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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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