Nick and Claire Bragg, Frogmary Green Farm, Somerset
Nick and Claire Bragg farm 500 acres, growing potatoes for supermarkets, maize and grass for fodder, but their main ‘crop’ is chickens! They currently produce some 700,000 broiler chickens for Sainsburys to the Freedom Food – RSPCA welfare standards. They regularly host school visits through HLS for schools, local interest groups and farmers. They held their first Open Farm Sunday event in 2012.
“If you’re passionate about farming, there can be few things more rewarding than bringing visitors onto the farm and showing them where their food comes from. Farmers are very good at producing food, but terrible at promoting the good job they do. We’ve hosted quite a few school visits, but really wanted to get the 20 to 30 year old parents onto the farm. So we decided to host our first Open Farm Sunday event.
We started planning early about six months before the event and had a small group of 5 – 6 people to help with planning.”
As well as distributing 2500 flyers to local schools and houses, we arranged with our local Asda store to bring a tractor along to promote the event. As Asda is a sponsor of Open Farm Sunday, we contacted the local store manager, who was really helpful and let us have an area of the car park, where we could talk to shoppers about the farm and invite them along to our event.
On the day itself, we had about 50 helpers, including friends and local farmers, without them, it wouldn’t have been the day it was. A staggering 920 visitors turned up which was better than our wildest dreams! On arrival, we gave everyone a farm map showing what was going on, with a quiz on the back for the kids.
A lot of people in the village had no idea what lay beyond our farm gate and a few thought they would see birds in cages in our chicken sheds – they were really surprised and pleased to see the high standards of production on a modern farm.”
Promotion: we distributed 2 500 flyers to schools and through doors, editorials in parish magazines, posters in local shops and we also took a tractor to the local Asda store to promote the event.
Planning: we registered early and set up a small committee to organise the event. Be as prepared as you can, it all happens really quickly on the day!
Help on the day: have a good team of helpers; we had about 50, including friends and family. Syngenta bought along a box of bees and the local bee association explained all about pollinators
Activities: don’t over complicate things. Visitors just enjoy meeting you and learning how their food is produced. We organised a potato display, a viewing gallery in the chicken shed, soil inspection pits and a machinery display.
Resources: it was great to give visitors a take-home bag which we made up from the free resources supplied by LEAF and the sponsors
Health & Safety: We felt a bit daunted by the risk assessment and left it rather late but in the end, it was fine!
Finances: Overall the event cost us about £500, but we got a lot of free support. The local PTA sold refreshments which raised money for the village primary school.
Questions: A lot of people had no idea what we did on the farm and a few thought they would see birds in cages. They were really surprised and pleased to see the amount of freedom our birds have.
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