LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) returns this June with a focus on the many health benefits that can be found on a farm.
Organisers of the farming industry’s annual open day, Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) are calling on farmers to take part and organise their own event to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to sustainability, biodiversity, climate mitigation, nutritious food and a well-managed countryside.
Taking place on Sunday 12 June 2022, it is an opportunity for every farmer to plan their own event, engage their local community, share their farming story, dispel misconceptions and give visitors a hugely positive, memorable experience, LEAF says.
More than 100 events took place in 2021 under Covid-safe guidelines, and prior to the pandemic over 350 farms across Britain, covering all agricultural sectors, opened each year.
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday Manager explains the importance of the event:
“Last year we launched our new 10-year strategy at LEAF, with a commitment to driving more sustainable circular agriculture through climate, nature, the economy and society. In addition, COP26, and the recent National Food Strategy has drawn attention to the impact of farming and food production on climate change. Whilst we have the public’s attention, it is more important than ever that we feed their enthusiasm and interest.
“LEAF Open Farm Sunday is the perfect way for visitors to really understand what best practice looks like and how farmers, and the food sector are part of the solution, delivering for our health and the health of the planet - through the food we eat and the fresh air and countryside that we enjoy.”
Every farm has something of interest for visitors, whether it is talking about landscape and nature conservation, soil and water management, grass, crop health and protection, animal husbandry, energy efficiencies or diversification. A range of free resources are available from LEAF and LOFS sponsors to support host farmers, including a host farmers’ handbook, activity crib sheets and template guides, for risk assessments and writing a press release, plus guidance on using an online ticketing service to manage visitor numbers.
In addition, a series of interactive online Zoom meetings for farmers wanting to find out more about hosting an event this June, are being held on the 1st Thursday of each month. Hosted by the team of experienced LEAF Open Farm Sunday Ambassadors, topics cover:
February 3rd – Planning and marketing your LOFS event
March 3rd – Managing visitor numbers, including ticketing
April 7th – Promoting your event and making use of LOFS free resources
May 5th – Final words of wisdom!
Annabel’s LOFS top tip is to keep it simple, planning the day based on what you have on farm,
“LEAF Open Farm Sunday is YOUR event, YOUR story and YOUR chance to share it with the wider public. Concentrate on what you feel comfortable sharing - you don’t need to talk about every enterprise in the UK, nor open your whole farm. You have full control to manage what visitors see, how long you run your event for and who you invite. Some hosts hold a private event for a local group, whilst others are much more public.
“Most importantly, enjoy the day! By coming together in June, we can demonstrate a very powerful message about the vital role that agriculture plays in ensuring our landscape, people and economy remains healthy, now and for the future.”
Farmers do not need to be members of LEAF to take part, but they do need to register their event at www.farmsunday.org, where they can also access an information pack and book to attend the Zoom meetings, she adds, giving these top tips for a first-time host farmer:
1. Download the Information Pack
Visit www.farmsunday.org and download the Information Pack which will help you get started.
2. Get in touch
If you have any questions get in touch with the LEAF Open Farm Sunday team via 02476 413911 or email LOFS@leaf.eco. A range of experienced LOFS Ambassadors are on hand to answer your questions and talk through event ideas.
3. Start small
Start with something small like a farm walk for a limited number of people. You can always add in a few activities for example, in a wheat field ask them to guess how many loaves of bread can be made from one metre square – LEAF has a data sheet with the answer!
4. Manage visitor numbers
Consider using the LEAF Open Farm Sunday (TryBooking) ticketing system to manage visitor numbers with timed tickets, alongside other benefits such as contacting attendees before they visit with your event information and what to expect on the day. This gives you added control and confidence when planning your day, whether it is for 20 people or 200.
5. Keep it short
You don’t need to run the event for a whole day, a few hours is sufficient - just make sure you clearly advertise this on all your promotional materials.
6. Register your event
Visit www.farmsunday.org to register your event free of charge and once registered you will receive a copy of the host farmer handbook with lots of information to support your planning.
7. Collaborate and plan
Invite other local farmers and friends to support you. Even if you are hosting a farm walk, writing down some short notes will help ensure you don’t miss anything you want to share. Props are useful too and remember to avoid jargon, you will be amazed how confused children can get when you say “we feed our sheep ‘cake’”!
8. Keep it simple
Concentrate on your story and what you feel comfortable sharing, you don’t need to tell the story of every type of farm in the UK. Work with what you have at your farm, every day farm activities can create some of the most profound memories for your visitors. Remember LEAF Open Farm Sunday is YOUR event, YOUR story and YOUR farming experience.
LEAF Open Farm Sunday is managed by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) - the leading organisation delivering and promoting climate positive action, thriving, resilient and exemplar agro-ecological farming at an increasingly global level. Working with farmers, the food industry, scientists, environmentalists, teachers, young people and consumers we are looking at new ways to deliver productivity and prosperity among our farmers, enrich the environment and engage young people and society in a valuable and meaningful way. LEAF set up and has managed LEAF Open Farm Sunday since it began in 2006 (LEAF is a registered charity no: 1045781)
Principal sponsors of LEAF Open Farm Sunday include: AHDB, Arla Foods, Asda, BASF, Co-op, Defra, Farmers Weekly, Frontier Agriculture, John Deere, Kellogg’s, LEAF Marque, NFU, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.