. Privacy Policy.

Already have an account?

If you are already registered on this site, or you have an existing myLEAF account, then please log in below.

To register or edit your Open Farm Sunday event you will need an account. Privacy Policy.

Log in

Forgot password?

Don't have an account?

Not to worry, you can create an account by clicking the button below. Privacy Policy.

Create Account

Create an account

Creating an account is quick and easy. Simply enter your details below and we'll send you a username and password by email straight away.

To register or edit your LEAF Open Farm Sunday event you will need an account.

Your new account details will log you into both Open Farm Sunday and myLEAF. Privacy Policy.

Back to login

Account creation complete

Please check your email for a message containing your new username and password.

You can use these details to log into both Open Farm Sunday and myLEAF. Privacy Policy.

Once logged in to myLEAF for the first time, it is advisable to change your password to something memorable via the 'My Profile' page.

Back to login

Forgot password

Back to login

Forgot password

Details of your account have been sent to your email address.