Thursday, 24 March 2011

Open Farm Sunday Training

Yesterday Suzie and I visited Aston Hall Farm, on the Spetchley Estate, for some up to date training on hosting an Open Farm Sunday event.  It seems  long ago since we hosted a training event at Overbury and I just wanted to make sure we were not missing a trick or two.

The training was being delivered by Tom Allen-Stevens and Robert Kynaston, through LEAF.

The theme for this years event is 'Discover Life on Britain's Farms' and really opens up our farms for a great day out for all of the family.  But how do we get our visitors there?  That was the first part of the training.  Depending of the size of event we wanted to host, there are lots of tools in the box; from parish magazines and postcards for small local events; through posters, banners and local newspapers for medium events, ending up with a chart topping national event using national media, tv and radio, the choice is ours.

The second aspect of the training, was once the visitors are here, what do we do with them?  We looked at activities engaging our main senses, not just sight, but smell, feel, taste and hearing.  How many people just stop in our busy lives and listen?  The blackbird or the skylark singing proudly as it rises from the field, the sound of a far off child laughing at a new discovery.

We learnt how to make a visit personal, "this is my farm", "this is how we do things here on our farm".  Engagement that's the key!
After a great game involving, leaves, roots, fertiliser, pooh and grazing cows, (I will blog about that another day), we went onto a health and safety (fake crime scene), we were the CSI farmers.  Different aspects were explored within our scenario and how those risks can be managed. Don't forget farms are dangerous places and we should never underestimate the risks that we all face every day.  But there are simple ways to avoid or reduce the risks.  Fencing off areas that you don't want people to explore, putting up signs and moving machinery inside and locking it away.  We must also remember the hand washing facilities that are required, liquid soap, running water and paper towels. 

The final part of the warm spring afternoon looked at getting the message across.  How to be positive about being a farmer and not using too much agricultural jargon.  Outside an arable meeting who would understand the expression, "using pyraclastrobin to help control septoria?" sounds obvious but I know.  I use too much jargon at times when I 'speak out'.  As the message says on Roberts shirt, visit a farm, most farmers are happy to take people around their farms and are very proud of what we as an industry do.  If you are looking to host a farm event on Open Farm Sunday please get involved and get in touch with LEAF there are lots of resources available and I know there are still some training events planned with spaces for everyone.  Put the date in your diary Sunday 12th June 2011

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