Open Farm Sunday – planning, preparation and perfect memories

padfieldJeremy Padfield runs the family farm close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset.  It is predominantly arable but also has a beef and equine business.  The farm is involved in lots of conservation work and has opened for eight out of the ten years since Open Farm Sunday began.  Here, Jeremy shares with us his top tips on how to plan and organise an engaging and memorable Open Farm Sunday event. 

To make your Open Farm Sunday event successful and enjoyable – the key is in the preparation.

It is important at the outset to decide how, what and where you would like your visitors to experience a great day on your farm.  Using a map that shows an aerial view of the farm and buildings is a good way to get an idea of where your visitors can park and then to organise a ‘flow’ to areas of interest and maybe areas that you would prefer to keep out of bounds.

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Decide at the outset what you would like your visitors to experience

There are so many different people that you will find are very happy to come along and help whether that is friends, family and staff through to neighbouring farmers, young farmers, vets to wildlife groups.  A good start is to make a list of all the people that could be a great help on the day.  Open Farm Sunday caters for all size of events whether that is inviting a handful of people and taking them out on a farm walk, through to a couple of hundred visitors and then even larger events again.

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Consider how many visitors you feel comfortable with

It is good to decide how many visitors you feel comfortable coming along on the day and then start asking from your list of helpers if they are free and get them to put the date in the diary.  If some cannot help on the actual day, see if they are available before the event as there is always plenty to do!  It is better to have more help than you need so that everyone can have a break on the day and see the event too!

Now that you have some help organised, have a plan of activities and an idea of prospective numbers, register your event on the OFS website if you haven’t done so already and start to look at some of the opportunities to learn more through the OFS Bitesize webinar programme.

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Engaging visitors with your farming story

There are lots of top tips on all areas of staging the event and the OFS Checklist is a good way to make sure that you are on track with the preparations.  Depending on the size of your event, promotion of your event is an important job and there are many avenues available from local village newsletter, postcards into local schools to social media.  Much of this will take place on the weeks leading up to 11th June but it is worthwhile thinking how best to promote your open day.

My top tip as you organise your event is to think about the memory that you would like your visitors to walk away with, remember and share with their family and friends – whether it’s one day, one month or even one year after the 11th June.  Planning your event so that your visitors go away with this memory is the key to success.  Enjoy your preparations and here’s to a great day in June!

Open Farm Sunday is on the 11th June 2017.  Register here to find out more and get involved and do tune into our OFS Bitesize webinars  for ideas, information and top tips on hosting a great event. 

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