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LEAF Open Farm Sunday is “healthy”

Whether it is healthy soil, healthy food or a healthy mind, LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) returns this June with a focus on the many health benefits that can be found on farm. Organisers of the farming industry’s annual open day, Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) are calling on farmers to take part and organise their own event to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to sustainability, biodiversity, climate mitigation, nutritious food and a well-managed countryside.

Tak­ing place on Sun­day 12th June 2022, it is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for every farmer to plan their own event, engage their local com­mu­ni­ty, share their farm­ing sto­ry, dis­pel mis­con­cep­tions and give vis­i­tors a huge­ly pos­i­tive, mem­o­rable experience.

More than 100 events took place in 2021, under Covid-safe guide­lines, and pri­or to the pan­dem­ic over 350 farms across Britain, cov­er­ing all agri­cul­tur­al sec­tors, opened each year. 

Annabel Shack­le­ton, LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Man­ag­er explains the impor­tance of the event,

Last year we launched our new 10-year strat­e­gy at LEAF, with a com­mit­ment to dri­ving more sus­tain­able cir­cu­lar agri­cul­ture through cli­mate, nature, the econ­o­my and soci­ety. In addi­tion, COP26, and the recent Nation­al Food Strat­e­gy has drawn atten­tion to the impact of farm­ing and food pro­duc­tion on cli­mate change. Whilst we have the public’s atten­tion, it is more impor­tant than ever that we feed their enthu­si­asm and interest. 

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is the per­fect way for vis­i­tors to real­ly under­stand what best prac­tice looks like and how farm­ers, and the food sec­tor are part of the solu­tion, deliv­er­ing for our health and the health of the plan­et — through the food we eat and the fresh air and coun­try­side that we enjoy.”

Every farm has some­thing of inter­est for vis­i­tors, whether it is talk­ing about land­scape and nature con­ser­va­tion, soil and water man­age­ment, grass, crop health and pro­tec­tion, ani­mal hus­bandry, ener­gy effi­cien­cies or diver­si­fi­ca­tion. A range of free resources are avail­able from LEAF and LOFS spon­sors to sup­port host farm­ers, includ­ing a host farm­ers’ hand­book, activ­i­ty crib sheets and tem­plate guides, for risk assess­ments and writ­ing a press release, plus guid­ance on using an online tick­et­ing ser­vice to man­age vis­i­tor numbers.

In addi­tion, a series of inter­ac­tive online Zoom meet­ings for farm­ers want­i­ng to find out more about host­ing an event this June, are being held on the 1st Thurs­day of each month. Host­ed by the team of expe­ri­enced LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Ambas­sadors, top­ics cover:

  • Feb­ru­ary 3rd – Plan­ning and mar­ket­ing your LOFS event
  • March 3rd – Man­ag­ing vis­i­tor num­bers, includ­ing ticketing 
  • April 7th – Pro­mot­ing your event and mak­ing use of LOFS free resources 
  • May 5th – Final words of wisdom!

Annabel’s LOFS top tip is to keep it sim­ple, plan­ning the day based on what you have on farm,

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is YOUR event, YOUR sto­ry and YOUR chance to share it with the wider pub­lic. Con­cen­trate on what you feel com­fort­able shar­ing — you don’t need to talk about every enter­prise in the UK, nor open your whole farm. You have full con­trol to man­age what vis­i­tors see, how long you run your event for and who you invite. Some hosts hold a pri­vate event for a local group, whilst oth­ers are much more public.

Most impor­tant­ly, enjoy the day! By com­ing togeth­er in June, we can demon­strate a very pow­er­ful mes­sage about the vital role that agri­cul­ture plays in ensur­ing our land­scape, peo­ple and econ­o­my remains healthy, now and for the future.”

Farm­ers do not need to be mem­bers of LEAF to take part, but they do need to reg­is­ter their event at www​.farm​sun​day​.org, where they can also access an infor­ma­tion pack and book to attend the Zoom meetings.

Top Tips for a first-time host farmer

  1. Down­load the Infor­ma­tion Pack
    Vis­it www​.farm​sun​day​.org and down­load the Infor­ma­tion Pack which will help you get started.
  2. Get in touch
    If you have any ques­tions get in touch with the LEAF Open Farm Sun­day team via 02476 413911 or email LOFS@leaf.eco. A range of expe­ri­enced LOFS Ambas­sadors are on hand to answer your ques­tions and talk through event ideas.
  3. Start small
    Start with some­thing small like a farm walk for a lim­it­ed num­ber of peo­ple. You can always add in a few activ­i­ties for exam­ple, in a wheat field ask them to guess how many loaves of bread can be made from one metre square – LEAF has a data sheet with the answer!
  4. Man­age vis­i­tor num­bers
    Con­sid­er using the LEAF Open Farm Sun­day (Try­Book­ing) tick­et­ing sys­tem to man­age vis­i­tor num­bers with timed tick­ets, along­side oth­er ben­e­fits such as con­tact­ing atten­dees before they vis­it with your event infor­ma­tion and what to expect on the day. This gives you added con­trol and con­fi­dence when plan­ning your day, whether it is for 20 peo­ple or 200.
  5. Keep it short
    You don’t need to run the event for a whole day, a few hours is suf­fi­cient — just make sure you clear­ly adver­tise this on all your pro­mo­tion­al materials.
  6. Reg­is­ter your event
    Vis­it www​.farm​sun​day​.org to reg­is­ter your event free of charge and once reg­is­tered you will receive a copy of the host farmer hand­book with lots of infor­ma­tion to sup­port your planning.
  7. Col­lab­o­rate and plan
    Invite oth­er local farm­ers and friends to sup­port you. Even if you are host­ing a farm walk, writ­ing down some short notes will help ensure you don’t miss any­thing you want to share. Props are use­ful too and remem­ber to avoid jar­gon, you will be amazed how con­fused chil­dren can get when you say we feed our sheep cake’”!
  8. Keep it sim­ple
    Con­cen­trate on your sto­ry and what you feel com­fort­able shar­ing, you don’t need to tell the sto­ry of every type of farm in the UK. Work with what you have at your farm, every day farm activ­i­ties can cre­ate some of the most pro­found mem­o­ries for your vis­i­tors. Remem­ber LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is YOUR event, YOUR sto­ry and YOUR farm­ing expe­ri­ence.
    Join in the online con­ver­sa­tions:
    Face­book: @ LEAFOpen­Farm­Sun­day
    Insta­gram: @OpenFarmSunday

You can read the full press release here.

Prin­ci­pal spon­sors of LEAF Open Farm Sun­day include: AHDB, Arla Foods, Asda, BASF, Co-op, Defra, Farm­ers Week­ly, Fron­tier Agri­cul­ture, John Deere, Kellogg’s, LEAF Mar­que, NFU, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
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