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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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