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Fred Searle

BY FRED SEARLE

LEAF Open Farm Sunday goes digital

Organisers urge producers unable to host an event in past to “dip their toe” by posting videos and photos to social media about food and farming

LEAF Open Farm Sunday goes digital

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Food and biodiversity will be at the heart of LEAF Open Farm Sunday’s (LOFS) two-day virtual event on 19 and 20 September. 

The annual open day, which this year is going digital due to Covid-19, will feature live interactive tours and demonstrations from farmers and chefs from around the UK.

Organisers Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) are calling on farmers to get involved by sharing their own short film clips, photos and stories of food and farming across social media.

The sustainable farming charity is hoping that the virtual format allows it to reach more people than ever before, including those who may not have been able to host or attend an open farm event in the past.  

LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager Annabel Shackleton said: “It is not the event we had originally planned for 2020, but in fact both of our virtual events – in June and in September – provide an amazing opportunity to involve more farmers from all corners of the country. 

“These could be farmers who may not have been able to host a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event for whatever reason before, but who can dip their toe in this year with as little as one photo or a self-made video on their social channels. 

“What we want to show is a really rich and diverse kaleidoscope of farming stories from the people who can tell them best.”

The event follows the first virtual Online Farm Sunday, held in June to mark the original date of farming’s annual open day, which attracted thousands of viewers. 

LOFS is teaming up with British Food Fortnight and Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, also held in September, in an ambitious back-to-back weekend which brings a new cookery element to celebrate not only farming but the food it produces.

Farmers can take part through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #LOFS20. The focus on Saturday 19 September is nutritious food, seasonal recipes and cookery demonstrations.  

On Sunday 20 September farmers across Britain are invited to virtually open their farm gates and show the public how their food is produced and the work they are doing to protect and enhance the wildlife and biodiversity on their farms.  

Farmers will be encouraged to go live on Facebook, send in videos and share photographs about their wildlife and biodiversity highlights. 

“Whether it is bee-friendly crops, habitat banks or wildflower meadows to boost biodiversity, the day will be a virtual celebration of all that farmers do to protect and enhance the environment and the value of nature to people’s health and wellbeing,” said LEAF.

Northumberland mixed farmer, John Renner, who is a long-term LEAF Open Farm Sunday host farmer added: “With the increased interest in cooking from scratch and the provenance of food, this is the moment to maintain the momentum and keep British food front of mind so when people are in the supermarket they actively select local, sustainably produced or consider buying direct from the farm.

“Imagine the impact if everyone in the industry – from farmers to agronomists, vets, tractor mechanics, shearers and millers – posted a picture, video or message on their social channels on Sunday 20 September.”

The LEAF Open Farm Sunday website will have pages devoted to the two themes of food and biodiversity, and the event’s sponsors will be sharing videos, photos, activities, recipes, downloads and links throughout the two days. 

For farmers considering getting involved, LEAF's Speak Out Toolkit contains step by step sup­port for virtual communications.

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