LEAF Open Farm Sunday Search

New stats reveal 85% of visitors have more trust in British farming

It’s been a turbulent year for the British agricultural industry with rising cost of fuel and fertiliser, challenges around labour, unpredictable weather and political changes, many of which are still unknown. The continuous uncertainty is something that cannot be taken lightly, by farmers, by the industry, and by the media. With the image and perception of British food and farming ever-changing, it is more important than ever that 2023 offers some focus and direction.

It’s been a tur­bu­lent year for the British agri­cul­tur­al indus­try with ris­ing cost of fuel and fer­tilis­er, chal­lenges around labour, unpre­dictable weath­er and polit­i­cal changes, many of which are still unknown. The con­tin­u­ous uncer­tain­ty is some­thing that can­not be tak­en light­ly, by farm­ers, by the indus­try, and by the media.

With the image and per­cep­tion of British food and farm­ing ever-chang­ing, it is more impor­tant than ever that 2023 offers some focus and direction. 

Over the last few years, the cre­ativ­i­ty of dig­i­tal media has leaped to the fore­front of show­cas­ing very best prac­tice in farm­ing and food pro­duc­tion, mar­ket­ing diver­si­fi­ca­tions, and dis­pelling the lat­est myths of the moment. In a world where peo­ple are dig­i­tal­ly exhaust­ed, LEAF Open Farm Sun­day (LOFS) has sprung back into the lime­light, offer­ing a chance for peo­ple to awak­en their sens­es and tru­ly dis­cov­er the world of farming. 

As Car­o­line Drum­mond, for­mer Chief Exec­u­tive of LEAF (Link­ing Envi­ron­ment And Farm­ing), so often said, We are unique­ly placed as a farm­ing indus­try to offer some­thing to the pub­lic that is a tru­ly 5D expe­ri­ence, touch­ing all of our senses.”

On 12th June, over 250 farms opened their gates for LOFS, wel­com­ing over 175,000 peo­ple onto farms across Britain to learn, expe­ri­ence, taste, smell, feel, and appre­ci­ate great British farm­ing. Farms of all enter­pris­es and sizes took part from crofts and small­hold­ings, to arable, dairy, hor­ti­cul­ture and poul­try, and every­thing in between. 

As an indus­try, invit­ing the pub­lic on farm is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to stand up and show­case the work farm­ers do to pro­duce healthy, nutri­tious and sus­tain­able food whilst also enhanc­ing the envi­ron­ment, the wildlife and all that can be found in the coun­try­side. Doing it as part of LOFS means you get all the sup­port, free resources and top tips from farm­ers who have been tak­ing part for years. 

Its not just about edu­cat­ing the pub­lic. The true impact of LOFS is stag­ger­ing, chang­ing con­sumer pur­chas­ing habits, increas­ing aware­ness and trust of British farm­ing, along­side awak­en­ing a thirst for more knowl­edge. LOFS asked vis­i­tors what they took away from vis­it­ing a farm with­in a cou­ple of weeks of the event, and again, three months lat­er, and the results are impressive:

2022 Imme­di­ate impact:

  • 85% of vis­i­tors have more trust in British farm­ing, hav­ing vis­it­ed a farm 
  • 79% learned some­thing new about farm­ing and food production
  • 72% of vis­i­tors told us they feel the indus­try is doing some­thing to help com­bat cli­mate change
  • Almost half (49%) said it has inspired some­one in their group to con­sid­er a career in the agri-food sector

Long term impact:

  • 98% of vis­i­tors have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what sus­tain­ably pro­duced’ food means
  • 96% said they have a greater appre­ci­a­tion for, and are more con­nect­ed to farming
  • 91% told us they are more aware of, and inter­est­ed in farm­ing issues
  • 81% said that as a result of vis­it­ing a farm, they are doing things dif­fer­ent­ly: I have start­ed using my local farm shop, and try­ing to buy only British products.”

Reflect­ing on the sig­nif­i­cant change since LOFS was launched in 2006, Annabel Shack­le­ton, LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Man­ag­er high­lights the grow­ing trends:

We are see­ing an increas­ing num­ber of farm­ers open­ing their farm gates at var­i­ous points in the farm­ing year, from lamb­ing events to pump­kin patch­es and PYO Christ­mas trees. The recent pan­dem­ic, envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, and events such as COP26 in Glas­gow, have devel­oped a more con­scious con­sumer, who is seek­ing fac­tu­al­ly cor­rect infor­ma­tion to sup­port their decisions.” 

Annabel believes LEAF Open Farm Sun­day 2023, tak­ing place on Sun­day 11 June, is a safe and sup­port­ed way for farm­ers to inform and inspire the public. 

Long estab­lished as the farm­ing industry’s annu­al open day, LOFS offers a huge sup­port net­work to assist farm­ers on their jour­ney to wel­com­ing the pub­lic on farm. There is a team of LOFS Ambas­sadors who are on hand and hap­py to chat through their expe­ri­ences and offer guid­ance so each farm­ing busi­ness runs the event they feel is man­age­able and appro­pri­ate for their setup.

We also offer a whole host of free resources to help pre­pare farm­ers for the event, includ­ing guid­ance for pro­mo­tion, tem­plates, activ­i­ty ideas and resources to use on the day itself, to help inform and enter­tain visitors.”

LOFS is also bring­ing back free farmer train­ing events for 2023, tak­ing place between Feb­ru­ary and April. Farm­ers are invit­ed to come along to net­work with oth­er like-mind­ed farm­ers, learn more about the steps involved in open­ing their farm and pick up ideas from oth­er hosts. Find out more and book your place here: www​.farm​sun​day​.org/​o​p​e​n​-​m​y​-​f​a​r​m​/​t​o​p​-​t​i​p​s​-​a​n​d​-​t​r​a​ining.

Open­ing your farm to the pub­lic does not have to be a huge event for thou­sands of peo­ple. A small farm walk for 30, or an open day for 300 both have a mas­sive, mean­ing­ful impact.

As we move into the New Year, the LOFS team are call­ing on farm­ers to make a real dif­fer­ence and open their gates in 2023.

We would like to pass on our sin­cere thanks to all of those who played their part in wel­com­ing the pub­lic onto a farm, not just for LOFS, but through­out 2022” added Annabel. As a team, we are huge­ly pas­sion­ate about build­ing bet­ter links with farm­ers and the pub­lic, so togeth­er, with a wealth of knowl­edge about the indus­try, we can deliv­er safe and mean­ing­ful farm visits.”

Reg­is­tra­tions are already open, and the LOFS team would love to hear from you. 

Down­load the full press release here.

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