Farms are set to throw open their doors

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It is fast becoming one of the most high-profile events on the agricultural calendar.

Open Farm Sunday attracted more than 180,000 people last year and farmers across Yorkshire and the UK are now preparing for this year’s event on June 12.

Organised by the Linking Environment and Farming group (LEAF), Open Farm Sunday aims to connect farmers with consumers and the urban community by opening up the farm for the day to visitors to see how it operates on a daily basis.

Having been in operation for several years, it also has the objective of showing farmers’ commitment to the countryside, and the production of safe and affordable food.

LEAF conducted research among those who took part and claim that 80 per cent of those farming businesses involved in Open Farm Sunday enjoyed real benefits as a result of their participation, including increased sales, better community relations and local profile, improved staff morale and better contracts.

Caroline Drummond, LEAF’s chief executive, said: “We’re keen for farmers to help us build on last year’s success. Hundreds of farms have already registered and we’re hearing wonderful things about what they’ve all got planned – from small private events for the local community to farms that are expecting hundreds and for a few, even thousands of visitors. Last year more than 6,000 people across the farming industry helped make it happen, so even if you can’t open yourself, don’t forget to offer your support by linking up with your nearest participating farm.”

Any farmers who wish to take part must register at www.farmsunday.org, where they can also find tips, advice and support on a range of topics from health and safety to farm walks and talks.

The size and scale of an Open Farm Sunday event is left entirely to the host’s discretion. Bosses at LEAF said they were also keen to remind everyone that there is still time to register their event. Among those who have been participating in Open Farm Sunday for several years is Richard Bramley of Kelfield near York

On Open Farm Sunday, Mr Bramley will be leading walks around the farm and explaining all the work he does to not only produce the crops but caring for the countryside and environment too.

This includes looking after the hedgerows and ditches which are important habitats for wildlife, growing the wild flower seed mix for the birds – which was vital over the winter – and maintaining the grass margins and grasslands.

Over the last two years Richard has been participating in the Environmental Stewardship Scheme which has resulted in a 20 per cent increase in the number of species of birds on the farm.

As well as raising and improving awareness of farming and food, Open Farm Sunday also aims to demonstrate the high standards of welfare which British food is produced to, with visitors encouraged to look out for the Red Tractor logo when shopping.

For more information visit www.farmsunday.org