Record turnout for Open Farm Sunday events

The Open Farm Sunday event at held at Moseleys Farm, Fornahm All Saints, last month.

The Open Farm Sunday event at held at Moseleys Farm, Fornahm All Saints, last month. - Credit: Archant

This year’s Open Farm Sunday initiative has been confirmed as a record-breaker, with final numbers revealing a 40% increase in visitors compared with 2014 to more than 291,000.

The figure is 40,000 more than the original estimate and includes a 40% increase in the number of people visiting a farm for the first time and a 49% rise in the number of visitors from urban areas year-on-year.

Feedback also shows that 80% of visitors felt that they had learned something new during their visit, with a significant number reporting a better understanding of the role of farmers in producing food and caring for the countryside.

Open Farm Sunday, which is organised by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), was staged for the 10th time this year, on June 7.

Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday organiser at LEAF, said: “A 40% increase in visitor numbers is a fantastic achievement.

“Open Farm Sunday galvanises the whole of the farming industry and the huge growth in visitors is testimony to the hard work of the nearly 400 farmers who opened their farms, together with the support of thousands of helpers and all our sponsors.”

She added: “Open Farm Sunday plays a critical role in connecting consumers with farming and food. It provides a unique opportunity for everyone to visit a farm, talk to farmers and see how their food is produced.

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“In essence, Open Farm Sunday helps to build consumer trust in the food they eat as well as building a greater understanding about the vital job farmers do to produce great food and manage our wonderful countryside sustainably.

“Plans for Open Farm Sunday 2016 are well underway to ensure this vital campaign continues to grow year on year.”

Results from this year’s Open Farm Sunday communications campaign are still being evaluated but there have been at least 1,100 pieces of coverage, including 30 in the national news sector and 850 in the regional media.

There was also a 32% increase in visitors to the campaign website in May and June compared with the same period last year. A final report on the communications campaign will be sent to supporters and sponsors in the coming weeks.

In addition to Open Farm Sunday, more than 6,000 children visited a farm during June for Open Farm School Days, which were first launched by LEAF two years ago.

Over the past 10 years, more than 1,000 farmers have opened up their farms for Open Farm Sunday and a total of 1.6million visitors have been recorded.

Among the farms taking part in eastern region this year were: Seven Hills Produce, Nacton, near Ipswich; Geoffrey Mayhew Farms Ltd, Erwarton, near Ipswich; Easton Farm Park, Easton, near Wickham Market; Lindsey Lodge Farm, Lindsey, near Hadleigh; Poplar Farm, Felsham, Bury St Edmunds; Fiveways Fruit Farm, Stanway, near Colchester; Kentwell Hall, Long Melford; Wickham Fruit Farm, Wickham St Paul; Park Farm, Thorington, near Saxmundham; Wilkin & Sons Ltd, Tiptree; R C Browne & Son, Moseleys Farm, Fornham All Saints, Bury; Slamseys Farm, Blackley Lane, Great Notley, near Braintree; Somerleyton Farms, Somerleyton, near Lowestoft; and Bowes Farms Ltd, Saham Toney, near Thetford.

Next year’s Open Farm Sunday will take place on June 5, with Open Farm School Days again running throughout June. For further details, visit .