East Anglia: More than 50 farms supported Open Farm Sunday 2013

Children feeding cows at an Open Farm Sunday event

Children feeding cows at an Open Farm Sunday event - Credit: Archant

This year’s Open Farm Sunday initiative attracted more than 200,000 visitors, according to the result of survey by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) which has been organising the event annually since 2006.

With 365 farms around the country having opened their gates for this year’s event, which was held on June 9, the average of more than 550 visitors per farm is the highest yet recorded.

And LEAF says that the importance of the event in connecting consumers with the food they eat and the farmers who produce it is further underlined by findings that more than two-thids of visitors (70%) were attending an Open Farm Sunday event for the first time and that one in six (17%) had never visited a farm before.

The results also show growing interest among farmers getting involved in Open Farm Sunday, as nearly one-third (30%) of those who opened their farms to visitors were taking part in the event for the first time.

Participating farms, which included 53 in the East of England, offered a wide variety of attractions and events.

Four out of five farms (79%) had animals on display for visitors while other popular activities included hosted farm tours (provided by 63% of farms), static machinery displays (59%) and tractor and trailer rides (41%).

Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday manager at LEAF, said: “Since Open Farm Sunday started in 2006, farmers have now welcomed well over one million visitors on to farms.

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“These results show that Open Farm Sunday continues to introduce agriculture to new audiences and remains as important as ever in raising the public’s understanding of farming and how their food is produced.

“All types of farms opened up, from large arable farms in the east through to a hill farm on the Isle of Mull. Each event, whatever its size, gave consumers the opportunity to discover the story behind their food and the vital work farmers do.

“It was particularly pleasing to see that we continue to attract new farms that haven’t opened their gates before.

“The positive comments from farmers and visitors on our social media networks and in person really show why Open Farm Sunday is so critical in helping to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers.”

Sponsors of Open Farm Sunday 2013 included Asda, Marks & Spencer, The Co-operative Group, Waitrose, Country Life butter, Frontier Agriculture, John Deere, LEAF Marque, the National Farmers’ Union, Syngenta, Defra, Farmers Weekly and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (bringing together BPEX, Dairy Co, EBLEX, HDC, HGCA).

The date for Open Farm Sunday 2014 is Sunday, June 8, and registration for farms wishing to take part will open on December 1.

In the meantime, LEAF is keen to hear from any farmers with feedback or suggestions for next year’s event; farmers should contact Annabel Shackleton on 024 7641 3911.

Annabel added: “There are still so many farmers that haven’t opened their gates on Open Farm Sunday, we hope the success of this year’s event will help persuade some of them to take part next year.

“We provide lots of help and support for farmers to make all events as successful as possible but if there’s anything more we could be doing we would like to know.”