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Abi Reader, Goldsland Farm, Glamorganshire

Abi Reader is a third generation dairy farmer who manages a herd of 180 Holstein Friesian and Dairy Shorthorns in Glamorganshire, South Wales. Abi always looks for ways to educate people and has mentored many agricultural and veterinary students on Goldsland Farm, Wenvoe. For someone who claims she is ‘not really a people person’, her passion for finding ways to reach out to consumers is remarkable – including speaking with Chris Evans live on his Radio 2 breakfast show! Here’s her story about taking part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday for the first time…

310 visitors | Dairy farm

Being involved in the SOS Dairy Cam­paign of 2012 opened my eyes to how you can influ­ence peo­ple in the food chain and how obvi­ous it was that peo­ple real­ly do want to know more about where their food comes from. I believe that every child (and adult for that mat­ter) should have the right to see and expe­ri­ence a farm and under­stand the work, care and respect that goes into run­ning one. Hav­ing now been involved in sev­er­al events and cam­paigns to get our dairy farm­ing mes­sages out there, I find these oppor­tu­ni­ties very enjoy­able and reward­ing – I even get Christ­mas cards from some of the peo­ple I have met! In my opin­ion we shouldn’t be com­plain­ing about con­sumers not under­stand­ing our indus­try; we should be get­ting out there and doing some­thing about it!

My LEAF Open Farm Sun­day experience

I ran our first LEAF Open Farm Sun­day event on our farm in 2014. Ini­tial­ly the thought of open­ing up the farm to the pub­lic was ter­ri­fy­ing. But there was so much ready-made sup­port out there that I felt encour­aged to go ahead with it. 

What help is available?

I first reg­is­tered our event at www​.farm​sun​day​.org. The organ­is­ers LEAF (Link­ing Envi­ron­ment And Farm­ing) then send newslet­ters with ideas in the build up to the day. They also pro­vide loads of free resources – it’s all there for you! You just have to choose the LEAF Open Farm Sun­day items you think you can use and then order them – from posters to t‑shirts and give­aways – then they arrive in the post – dead easy and free! Using the hand­book sent to me we start­ed plan­ning our event and chose to make scare­crows and nature plates. The scare­crows cost noth­ing, just wood and old clothes. The nature plates cost no more than £10 because we bought paper plates, glue and a few craft bits for colour. We also bought in small prizes (farm pen­cil and note­book) for the chil­dren that com­plet­ed a task. 

I also con­tact­ed my local Envi­ron­men­tal Health team to get some advice on how to ensure we got our health and safe­ty right on the day. They were bril­liant and came out in advance to see how they could help – they offered portable sinks so that we could ensure hand­wash­ing facil­i­ties were avail­able for all our visitors. 

How did the actu­al day go?

The day went real­ly well. We had 310 vis­i­tors. As well as the tour of the farm, the nature plate and scare­crow build­ing activ­i­ties were a big suc­cess, let­ting the chil­dren use their imag­i­na­tion. You can see some of the scare­crows here! 

In addi­tion to help from var­i­ous friends, Young Farm­ers, col­leagues and stu­dents, I also invit­ed our local vet­eri­nary surgery to get involved. They came along and ran a sim­ple refresh­ments stall and also had their own pro­mo­tion­al stand there. It was inter­est­ing to see that whilst LEAF Open Farm Sun­day events are free to attend, my vis­i­tors were keen to make a dona­tion of some kind. On the spur of the moment, dur­ing our day, we put a char­i­ty buck­et out for peo­ple to make vol­un­tary dona­tions if they want­ed to – this also worked real­ly well. With all the advanced sup­port and help on the day, the event was extreme­ly cheap to run; the biggest cost was the pro­vi­sion of por­taloos which cost around £80 to hire. 

What feed­back did you receive?

We had very pos­i­tive feed­back on the day with lots of vis­i­tors say­ing they would like to come back again. I guess the most sat­is­fy­ing moment for me came five months lat­er when I was on a train to Lon­don and a com­plete stranger came over to me. Her chil­dren had point­ed out the cow lady’ to her and she want­ed to come and tell me what a great and mem­o­rable day they had all had! 

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is real­ly easy to organ­ise and such a reward­ing event for dairy farm­ers to get involved in. It def­i­nite­ly goes a long way to con­nect with local peo­ple and help them gain an under­stand­ing of the world of dairy farm­ing, and where their dairy prod­ucts come from. 

Foot­note

Abi finds the expe­ri­ence so reward­ing she takes part in LEAF Open Farm Sun­day each year. In 2017, Abi helped with nation­al pub­lic­i­ty and was the sur­prise guest for Chris Evans to inter­view live on his Radio 2 Break­fast Show a few days before LEAF Open Farm Sun­day. Her pub­lic fac­ing edu­ca­tion­al activ­i­ty doesn’t stop there! She has also been involved in a cam­paign to take farm­ing expe­ri­ences and mes­sages to city school chil­dren, includ­ing a vis­it to an inner city school in Lon­don which made nation­al news! 

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