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Open Farm Sunday continues to drive forward public engagement

Farming's national open day continues to drive forward public engagement with farming and food production.

LEAF’s Open Farm Sun­day once again sees more than 250,000 peo­ple vis­it a farm | One in five vis­i­tors had nev­er vis­it­ed a farm before | One in four farm­ers host­ed an Open Farm Sun­day event for the first time | LEAF announces new Pub­lic Engage­ment Con­fer­ence for 12th Sep­tem­ber 2016.

With pub­lic engage­ment in farm­ing a key focus of LEAF’s (Link­ing Envi­ron­ment And Farm­ing) new five year strat­e­gy, the organ­i­sa­tion is delight­ed to con­firm that for the sec­ond year run­ning, more than a quar­ter of a mil­lion peo­ple vis­it­ed a farm for this year’s Open Farm Sun­day. The final vis­i­tor analy­sis released today, shows that more than half of the 261,000 vis­i­tors had nev­er been to an Open Farm Sun­day event before and one in five had nev­er vis­it­ed a work­ing farm before. 

The results of the vis­i­tor sur­vey and feed­back from par­tic­i­pat­ing farm­ers indi­cates that LEAF’s Open Farm Sun­day con­tin­ues to lead the way in engag­ing the pub­lic with farm­ing and the breadth of goods and ser­vices it deliv­ers. The theme this year was Dis­cov­er The World of Farm­ing and it cer­tain­ly achieved this with 88% of vis­i­tors say­ing they learned some­thing new about farming. 

One in four farm­ers host­ed an Open Farm Sun­day event for the first time this year, show­ing that farm­ers increas­ing­ly realise the impor­tance of reach­ing out to their cus­tomers to build trust and under­stand­ing in farm­ing. Events ranged from small farm walks, to large open events, with the biggest attract­ing over 8,000 vis­i­tors over the week­end. The aver­age was 683 vis­i­tors per event. New resources devel­oped in con­junc­tion with the Biotech­ni­cal and Bio­log­i­cal Sci­ences Research Coun­cil and John Deere, were used by a quar­ter of host farm­ers to high­light the sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy behind mod­ern farming. 

LEAF drove engage­ment online through its social media chan­nels with 29% of vis­i­tors find­ing out about Open Farm Sun­day via Face­book. On the day, #OFS16 was the sec­ond largest trend­ing top­ic on Twit­ter. Tra­di­tion­al local and nation­al media was also max­imised through­out the cam­paign, secur­ing 1,000 men­tions for Open Farm Sun­day includ­ing on BBC Radio and ITV’s morn­ing pro­grammes, and many farm­ers were inter­viewed on local radio stations. 

Once again, there was fan­tas­tic cross indus­try sup­port for farming’s nation­al open day, espe­cial­ly from Open Farm Sunday’s spon­sors: Agri­cul­ture and Hor­ti­cul­ture Devel­op­ment Board, Arla Foods, Asda, BASF plc, the Co-op, Defra, Farm­ers Week­ly, Fron­tier Agri­cul­ture, John Deere, Jor­dans, LEAF Mar­que, Marks and Spencer, Nation­al Farm­ers Union, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Wait­rose. On the day over 8000 peo­ple helped at events, rang­ing from spon­sors to sup­pli­ers and sci­en­tists to Young Farmers. 

Car­o­line Drum­mond, LEAF Chief Exec­u­tive said: Open Farm Sun­day is an excel­lent exam­ple of how, work­ing togeth­er, we can help peo­ple under­stand what farm­ing deliv­ers – from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear and the med­i­cines we need, as well as the vital work farm­ers do to enhance the envi­ron­ment. As the agri­cul­tur­al indus­try faces a new era fol­low­ing the EU Ref­er­en­dum, this knowl­edge is a crit­i­cal step in help­ing us deliv­er a more sus­tain­able future for every­one and secure the fund­ing and sup­port need­ed. On behalf of LEAF, a huge thank you to the farm­ers who opened their gates, our spon­sors and to every­one that helped make Open Farm Sun­day 2016 the resound­ing suc­cess that it was. 

As LEAF cel­e­brates its 25th anniver­sary this year and embarks on its new five-year strat­e­gy, the focus on pub­lic engage­ment con­tin­ues with strength­en­ing the reach of Open Farm Sun­day, 11th June 2017 and beyond, as well as broad­en­ing the breadth and scope of LEAF’s pub­lic engage­ment activ­i­ties. On Mon­day 12th Sep­tem­ber, LEAF is hold­ing its first Pub­lic Engage­ment Con­fer­ence at The Audi­to­ri­um, Sainsbury’s, in Lon­don, titled How can we make a step change in pub­lic engage­ment in food and farm­ing?  For more infor­ma­tion and to book your free place vis­it: http://​www​.lea​fuk​.org/​l​e​a​f​/​h​o​m​e​/​l​e​a​f​25​/​p​u​b​l​i​c​_​e​n​g​a​g​e​m​e​n​t​_​c​o​n​f​e​r​e​n​ce.eb

To view the full press release click here.

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