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Motivating conferences

LEAF Open Farm Sunday Manager, Annabel Shackleton headed up to Scotland recently to NFU Scotland’s annual conference, and joined NFU conference online. Here she tells us more about some of the key messages, priorities and inspiring conversations...

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Man­ag­er, Annabel Shack­le­ton head­ed up to Scot­land recent­ly to NFU Scotland’s annu­al con­fer­ence, and joined NFU con­fer­ence online. Here she tells us more about some of the key mes­sages, pri­or­i­ties and inspir­ing conversations…

It was a tremen­dous priv­i­lege to attend this year’s NFU Scot­land annu­al con­fer­ence in per­son and NFU con­fer­ence online. There con­tin­ues to be a moun­tain of chal­lenges that farm­ers face to feed a chang­ing world, but Britain is blessed with some awe­some farm­ers! Resource­ful. Resilient. Util­is­ing sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, data and demon­stra­tion to pro­duce fab­u­lous food, fibre and ener­gy. Whilst also enhanc­ing the envi­ron­ment, boost­ing bio­di­ver­si­ty, and many are also diver­si­fy­ing with flare! The farm­ing sto­ries have been inspiring.

The need to engage 

For me what shone through the pre­sen­ta­tions and con­ver­sa­tions is the need to engage with our cus­tomers – consumers.

We heard that Minette Bat­ters, NFU Pres­i­dent, said: What we need to be much bet­ter at is pre­sent­ing a pos­i­tive sto­ry of what we do.”

Whilst Tom Brad­shaw, NFU Deputy Pres­i­dent, talked about the need for farm­ers to speak direct with the pub­lic: We need to lis­ten to con­sumers to see what they want.” 

Ash Ami­rah­ma­di, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Arla Foods UK in his inspir­ing pre­sen­ta­tion about how farm­ers need to lead the agen­da on the chal­lenge of feed­ing a glob­al pop­u­la­tion whilst not harm­ing the plan­et, said: con­sumers get it; they under­stand it; but they don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly know what they can do to help the issue with cli­mate change — but its high on their priorities.” 

He added: We need to bring the on-farm agen­da to life for con­sumers — in a way that they under­stand and can engage with.”

The trick is to be able to talk about what we do in a way that engages con­sumers and makes them will­ing­ly want to buy more of our prod­ucts and pay more for our prod­ucts as well.”

Assad Mal­ic from pub and hote­lier group, Greene King pre­sent­ed results from a recent sur­vey of 2000 of their cus­tomers: After cost of liv­ing – cli­mate change and men­tal well­be­ing were their biggest concerns.” 

Inspir­ing future generations 

In Glas­gow ear­li­er in Feb­ru­ary, Mar­tin Kennedy, NFU Scot­land Pres­i­dent and sup­port­er of LEAF Open Farm Sun­day said loud and proud how inspir­ing the next gen­er­a­tion” was a core pil­lar of their work. Our 2022 LOFS vis­i­tor sur­vey showed that 49% of vis­i­tors said that the farm vis­it had inspired some­one in their group to con­sid­er a career in farming.

Boost­ing agritourism

Kay Wil­son, Lennox of Lomond Farm, whose fam­i­ly have been farm­ing north of Glas­gow for 270 years, talked about how out of neces­si­ty their farm has embraced agri­tourism to gen­er­ate addi­tion­al income but also it has enhanced their well­be­ing. The oppor­tu­ni­ty to step back for just one hour a week to talk with a small group of pay­ing vis­i­tors about their farm, giv­ing them a mini expe­ri­ence of Scot­tish farm­ing was pos­i­tive for all involved: the family’s well­be­ing and the tourists love it! As she said: you don’t have to put on a lav­ish event. The pub­lic just love to meet a farmer, to expe­ri­ence being on a farm, to see day to day farm­ing activ­i­ties.” Her fam­i­ly offer these paid-for expe­ri­ences through­out the year, but on LEAF Open Farm Sun­day they look to open for free to give the local com­mu­ni­ty the oppor­tu­ni­ty to see what they are doing on farm.

Diver­si­fy­ing with flare!

For farm­ers con­sid­er­ing diver­si­fy­ing LOFS is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to do mar­ket research and find out what the pub­lic want. For farm­ers already with a diver­si­fi­ca­tion LOFS can help you to reach new audi­ences, build your cus­tomer data­base and gen­er­ate addi­tion­al income.

Hun­gry for knowledge

Dr Food, D. David Hugh­es reit­er­at­ed how the pub­lic are hun­gry to know the sto­ry behind their food. Trust in British farm­ing is high, but the pub­lic want to know what they can do to sup­port farmers.

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day, farming’s annu­al open day, is a tried and test­ed way to show­case all that farm­ers deliv­er and research shows it achieves so much:

  • 98% of LOFS vis­i­tors said they now have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what​‘sus­tain­ably pro­duced’ food means
  • 96% said they have a greater appre­ci­a­tion for, and feel more con­nect­ed to farming
  • 72% of vis­i­tors said that they feel our indus­try is doing some­thing to help com­bat cli­mate change.

Let’s con­tin­ue to wel­come the pub­lic onto our farms 

The LOFS team have the expe­ri­ence, infor­ma­tion and ideas to help all farm­ers deliv­er engag­ing on-farm events for the pub­lic and we look for­ward to see­ing you at this year’s LOFS farmer meet­ings – in per­son or online.

To all our LEAF Open Farm Sun­day host farm­ers: let’s con­tin­ue to wel­come the pub­lic onto farm for farming’s annu­al open day. Let’s show lead­er­ship and demon­strate the amaz­ing work you are doing for the envi­ron­ment, boost­ing wildlife and bio­di­ver­si­ty, whilst pro­duc­ing food, fibre and ener­gy. Togeth­er let’s show­case British farm­ing in June 2023.

Reg­is­ter to take part in LEAF Open Farm Sun­day on the 11th June here.

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