The crucial role of our farmers in feeding the nation focus of new campaign

A new campaign championing the crucial role farmers are playing in keeping the nation fed has been launched by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Chrstine Thompson is one of the farmers supporting the Yorkshire Agricultural Society's Farm to Fork campaign

As the country battles the worst public health crisis for a generation, the Farm to Fork campaign, which starts today – Saturday, April 4 – aims to put the spotlight on the vital work being carried out by our farmers to put food on people’s plates.

Farm to Fork will celebrate the contributions of individual farmers and farm retail business across the county at a time when the nation is relying on a seamless supply chain to continually re-stock shop shelves.

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With work on farms ramping up as we reach springtime, many farmers are already in the middle of lambing or with the more settled weather, able to get out onto the fields to sow crops.

One of the aims of this campaign is to highlight this hard work and showcase what is involved in producing our food, taking consumers through the process of where and how the food we all rely on is being produced in Yorkshire.

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, said: “During these testing times, we want to do everything we can as a charity to continue to champion and support the farming community, and inform the public about what our farmers do.

“Farmers are not on the frontline of responding to the virus like our incredible nurses and doctors, among others, are but nonetheless, they are key workers whose continuous endeavours day after day are meeting the demands of retailers and shoppers, who need a safe, high-quality and reliable supply of nutritious food.”

Among the farmers whose work is being celebrated by the Farm To Fork campaign are Christine and David Thompson, near Helmsley. The couple are preparing to start lambing and to sow barley for beer production. They also have wheat crops in the ground that will be used to make loaves of bread. Mrs Thompson said: “At the moment, we are lucky that our day-to-day work on the farm is largely unaffected by the current disruption that is affecting wider society. It means we can get on with our job and continue to contribute to a big industry-wide effort across the country to produce the food we all need to stay healthy.”

As the coronavirus lockdown has taken hold, farm shops and on-site producers have found innovative ways to adapt and ensure they are meeting safety requirements in order to stay open. Farm to Fork aims to highlight these enterprising businesses and the opportunity they give people to access a ready supply of high-quality, fresh British food from local outlets.

Outlets they may not have used regularly before or even considered as alternatives to supermarkets.

The farm retail sector has been quick to respond to new government rules to quell the spread of the virus. Fodder at the Great Yorkshire Showground has closed its café but the farm shop, which is a key outlet for a number of local producers, remains open to a limited number of shoppers at any one time.

It is also offering food parcel collections, as well as home deliveries to those who are self-isolating.

Fodder sells produce from more than 430 local suppliers with its profits going back into the Yorkshire Agricultural Society to help fund the farming community.

In a similar vein, the Hullah family at Tancred Farm Shop in Whixley, between York and Harrogate, have adapted their own farm diversification retail business.

Dean Hullah and his team, who are also supporting the Food To Fork campaign, are taking phone orders for food collections which can be picked up from a contactless collection point in front of the farmhouse.

And Bert’s Barrow Farm Shop has created a contactless drive-thru at their site to carry on serving customers.

The society hopes there will be a lasting impact from promoting farmers and farm retailers through its Farm to Fork campaign.

“With the support of the farming community, we want to raise awareness of the food our farmers produce throughout the year. We also want to promote the farm retail sector at a time when farm shops are really rising to the challenge,” Mr Pulling said.

“It would be fantastic, if by doing so, some shoppers develop new, lasting habits of choosing British food at the shop shelves and supporting local businesses.”

Farm to Fork is open to all members of the farming community across Yorkshire. To take part send a photograph or short video taken on the farm or in the farm shop, along with a short explanation of what you are doing to produce food or make it available to the public.

Send your contributions to the Food to Fork campaign by e-mail to [email protected]

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