Due to an unfortunate technical glitch and a long weekend of Easter bank holidays, the Open Farm Sunday blog missed its usual Friday afternoon slot! But fear not, here it is! In the eighth of our fortnightly series of posts all about Open Farm Sunday and engaging the public on your farm, Andy Guy our Open Farm Sunday Regional Co-ordinator for the East Midlands, gives us an insight into Open Farm Sunday activities.
If you are reading this blog you have either already decided to open your farm on 8th June this year, or you are seriously thinking about taking the plunge for the first time. Whichever category you fall into, you must have some concerns in your mind; How many visitors will turn up? How do I make sure the farm is safe? Do I have enough to interest people?
The first two have already been talked about in previous blog posts [find them here] so I will talk about how to keep your guests entertained.
The truth is that no matter how plain you might think your farm is, it is a world of new discoveries for most of your visitors. The trick you need to pull off on the big day, is finding clever ways to get your messages across without boring your guests.
The statistics show that around a third of visitors last year were aged less than 11 and a further third were 26-45 years old, so they were the parents! So the majority are families with young children and the key to keeping them happy lies in the young ones. Speaking as a parent myself, I know that if the children are enjoying their day, the parents will be very happy too.
There have been all sorts of successful activities on farms in the last eight years. There has been pig racing, sheep shearing, pond dipping, wellie whanging and mini-beast safaris! Farmers have fallen back on old favourites too. Tractor and Trailer rides, guided walks, demonstrations and talks all work well too.
The most successful activities are those which are interactive. Providing a treasure hunt to keep the youngsters interested on a farm walk will mean that you have a chance to talk to their parents about the way you manage the farm.
Giving the children a card and double sided sticky tape means they can collect the things that surprise them and keep them to show to their families. They can collect wool from the fences, feathers and leaves from the hedgerows, grain and straw from the barn building up a map of their route around the farm.
The list of activities is only limited by your imagination, but they will enhance the experience for the families who visit you on 8th June enormously.
Register your farm online at www.farmsunday.org.
Andy is our Open Farm Sunday coordinator in the East Midlands. He is a huge supporter of LEAF and has been involved in Open Farm Sunday since it began in 2006. He was a LEAF Demonstration Farmer for several years but now describes himself as a “Sustainable Farming Consultant”.