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Open letter to press from LEAF Open Farm Sunday Manager

British farming has got so much to be proud of. The integrity of British produce has never been greater. Yet many people still have little understanding of where their food comes from or how farming impacts on their lives. This can lead to misconceptions, unnecessary concerns and an undervaluing of what farmers do.

With lob­by groups becom­ing more vocal and spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion togeth­er with polit­i­cal uncer­tain­ty post Brex­it, it is more impor­tant than ever to show the pub­lic all that farm­ing delivers.

Farm­ing needs the sup­port of the pub­lic, but it must be earned. Trans­paren­cy is no longer option­al. Con­sumers want all the details so they can make informed food choic­es. We can­not assume that they know that farm­ers pri­ori­tise safe­ty and care about health, ani­mal well-being, and the envi­ron­ment, among oth­er things. We must be will­ing to engage in a dia­logue with the pub­lic, to edu­cate and inspire, to embrace and answer their ques­tions in an hon­est, open manner.

Tak­ing part in LEAF Open Farm Sun­day (10th June) pro­vides the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to show the pub­lic real farm­ing and the pride in what we do day in, day out, and the skill, care and pas­sion that goes into every­thing we do.

Our research shows the expe­ri­ence of vis­it­ing a farm on LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is a pow­er­ful force for change. 86% of last year’s vis­i­tors told us that they learned some­thing new on the day, and four months on, 91% were more appre­cia­tive of the work farm­ers do and 89% said they felt more con­nect­ed to the farm­ers that pro­duce their food.

Authen­tic trans­paren­cy can trans­form our rela­tion­ship with the pub­lic, reduc­ing fear and cre­at­ing a plat­form for build­ing trust. So we need to take time to show the pub­lic face to face what farm­ers do, explain why we do it, answer their ques­tions and bring to life the ben­e­fits of British farm­ing. Hun­dreds of farm­ers do this very suc­cess­ful­ly every year on LEAF Open Farn Sun­day, but to have greater impact we need more farm­ers to host an event for farm­ing’s annu­al open day. 

All farm­ers can take part. Whether your event is a sim­ple farm walk or a full open day; a pri­vate invi­ta­tion only event, or open to the wider com­mu­ni­ty: it is up to you the type of event you host. The impor­tant thing is tak­ing part. Togeth­er we can achieve so much and reach out to far more than the 2 mil­lion peo­ple who have vis­it­ed events since the first Open Farm Sun­day in 2006.

I am delight­ed that, to date, more first-time host farm­ers than ever before have reg­is­tered to open on 10th June — to increase our impact fur­ther we need more… so please take a moment, vis­it www​.farm​sun​day​.org, read our case stud­ies of last year’s first-time host farm­ers, find out what is involved and the free sup­port available. 

Open­ing a farm does take time and plan­ning, but it is so worth it — not just for the indi­vid­ual farm but for the whole indus­try — because if we don’t take time to tell our sto­ry, who will? 

Yours sin­cere­ly,

Annabel Shack­le­ton

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Manager

To read the full let­ter click here.

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