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.
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.
Sign up to our mailing list(s)
You are now subscribed!
You are signed up to the mailing list(s) you selected.