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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.

920 visitors

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.”

Top tips

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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