LEAF Open Farm Sunday connects communities with British farming and food

13 Jun 2023

This year, farmers welcomed over 170,000 people onto farms across Britain on Sunday 11th June. Every event was unique, showcasing the whole industry, from arable, horticulture, livestock and agro-forestry to the science and technology involved. Farmer shared the same aim of helping to bridge the farm and fork disconnect and to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to sustainability, biodiversity and delivering nutritious food and a well-managed countryside.

Visiting a working farm provided a brilliant opportunity for people to talk directly with the farmers that produce our food, and understand what is involved in sustainable food production, a topic that is at the forefront of many households.

LEAF Honorary President, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh visited the LOFS event at Hampton Estate Farms in Surrey. During her tour she saw first-hand what farming delivers and met some inspirational young people to hear about how they are forging their careers in the sector. Defra Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP supported by thanking all farmers opening their gates via social media. We were pleased to welcome Shadow Environment Minister Daniel Zeichner MP, who visited MHS Farms in Cambridgeshire.

Annabel Shackleton, LOFS manager said:
“At a time when the public is more aware than ever of the value of their food – in terms of food security and how much it costs, farming’s annual open day is so important. It offers a fantastic opportunity for the whole industry to unite and build support for the sector, showcasing the very best of what they do. Not only have farmers collectively raised the profile of British food and farming, but we have also inspired a new generation of agri-food professionals.”

“We are seeing an ever-increasing desire amongst the public to learn more about where their food comes from. By taking part in LOFS, farmers continue to help change people’s perceptions and understanding of the industry. It is a truly magical day, bringing farming to life for thousands of visitors.”

We’re calling on all farmers to think about how they can get involved in next year’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday on 9th June and have a real, lasting positive impact in 2024!”

Visitor and industry feedback has once again been hugely positive.

One LOFS visitor in North Yorkshire said:
“Had a brilliant day at Wildon Grange Farm today about 20 mins from our home in Thirsk.
Learnt so much about dairy farming. The children loved it and left feeling inspired. My little boy has not stopped talking about looking for baby cows using the vet’s scanning machine and my teenage daughter thinks she may want to go into farming when she leaves school. Thank you so much.”

Reflecting on the day, Molly Biddell, from Hampton Estate Farms said:
“We had an utterly fantastic Open Farm Sunday. It was such an honour to welcome HRH the Duchess of Edinburgh and to show her the diversity of things we do at Hampton. Open Farm Sunday is one of our favourite events of the year, we love connecting with people and demonstrating where our food comes from and what farming with nature can look like.”

Ms Shackleton congratulates all involved: “We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who made LOFS 2023 another huge success, particularly all the host farmers, volunteers and sponsors.”

Managed by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), farming’s annual open day has been a highlight in the farming calendar since 2006, offering visitors the opportunity to learn about food production, farming and the environment first hand. LOFS is sponsored nationally by: AHDB, Arla Foods, Asda, BASF, Co-op, Defra, Farmers Weekly, Frontier Agriculture, John Deere, LEAF Marque, M&S, 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.

Next year’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday will take place on Sunday 9th June 2024.

For more infor¬ma¬tion on how farmers can be involved, vis¬it www.farmsunday.org. To keep up to date with the LEAF Open Farm Sunday campaign on social media, follow @OpenFarmSunday.

Quotes by region from some of this year’s farming hosts:

Region: Wales
Anna Sutton, Parc Grace Dieu Farm.
“Farming is changing. In Wales, tourism is a positive diversification and LOFS gave us the opportunity to dip our toes into inviting the public on to our farm, without committing full time. We found the LOFS resources so helpful and we encourage anyone thinking about hosting, to give it a go. We ran trailer tours around the bison, horses and farm, with three stops for questions. Several people commented about how relaxed they felt during the tour.”

Region: Scotland
Kenneth Campbell, Slagnaw Farm, Kirkcudbrightshire, Dumfries and Galloway

“We hosted a self-guided farm walk with team members at various stations to answer questions including our new rotary parlour, the calves, calving shed and silage pit to look at feeding. They all found it hugely rewarding.

“Arla also joined us to hand out samples and talk about where our milk goes when it leaves the farm – for me this was one of the most impactful elements of the day. Collaborating with our milk cooperative allowed us to truly demonstrate the full farm to food story.”

Region: West Midlands
Rachel Todd, Haygrove Newent Farm, Herefordshire
“We hosted trailer tours across part of our fruit growing operation, with stops to see the plants and the how waste fruit is handled. Families enjoyed seeing bees in the glass hive, that our local keeper brought to explain the synergy between pollinators, biodiversity and fruit growing. Local community gardeners gave children plants to take home, to grow, and we valued being able to communicate the story behind the fruit available in their local supermarket.”

Region: North-West
Carol Kermode, Orrisdale Farm, Isle of Man

“The highlight is seeing people enjoying themselves and asking questions that show how interested they are in what we do. There was much greater interest in what we’re doing for the environment and sustainability since our last event in 2018, and about Red Tractor and what farm assurance means. Awareness and appreciation about the availability of local food – probably a result of lockdown – has definitely grown.

“Visitors seemed to really enjoy it as a free and fun day out for all the family, without having to be constantly spending! We just need a few more farms on the Isle of Man to take part next year to tell the stories that we can’t so well on our farm, such as dairy and arable.”

Region: South-West
Martin Howlett, Deer Park Farm, Cornwall
“What worked really well for us was Martin Lewis listing LEAF Open Farm Sunday as a free event – we had lots of families coming out from Plymouth.”

Region: East of England
Ross Hukins, Hukins Hops, Tenterden

“The LOFS ticketing system allowed us to gauge numbers and plan four walking tours of an hour each across the day. This schedule fits in with the daily running of our business, so it was a smooth and enjoyable day, highlighting the British hop industry and showing visitors the flavours and beer styles created by English hops. The pe-booking system also meant that we could ensure there was enough beer for visitors to sample at the end of their tour. I enjoyed hosting interested visitors, people who really wanted to learn about hop growing and brewing beer.”

Region: Yorkshire & Humber
Sophie Worrall, Low Swainby Farm.

“It’s so worth doing, we open for two hours in the afternoon, which is manageable for us; you can fit it around what works for you. Everyone who came is so positive and happy to be on a farm, seeing the animals and being a part of it all. Being able to share your farming story is rewarding, and hopefully helps to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. This years’ event went so well, that next year we will plan earlier, advertise and encourage more people to join us.”