Farm gates open to the public
Get Closer to Farming is the theme of this year’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday. Kate Chapman speaks to manager Annabel Shackleton about the opportunities available to visitors and the importance of public involvement in supporting the countryside.
Now in its 14th year, LEAF Open Farm Sunday (Sunday 9th June) will see farmers nationwide opening their gates to the public, so people can meet and find out more about everyone from the farming families to the teams of technical experts involved in producing our food as well as those managing the countryside and our natural resources.
Several Lincolnshire farms – including Hill Farm, Scunthorpe, Minting Park Farm, Gautby, near Bardney and Uncle Henry’s, near Gainsborough – are taking part and hosting unique events based around their own farm’s individual stories (details of each are available on the Open Farm Sunday website).
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager, said the event is a wonderful opportunity for visitors – both young and old – to get closer to farming and the people that make it happen.
“Each event is unique, each farm is different and every farmer too, but what they all share is a passion for farming, amazing expertise and a commitment to caring for the countryside,” she added.
“Some farms have been passed down through the generations, others are managed by those who have chosen farming as their career; each has its own special story to tell and LEAF Open Farm Sunday is the ideal chance to come and hear it.
“It’s your chance to come and meet the famers and their families, as well as the many other professionals they work with that help them farm sustainably.
“Together they manage valuable resources like water and soil and habitats for wildlife to thrive and you can discover all that goes into producing the food we eat and the many other ways that farmers contribute to our daily lives.”
Since the first Open Farm Sunday was held in 2006, more than 1,500 farmers across the UK have opened their gates and welcomed 1.8 million people onto their farm for one Sunday each year.
The event is managed by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), the national charity which helps farmers improve the way they farm by encouraging them to take up integrated farm management techniques. The organisation also works to help create a better public understanding of farming through its national network of demonstration farms, innovation centres and initiatives like Open Farm Sunday.
LEAF also aims to bring farmers and consumers together to raise awareness of how farmers are working in harmony with nature to produce good food with environmental care.
A recent survey by the charity shows the initiative is having a lasting positive impact as nearly 90 per cent of last year’s visitors said attending Open Farm Sunday changed the way they think about the industry.
A further 92 per cent said they appreciated more the work farmers do after visiting a farm and 86 per cent said they felt more connected to the farmers who produced their food, while more than three-quarters (78 per cent) said they were now more proactively looking to buy British food.
“These figures show just how powerful it is when farmers open their farms to the public,” added Annabel.
“There is a high level of interest in food production but unfortunately we have seen a lot of misinformation about farming in the media.
“When farmers engage with the public, people can see for themselves the level of care and attention to detail that goes into growing quality, nutritious crop and the high levels of animal welfare.
“June 9th is our chance to show people across the UK what our industry achieves and why British farming is so important. This is going to be increasingly important if we leave the EU – British farming will need the full support of the public.”
All through June LEAF Open Farm School Days also run alongside the annual open day, with a number of farmers taking part in both.
This nationwide initiative aims to get more children out onto farms and learning about where their food comes and meeting the farmers who grow it.
National sponsors of 2019 Open Farm Sunday include Asda, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose, plus Arla Foods, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), BASF, Defra, Farmers Weekly, Frontier Agriculture, John Deere, LEAF Marque and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).
To find out more about Open Farm Sunday visit www.farmsunday.org
Lincolnshire farms taking part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday include (at the time of going to press):
• The Hall, Yorkshireside, Eastfoft, Scunthorpe DN17 4PG – a small farm holding 2,000 pigs, as well as alpacas and chickens. It also grows a variety of crops including winter wheat, sugar beet and potatoes.
This year it hosts its third Open Farm Sunday when visitors can find out all about British pork production as well as where other food on our shelves comes from. There will be trailer rides around the farm and the chance to take the alpacas for a walk.
Visitors can also grab some refreshments, take part in games, activities and a fresh egg hunt and buy plants.
• Minting Park Farm, Gautby, near Bardney LN8 5JP – a mixed family farm growing wheat, barley, grass and lucerne. It also keeps cows, sheep and British Lop pigs, which produce the meat it sells in its farm shop.
It is hosting a free event from 10am to 4pm where visitors can meet the animals, take self-guided walks around the farm and explore static machinery displays.
• Hall Farm, Sutton Estate Office, Stainton le Vale, Market Rasen LN8 6HP – a mixed farming business including arable and livestock with a strong emphasis on conservation. It is promising visitors an abundance of things to see and do including its farmers’ market showcasing Lincolnshire produce and butchery demonstrations.
The free event, which runs from 10am to 4pm, will also include refreshments, birds of prey and machinery displays.
Uncle Henry’s, Grayingham Grange Farm, Grayingham, Gainsborough DN21 4JD will also be hosting an event.