Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday manager at LEAF, reflects on Open Farm Sunday, one month on.
Hours of planning, inspiration, preparation and hard work all came together on Open Farm Sunday 2014.
One month on, and LEAF is proud to confirm that 2014 was another record-breaking year. 375 farms opened their gates to the public welcoming over 207,000 visitors to discover more about how their food is produced.
We are continuing to collate feedback, figures and stats from farmers and visitors alike. Individuals so appreciative of the events and activities farmers organised to showcase British farming and food. Farmers so proud of what they achieved and delighted to see their staff and helpers sharing their passion for the industry with their local communities. Teachers and school children enthused to be out on farms and being inspired by their visit.
Looking back over the past month, it is worth reminding ourselves the impact Open Farm Sunday has on farmers, the public, our communities and the wider industry.
First and foremost, Open Farm Sunday reaches out to so many people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to visit a farm. It welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds and gives them a wonderful opportunity to experience farming first hand. For some it will have been their first visit to a farm. For many, it will have inspired them to think a little bit more about their food and what goes into producing it. It will have encouraged some to make changes to what they buy and what they feed their children – hopefully seeking out more local, British and sustainably produced food. We hope it will have helped engender a greater respect for food, the farmers who produce it and the role farmers have as custodians of our precious countryside.
Open Farm Sunday also brings communities together encouraging farmers to work with neighbouring farmers, industry suppliers, local groups and individuals to share what they do. Once again it has been a fabulous opportunity to showcase all that farmers and industry does to produce great food in sustainable ways which safeguard our environment.
So whilst the visitors may have gone home, the machinery put away and the farm returns ‘to normal’ the impact of Open Farm Sunday will remain long after we close the gates – until next year!
On behalf of the LEAF Team a huge thank you to the 6,000 farmers and their helpers who took part this year to make this the best Open Farm Sunday yet. Our thanks also to our wonderful sponsors, who’s support make it all possible: Asda, BASF, Country Life butter, Defra, Farmers Weekly, Frontier Agriculture, John Deere, Kellogg’s, LEAF Marque, Marks and Spencer, National Farmers Union, Syngenta, Tesco, The Co-operative, Waitrose, plus Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board support from BPEX, DairyCo, Eblex, HDC and HGCA divisions, plus Hellmann’s.
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of Open Farm Sunday so put the 7th June 2015 in your diary now so we can make the celebrations even bigger!