Take a Leaf out of Open Farm Sunday’s book and get going

With more people than ever spending time in the great outdoors and a widespread interest in cooking from scratch using home grown produce, the organisers of Open Farm Sunday are expecting a bumper attendance at events around the country this year.

Annabel Shackleton

But they are also focusing on the fact that ‘small is beautiful’ due to the ongoing Covid restrictions in the belief that while the countryside is a hugely safe place to visit, events will still need to be conducted in a socially distanced manner.

Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager, said that there was a genuine interest across society to learn about where food came from, about the work which farmers do and how the countryside is managed.

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“With staycations and trips to the countryside increasing, we anticipate there will be more people than ever wanting to visit a farm this summer, and we want to encourage as many farmers as possible to get involved with the confidence they can manage their events safely”.

After on-line events last year, this year’s open day, which takes place on Sunday 27 June moves once again into the real world, as the LEAF (Linking Environment and Farms) marks 15 years of involvement with the Open Farm Sunday initiative which first began in 2006.

And the organisation is calling on as many farmers as possible to take part in the opportunity to promote the British food and farming story.

“There is no doubt that LEAF Open Farm Sunday will look slightly different this year,” said Shcakleton. “The trend is for smaller events, with activities where visitors can manage their own learning, such as self-guided farm walks.”

And while farmers could decide on their own format, she said that this year there was a greater emphasis on using a free ticketing system, such as TryBooking or Eventbrite, to record and manage visitor numbers with both systems offering an easy, automated solution:

“There is also more flexibility on when events take place,” she added. “Central promotion will focus on the 27th but farmers can choose any Sunday in June to open their gates and still benefit from LOFS branding and resources.”

She suggested that a simple farm walk for 30 people would be both rewarding and manageable for all involved:

We know there may be some nervousness around Covid and we want to ensure both host farmers, and visitors attending, feel safe and confident to go ahead.”

She said that as theatres, cinemas and dining indoors began to reopen it was worth remembering that transmission rates were significantly reduced outdoors:

“The farming stage – our wonderful countryside - is the perfect venue to safely welcome visitors.”

*All farmers who register their open day at www.farmsunday.org will receive a comprehensive handbook and free resources. There is also a network of regional LOFS ambassadors and personnel at LEAF available to discuss plans and offer guidance. Farmers do not need to be members of LEAF to take part, but they do need to register their event.

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