Jeremy Durrant, E W Davies Farms Ltd, Essex
Jeremy Durrant manages E W Davies Farms Ltd, a 1300 hectare family owned arable business based in Essex and specialising in contract farming, growing a range of combinable crops as well as a flock of Polled Dorset sheep. As both a LEAF Demonstration Farm and a LEAF Marque certified business, Jeremy is proud to showcase how he is combining profitable farming with environmental care.
600 visitors | Arable
Sharing what we do
As farmers we are very proud of what we do and like to share it with the people around us. We have LEAF information boards around all the footpaths that cross the farm to explain what we do and have built a platform on one of our reservoirs which is regularly used by local primary schools for pond dipping. LEAF Open Farm Sunday is a great way to get all ages onto the farm, see what we do and learn more about how we produce their food and look after the countryside. It really helps us get closer to the local community in a fun and educational way.
An early start
Planning started in February. As it was just me involved on the planning team and it was our first event, it paid off to get thinking early. My biggest worry was whether people would turn up – in the end we had 600 visitors! I thought a lot about Health and Safety, which turned out to be quite straightforward. Mobile handwashing facilities, which we hired in, were positioned around the farm, paying particular attention to livestock areas. Toilets were also hired but we could have done with a few more — never underestimate the number of toilets you’re going to need!
The science and technology behind farming
I was keen to give people a complete overview of the whole farming business, so involved many of the companies that we work with. SOYL did drone demonstrations and talked about precision farming along with Agri; Openfield and Camgrain spoke about grains and brought along samples and Kings highlighted the role of pollinators in food production. Having such a variety of speakers and activities really helped to open people’s eyes to all the science and technology that lies behind farming.
Other activities we put on included a Make a Scarecrow competition run by the local primary school, shearing demonstrations, pond dipping, a timed forklift challenge, tractor and trailers rides and machinery display. There really was a lot going and certainly something for all ages. Some things were more popular than others, at one point, the audience watching the live shearing was 15 deep!
We used a lot of the free resources supplied by LEAF to promote the event; the flyers went to the local primary school and the gate banners helped catch the attention of passing traffic. The science posters were great too! Signage was really important on the day to help guide visitors around the different attractions. You can never have too many signs and we would definitely do more next time.
Shining a light on farming
Being a LEAF Demonstration Farm is all about communicating, discussing and demonstrating best farming practices. We are passionate about sharing our farm with others and raising the profile of LEAF Marque to our customers. Taking part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday is really an extension of this commitment. It is so important that the farmers shine a light on what they do to produce food and manage the countryside. We’ve already signed up for 2018 and are planning on doubling the numbers!
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