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James Lumley, Oldershaws of Moulton Ltd, Lincolnshire

Oldershaws of Moulton Ltd is a 2,000 acre business growing onions and shallots for Moulton Bulb Company Ltd in addition to processing and packing potatoes and other traditional Lincolnshire crops of winter wheat, peas and sugar beet. Potatoes go to all major UK supermarkets including Asda, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-op. As part of the farms overall strategy to become more customer driven and improve transparency with customers, the farm opened for LEAF Open Farm Sunday for the first time in 2017. Farm Manager, James Lumley explains more…

2,000 acre farm | East England | 1100 visitors

Reach­ing out to customers

As a busi­ness, we have want­ed to do LEAF Open Farm Sun­day for a few years now but have held back due to the num­ber of oth­er farms in the area that open. In the past, we’ve attend­ed neigh­bour­ing events and helped out so we had a good idea what it was all about. In 2017, we decid­ed to hold our own event.

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Plan­ning, prepa­ra­tion and promotion 

We start­ed plan­ning ear­ly in Novem­ber – get­ting a head start def­i­nite­ly pays off; you can’t leave any­thing to the last minute. Peo­ple come expect­ing a lot and you have to deliv­er. Health and Safe­ty was an area of con­cern. I did as much prepa­ra­tion as I could, com­plet­ed my risk assess­ment and picked up some good tips from the LEAF webi­na­rs. We even had St Johns Ambu­lance attend­ing on the day but they were only need­ed to apply one plaster! 

We knew from the start that we want­ed to organ­ise a large event so we used Face­book and Twit­ter to spread the word and adver­tised the event in the local press. We also ran a poster com­pe­ti­tion with five local pri­ma­ry schools in advance of our event, which gen­er­at­ed a lot of inter­est. The LEAF Open Farm Sun­day web­site was very use­ful as were all the free posters, fly­ers and road­side banners.

Our event

About 1100 vis­i­tors attend­ed on the day, which we were real­ly pleased with. In terms of activ­i­ties, we offered two trac­tor and trail­er rides with a mem­ber of staff talk­ing about the farm, machin­ery dis­plays and the local vin­tage machin­ery mem­bers were on hand as well. We enlist­ed sup­port from a num­ber of com­pa­nies we work with includ­ing Fron­tier Agri­cul­ture and the Co-op which gave vis­i­tors a more in depth under­stand­ing of the busi­ness as a whole. Local farm­ing busi­ness­es also got involved includ­ing Nay­lor Flow­ers who did a flower dis­play and Emmets who edu­cat­ed vis­i­tors about kale production.

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Doing it again

We def­i­nite­ly intend to take part again. LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is a fan­tas­tic way to bring you in direct con­tact with your cus­tomers. As a busi­ness, there is no doubt that it brought a lot of ben­e­fits. Start­ing your plan­ning ear­ly is the key. As there are oth­er local farms who take part host­ing large events, we will do it on a rota­tion­al basis, which real­ly helps to spread the work load. I think for some farm­ers, it could be the fear fac­tor’ that is stop­ping them open­ing; expos­ing your­self to the pub­lic can be quite daunt­ing. To them I would say, the expe­ri­ence was extreme­ly reward­ing and very positive. 

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