Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) has announced that more than 230,000 people visited a working farm in England, Wales or Scotland on Sunday, June 9, as part of farming’s annual open day, which saw 361 farms take part.
LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager Annabel Shackleton said the feedback from both farmers and visitors indicated a growing interest in British agriculture, food production, and in particular sustainable farming practices for land management, soil and water health as well as the role of technology.
She said: “The overwhelmingly positive response from both farmers and visitors has again illustrated the power of linking the public with farming. We are so proud of the positive impact of these events and we shouldn’t underestimate the deeply rewarding experience that they offer visitors.
“As well as the important opportunity for open dialogue between farmers and the public, many visitors commented on how much they appreciated being welcomed onto farm and the space and freedom to enjoy the countryside in safety.
“Our farmers have been blown away by the calibre and quantity of questions from visitors about environmental practices. It’s inspiring to see so many taking an active interest in how their food is produced and choosing to connect with farmers.”
Of the 361 events, LEAF said there was a significant increase in the proportion of smaller events held for up to 50 people, while 33% more farms opened in Yorkshire and 22% more in Scotland. More than 25% of farmers involved were hosting for the first time – in Scotland, this was 50% and in Wales, 38% – and hundreds of volunteers across the industry supported the events, including agronomists, vets and retailers.
Caroline Drummond, LEAF’s chief executive, added: “With farming and food supply in the news so much over the last 12 months visitors were keener than ever this year to know more about how we are producing food and looking after soils and the wider environment.
“We learn best when we get our hands dirty and LEAF Open Farm Sunday is about building real, personal experiences that help everyone feel connected to food and farming and empowered to make better choices for themselves and the environment.”
LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2020 will take place on Sunday, June 7. Organisers are calling for more farmers to get involved next year to meet the increasing demand from the public to visit a farm as part of LEAF Open Farm Sunday.