In the third of our fortnightly series of posts all about Open Farm Sunday and engaging the public on your farm, David Jones, Farm Manager at Morley Farms Ltd, invites you to the Open Farm Sunday Roadshow of Information Events. Subscribe to this blog to receive updates directly to your inbox!
To retain its competitive edge, a Formula 1 team would keep its innovations and designs under wraps until the last minute. But most farming businesses are somewhat different – after all, most of what we do is done outside. If I did find a new variety of golden beans, then it would be out growing in a field for all to see! As commodity producers we are not in direct competition with each other, so we can open our gates and openly discuss what we do. This is the reason why I think Open Farm Sunday works so well.
Every year LEAF holds events for host farmers and this year, we’re going one step further with a new Roadshow of 24 events across Britain from Exeter to Inverness! Each Information Event is not only for newcomers to Open Farm Sunday, but experienced hosts who want a refresher and gather new ideas and top tips including the all-important health and safety.
Wherever you manage to catch the Roadshow, I’m sure you will be inspired. All events follow the same format, however there is the flexibility to address specific concerns and embrace the experience of people in the room, sharing ideas and solutions to common problems.
At one event I ran last year, a farmer in Essex was worried that they had a small farm down a narrow lane and lived near a large population of people. What if thousands of people turned up and what if it rained? The advice was maybe having a ‘ticket only’ event with a restricted number of people. Or limiting promotion of the event by giving quantities of event flyers to local primary schools to put in their book bags. Or just go for it and have lots of friends and neighbours on standby to help if required on the day. As for parking, maybe they could borrow part of a neighbour’s field.
Many of the questions revolve around health and safety. The first step is to apply some common sense. Look around the farm for anything that is sharp/pointy/oily/dirty/greasy/slippery. Protect from visitors by cleaning, covering or removing it from the site, but best of all simply keep it behind a barrier or fence.
One of the most critical things is to prevent animal faeces coming in contact with people, particularly children under 5 years. If you want some bedtime reading the ‘Preventing or controlling ill health from animal contact at visitor attractions – Industry Code of Practice‘ gives some up to date information. And join the Roadshow when it stops at a town near you for all the latest information.
If you’re interested in opening your farm for Open Farm Sunday – click here to find out more! Open Farm Sunday Information Events are taking place all over the UK throughout February, March and April – visit the Open Farm Sunday website here to find one near you.
David Jones is a farm manager for Morley Farms Ltd in Norfolk growing 730 hectares of combinable crops and sugar beet. The farm also hosts about 35ha field trials for NIAB TAG, the John Innes Centre, Agrovista and others. Every year the farm has about 800 visitors including school children, students, farmers, consultants and international groups. David has helped and co-hosted several Open farm Sunday events and in 2013 became Regional Coordinator for the eastern region.