Farmers up and down the country have opened their gates for the biggest public showcase of British agriculture, Open Farm Sunday.
With public access to the natural environment on the government agenda, the one-day event, taking place today (9 June), aims to unite the UK food and farming industry to demonstrate to the public all that British farmers deliver.
The initiative is unique in bringing together partners from across the food and farming sector for a day of celebration - from farmers and processors through to retailers and associated organisations.
The theme for this year's Open Farm Sunday is 'get closer to farming'. It focuses on the people involved – the farming families, the teams of technical experts across the UK involved in producing food, managing the countryside and natural resources.
Don't forget: it's your chance to meet these chaps today at 2pm??????. Open Farm Sunday has arrived at #FobbingFarms, and the weather is cracking???????????! Come to SS17 9JJ. #OFS19 #openfarmsunday @LEAF_Farming pic.twitter.com/mgXlATcmO0— FarmingGeorge (@FarmingGeorge) June 9, 2019
Last year over 270,000 people visited a farm, demonstrating the significant impact the day has on connecting the public with food and farming.
Of the 362 farms which hosted an Open Farm Sunday event in 2018, 26% did so for the first time - the highest number to date.
These farms encompassed all types of farm enterprise - arable, livestock and dairy through to horticulture.
Public perception of the event is also high. In a visitor survey carried out in 2018, 92% said they had a greater appreciation of the work that farmers do after visiting a farm.
Meanwhile, 86% said they felt more connected to the farmers who produced their food, and 78% reported they were now more proactively looking to buy British food.
One farmer who take's part in the initiative is Ali Capper, who runs Stocks Farm, a 200 year old hop and fruit farm on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border.
She said it is a 'great to connect' with families. The local primary school also raised over £400 at her event.
“We never stop being surprised by the reaction we get from visitors when they come to the farm, see what we’re doing, tell them about the supermarket specifications we have to adhere to and what goes into making the perfect pint.”
After 2 days of very heavy and very welcome rain, it's a perfect sunny start to #OpenFarmSunday! Last minute stuff to do. Beter get cracking. Good luck to anyone else hosting an event. pic.twitter.com/SiaR8hga3S— Pauhla Whitaker (@overtownfarm) June 9, 2019
She added: “For most people, it comes as a real revelation. Being able to share what we are doing is really rewarding. We have lots of stimulating discussion and questions around values, prices and costs; visitors genuinely want to understand the farm’s relationship with customers.”
Meanwhile, Conservative leadership hopeful Michael Gove called Open Farm Sunday a "fantastic initiative".
He said: “It connects us all to the countryside and helps us understand what’s involved in farming and food production.
“The role that farmers play in enabling access and enjoyment of our beautiful countryside is, in my view, an important public good that we should all value.”
Open Farm Sunday is managed by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), an organisation educating the public on sustainable food and farming.