Year-on-year increase in sign ups for Open Farm Sunday

Michael Gove visited Surrey-based Tuesley Farm on Open Farm Sunday last year
Michael Gove visited Surrey-based Tuesley Farm on Open Farm Sunday last year

The number of farmers already committed to hosting Open Farm Sunday events is up 10 percent on this time last year.

Three hundred farms from Jersey to Shetland are set to open their gates on the 9th June to give the public a first-hand insight into farming.

The year-on-year increase of farm sign-ups has led organisers Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) to encourage more farmers to participate.

Last year over 270,000 people visited a farm, demonstrating the significant impact the day has on connecting the public with food and farming.



“We are calling on more farmers across England, Scotland and Wales, of every size and every sector, to fill the gaps across the country, open their farm and to share their story,” said LEAF Open Farm Sunday Manager, Annabel Shackleton.

“We need more farms to respond to the public’s compelling appetite to visit a farm and learn more about where their food comes from and how it is produced.



“It’s the perfect time for farmers to strengthen the connection with their customers when the industry is being challenged by policy changes, dietary trends and, potentially, of cheap foreign imports,” she said.

Greater appreciation

Of the 362 farms which hosted a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event last year, 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.

“Even at this stage there is still time to organise a small event such as a farm walk for a few people,” Mrs Shackleton added. “This can be out in the fields where you keep preparation to a minimum – a great starting point if you are hosting for the first time.



“You decide what size of event to run, what visitors see, for how long and can manage visitor numbers through our free online ticketing service. Every event matters and every conversation helps bridge that gap between producers and consumers.”

Hop and fruit farm

One farmer who took part in last year's event is Ali Capper, who runs Stocks Farm, a 200 year old hop and fruit farm on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border.

She said it was 'great to connect' with families who came to her farm. 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.”

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.”

Farmers interested in opening for LEAF Open Farm Sunday on 9th June 2019 can find out more and register at www.farmsunday.org.