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Storytelling: Farming is an inspiring tale to tell

To mark National Storytelling Week (1-8 Feb), LEAF Chief Executive Caroline Drummond highlights how farmers have some of the best and most important stories to tell of all and encourages farmers to share their story on LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2020

This week is Nation­al Sto­ry­telling Week and farm­ers have some of the best and most impor­tant sto­ries to tell of all.

Farm­ers would have been among the world’s first sto­ry tellers, gath­er­ing around fires as they cared for their live­stock, telling tales of gen­er­a­tions past and how the world began. Chores such as plant­i­ng or har­vest­ing would have been made eas­i­er by chat­ting and telling jokes. 

Today, when many farm­ers work in iso­la­tion, get­ting togeth­er with oth­ers is a pre­cious time when ideas and expe­ri­ences can be shared. At LEAF we find that fel­low­ship of farm­ers is the key ingre­di­ent to the suc­cess of our farm demon­stra­tion net­work. There are now near­ly 40 work­ing farms where farm­ers gath­er and share what they have learnt. 

But a suc­cess­ful farm­ing indus­try is one that shares its sto­ries and inter­acts with the wider world and there is a thirst to know more about farm­ing among the pub­lic. That is why over 250,000 peo­ple flock to hun­dreds of farms on LEAF Open Farm Sun­day every year. So, on the 7th June vis­i­tors up and down the coun­try will be enthralled by the sto­ries farm­ers have to tell and the pas­sion with which they tell them. For our 15th anniver­sary year, we are encour­ag­ing and sup­port­ing more farm­ers to open their farms, to reach out to peo­ple about what they do and why farm­ing mat­ters. Sto­ries help draw us togeth­er, they can be trans­for­ma­tive and a pow­er­ful entry point to under­stand­ing the world of farming. 

Sto­ry­telling is key to how school­child­ren learn and social media has intro­duced a whole new dimen­sion to an ancient art, allow­ing class­es to inter­act remote­ly with teach­ers’ through Skype and Face­book live. This explains the suc­cess of Farmer Time, which sees farm­ers reg­u­lar­ly shar­ing their sto­ries with hun­dreds of schools across Britain. Else­where, LEAF Edu­ca­tion inte­grates the mar­vels of farm­ing and food pro­duc­tion in the curriculum. 

Some of the best sto­ries are nev­er told because of the lack of an audi­ence or the con­fi­dence to tell them. That is why it is such a plea­sure to see famers who have used LEAF’s Speak Out Toolk­it open up and see peo­ple respond to their stories. 

Farming’s sto­ry of pro­duc­ing whole­some food, while enhanc­ing the envi­ron­ment is one that finds a ready and will­ing audi­ence. We all have our own unique farm­ing sto­ries to tell – make 2020 the year that you take part in LEAF Open Farm Sun­day and share your farm­ing stories. 

Car­o­line Drummond

LEAF Chief Executive 

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