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NEW poll shows now is the time for farmers to open their gates to the public

In preparation for the 15th anniversary of its Open Farm Sunday event, Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) undertook research to determine how British people feel about visiting our nation’s farms.

The online research, con­duct­ed in Octo­ber 2019, revealed 91% of respon­dents felt it is more impor­tant than ever for farm­ers to open their farms to the pub­lic. The poll attract­ed 522 respons­es from both con­sumers and indus­try with com­ments including:

  • As a per­son brought up on a coun­cil estate in a city, it wasn’t until I moved away to rur­al set­tings did I appre­ci­ate our coun­try­side.” (a consumer) 
  • It is very impor­tant for day-to-day engage­ment between farm­ers and pub­lic.” (a consumer). 
  • From all the thou­sands of vis­i­tors over the last 20 years, the most com­mon com­ment is an admi­ra­tion of how com­plex and sci­en­tif­ic agri­cul­ture / land man­age­ment is and how much peo­ple appre­ci­ate what we do.” (a farmer)

Com­ment­ing on the find­ings, Annabel Shack­le­ton, LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Man­ag­er said: The poll results sup­port the find­ings from our 2019 vis­i­tor impact sur­vey which found 93% of con­sumers feel more con­nect­ed to the farm­ers who pro­duce their food after vis­it­ing a farm on LEAF Open Farm Sun­day, an increase of 7% from 2018.

She added: The gen­er­al pub­lic are increas­ing­ly more curi­ous and inter­est­ed in how their food is grown and what farm­ers are doing to pro­tect and enhance the coun­try­side. By offer­ing them the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it a farm, we can dis­pel myths and pro­vide con­sumers with the con­fi­dence and rea­sons to buy British produce.”

The research also found 97% of vis­i­tors were more appre­cia­tive of the work farm­ers do (92% in 2018) with 92% report­ing they have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the term sus­tain­ably pro­duced food.”

One vis­i­tor com­ment­ed, As par­ents and adults we need to be re-edu­cat­ed before it’s too late and yet anoth­er gen­er­a­tion grows up not know­ing how to respect and be grate­ful for what we have around us.”

Anoth­er added LEAF Open Farm Sun­day made me more aware of farm­ing issues and how they affect the farm­ers’ livelihoods.”

With reg­is­tra­tion now open for 2020, LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is call­ing for farm­ers to reg­is­ter to take part on Sun­day 7th June. 

This year over a quar­ter of a mil­lion vis­i­tors went out on farm to see for them­selves the fan­tas­tic work farm­ers do as the cus­to­di­ans of our land and pro­duc­ers of safe nutri­tious food. With vis­i­tors cit­ing sto­ries about the farm’, ani­mal wel­fare’ and sus­tain­able farm­ing’ as key areas of inter­est, LEAF Open Farm Sun­day events are an extreme­ly pow­er­ful mar­ket­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for the agri­cul­tur­al indus­try. We are very grate­ful to all those who take part and hope to encour­age more to get involved in 2020,” Mrs Shack­le­ton added.

All farm­ers can take part (you do not need to be a LEAF mem­ber) and you can host an event of any size from 20 peo­ple to sev­er­al hun­dred. Once reg­is­tered you can access a free tick­et­ing sys­tem to help man­age vis­i­tor num­bers along with a range of free resources and guid­ance from a team of LEAF Open Farm Sun­day co-ordinators.

A speak-out tool kit is avail­able for all sec­tors includ­ing arable, hor­ti­cul­ture, sheep, beef and dairy offer­ing some top tips on how to engage with vis­i­tors on farm.

All farm­ers con­sid­er­ing host­ing an event are encour­aged to take a look at the LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Infor­ma­tion Pack avail­able to down­load from www​.farm​sun​day​.org or to receive a copy by post, email your name and address to [email protected].

To reg­is­ter an event vis­it www​.farm​sun​day​.org. A hand­book will be sent to all farm­ers fol­low­ing reg­is­tra­tion which takes farm­ers through the key steps of organ­is­ing and host­ing an event. 

Click here to read the full press release.

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