LEAF Open Farm Sunday was back this weekend, making memories and changing perceptions.
Over 250 farms across Britain opened their gates to tens of thousands of visitors on Sunday, showcasing British farming and all it delivers on farming’s annual open day. Across the country fields and farmyards filled with chatter and laughter from interested and engaged families, all looking to learn more about how their food is produced, the countryside is managed and what it is like to have a career in farming.
Every event was unique, showcasing their own farming story from arable, horticulture and livestock to agro-forestry and fisheries, but all united with the same aim – to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to sustainability, biodiversity, climate mitigation, delivering nutritious food and a well-managed countryside. This year the overarching theme of ‘health’ allowed scope for farmers to play to their strengths and create innovative activities and displays.
Visiting a working farm provides a brilliant opportunity for people to talk directly with the farmers that produce their food, and really grasp what is involved in sustainable food production, a topic that is at the forefront of many households. Aside from learning about the importance of healthy crops and livestock, visitors had the opportunity to discover the importance of soil and water health, biodiversity and habitat management and so much more.
Visitors included two Defra Ministers, Lord Benyon who visited Row Farm in Berkshire and Farming Minister Victoria Prentis who visited D’Oyley’s Farm, near Oxford, a regenerative family farm managed by the White family for three generations. Minister Prentis, said:
“It was a pleasure to visit D’Oyley’s Farm to celebrate LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday. So many farmers across the country are willing to welcome visitors to their farms and showcase the work that they do and it’s an opportunity not to miss.
“British farmers are doing a tremendous job in delivering high-quality produce that is both sustainable and nutritious, and it is wonderful to see their commitment to inspiring the younger generation to enter the industry.”
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager said: “With the public’s growing consciousness around the environment and sustainability, farming’s annual open day is more important than ever, to build support for British farming and food and showcase everything farming delivers. It also highlights the diverse career opportunities available for future generations within the agricultural sector.”
The feedback from industry and visitors has been hugely positive. Ms Shackleton congratulated all involved: “We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who made LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2022 another huge success, particularly all the host farmers, volunteers and our sponsors.”
LEAF Open Farm Sunday is a true collaboration working with our principal sponsors: AHDB, Arla Foods, Asda, BASF, Co-op, Defra, Farmers Weekly, Frontier Agriculture, John Deere, LEAF Marque, NFU, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. All of which play a huge part in encouraging farmers to get involved, promoting the event to the public, as well as support on the day.”
The day was also a fitting tribute to Caroline Drummond MBE, the driving force behind LOFS, who died last month. Ms Shackleton said: “Seeing hundreds of families at events was a fitting tribute to Caroline Drummond, who always loved to see the public on farm learning about this industry we’re all so passionate about. The sunshine brought Caroline’s warmth to so many as host farmers remembered her. At the end of the day, regular LOFS hosts, FarmEco in Nottinghamshire, paid tribute to ‘CD’ and sang along to a band playing ‘Sweet Caroline’.”
Ms Shackleton added: “There is such interest in where our food comes from and now more than ever a desire to better understand all that our farmers do. By taking part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday, farmers can continue to support the public to be more conscious consumers and encourage further support for British food and farming. After yesterday’s tremendous success we ask all of our current and future host farmers to put next year’s date in their diary now!”
Next year’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday will take place on Sunday 11th June 2023.
For more information on how farmers can be involved, visit www.farmsunday.org. To keep up to date with the LEAF Open Farm Sunday campaign on social media, follow @OpenFarmSunday, @LEAF_Farming and @AnnabelOFS.