MORE FARMERS than ever before are being targeted in a campaign which urges them to throw open their gates to the public.
Now in its tenth year, the intention of Open Farm Sunday is to break down the historic communications barrier between farms and the wider world, and to give adults and children alike a better perspective of how food is produced in Britain.
Last year saw 375 farms opened across the country and as many as one in five visitors had never been on a farm before, suggesting that there are many more people who would benefit from a closer look at what farmers do.
On June 7, participating farms will welcome people onto their land to show them what life is like on a farm. Some farmers choose to host guided walks or other educational tours and demonstrations showcasing their livestock and machinery.
Some farms host family games such as welly wanging and offer homemade cakes and farm reared meat for sale.
More than 250 farmers have registered to take part in Open Farm Sunday this year, including 16 in Yorkshire to date. Organisers at LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) hope to at least double the number of participants in the region between now and June, even if it involves hosting something as simple as a short guided walk.
Last year 27 farms held an Open Farm Sunday event in Yorkshire.
Appealing for farmers to take part for the first time in the initiative’s decade-long history, Annabel Shackleton, LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday manager, said: “Every farm regardless of size or type, has something to offer on Open Farm Sunday. The everyday farming activities are exciting and fascinating to people experiencing it for the first time.
“A simple farm walk can have a huge impact - you don’t have to put on extra activities.
“Visitors are happy to hear about what you do on the farm to produce great food and manage the countryside. They love to see the machinery you use, hear about work you do to manage soil, water and wildlife on your farm.
“Perhaps you could include 30 minutes for a ‘Farmers Question Time’. You could ask your agronomist, vet or neighbouring farmers to come and help tell your farming story.”
Arable farmer Tamara Hall, of Molescroft Grange Farm near Beverley co-ordinates Open Farm Sunday in Yorkshire.
She hosted her first event in 2007 and has branched out into hosting organised visits by groups of schoolchildren.
This year, she will be inviting the public along for a farm walk. Yorkshire Cancer Research is holding a buffet lunch on the farm afterwards and tickets are available by contacting the charity directly.
Ms Hall said she got a buzz from hosting her first eight years ago: “We found it really enjoyable showing people around. Often when you’re on the farm you are really busy working and seeing people come and take an interest in everyday things makes you see it from a different angle.
“It’s interesting what people do and don’t know. At first we would worry about being asked difficult questions but you don’t get that.
“It’s easier to host than you might think and it is a great free day out for families.”
To register an Open Farm Sunday event or for more information about local OFS events, visit www.farmsunday.org