|Open Farm Sunday in numbers|
Tuesday, 3 January 2017
Open Farm Sunday Reflection
The New Year is a great time to look back at the achievements of the previous year and cast an eye to the coming year and what might be coming over the horizon. Open Farm Sunday is always the first date that goes into our farming diary at Overbury and although our visit is quite low key and limited in numbers, it's a great opportunity to talk real farming issues to those guests who book onto our tractor and trailer rides. Our contribution is small, but collectively our industry, when it puts it's mind to it, can achieve great things.
I had a quick look back to 2011, when it was a wet and cold event at Overbury and nationally 120,000 people visited events. Staggeringly 2016 saw in excess of 260,000 people visiting our open farms. Some of the quotes from host farmers in 2011 still ring true today:
"highly rewarding and the feedback has been extremely positive",
"I feel really proud to talk about the food we produce and the work we do for the environment".
Those messages are still so true today. Our food and the environment, in which it is grown and nurtured, are so important and in the coming months and years we must not loose sight of this important message. As negotiations take place about how we exit from the European Union (Brexit) it is a matter of national importance to secure a safe supply of home produced high quality, nutritious food from a protected but managed environment. Our countryside is under pressure from more houses, more people and more access, it's something that won't change or reverse so we all need an understanding of how our countryside works. Farm visitors also get so much out of the events, it really is a two way conversation:
"Wow, absolutely superb day. Thoroughly enjoyed every part and my children had a great time"
"Showed a good insight into live on a working farm"
In the great world of on-line social media to get #OFS16 trending is a great achievement and it really does help to spread the word to see what we actually do. In 2011, 362 farmers opened their farm gates. In 2016 this number had risen to 382. My challenge to our industry is to get out there, welcome people and get involved before it is too late. Now is the time to add June 11th into your diary, the next Open Farm Sunday event. If you are unsure about what is involved or concerned about any aspect of becoming a host, there are free training sessions run by LEAF to give you all the information you need. So there it is, an easy New Years resolution, host an Open Farm Sunday event, make a difference to your industry and have some fun!