LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2021

On Sunday 27 June, the farming industry’s annual open day, LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) will return to celebrate its 15th event since the initiative was launched in 2006.

There is no doubt that LEAF Open Farm Sun­day will look slight­ly dif­fer­ent this year. The trend is for small­er events, with activ­i­ties where vis­i­tors can man­age their own learn­ing, such as self-guid­ed farm walks. Every farmer that takes part will still have full auton­o­my to decide on the type of event they would like to offer, for how long and for how many people.

There is also a greater empha­sis on using a free tick­et­ing sys­tem, such as Try­Book­ing or Eventbrite, to record and man­age vis­i­tor num­bers with both sys­tems offer­ing an easy, auto­mat­ed solu­tion. There is also flex­i­bil­i­ty on when events take place. Cen­tral pro­mo­tion will focus on the 27th but farm­ers can choose any Sun­day in June to open their gates and still ben­e­fit from LOFS brand­ing and resources. 

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day Man­ag­er, Annabel Shack­le­ton explained why it is more impor­tant than ever to take part

LEAF Open Farm Sun­day plays a vital role pro­mot­ing British farm­ing, dis­pelling myths and help­ing peo­ple to val­ue the food they eat. We are active­ly encour­ag­ing more small­er events this year. A sim­ple farm walk for 30 peo­ple is both reward­ing and man­age­able for all involved. We know there may be some ner­vous­ness around Covid and we want to ensure both host farm­ers, and vis­i­tors attend­ing, feel safe and con­fi­dent to go ahead. As the­atres, cin­e­mas and din­ing indoors reopens, remem­ber trans­mis­sion rates are sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced out­doors. The farm­ing stage – our won­der­ful coun­try­side — is the per­fect venue to safe­ly wel­come visitors.

Riv­er Croft in Inver­ness-shire held their first LEAF Open Farm Sun­day event in 2017 and in 2018 start­ed using the tick­et­ing ser­vice to effec­tive­ly man­age vis­i­tor num­bers. Michelle Ander­son-Car­roll explained why it was so useful

In 2018, we decid­ed to use the LOFS tick­et­ing sys­tem that LEAF offers (using Try­book­ing) and it real­ly is bril­liant! We set up two book­able tours but with a very man­age­able num­ber of 35 vis­i­tors on each and pro­mot­ed the link on Face­book. Both events were booked up quick­ly, but we also main­tained a wait­ing list on the sys­tem. It real­ly helped with know­ing when peo­ple were arriv­ing too. The track to our croft is a mile long with very few places for cars to pass – so before the sec­ond tour start­ed, we asked the vis­i­tors from the first tour not to leave until the sec­ond wave of vis­i­tors had arrived.

Over recent months peo­ple have become more engaged than ever with farm­ing, nature, where their food comes from and how their food pur­chas­ing deci­sion impacts on cli­mate change

With hun­dreds of farm­ers across Britain expect­ed to take part in LOFS this year, the indus­try ini­tia­tive con­tin­ues to build com­mu­ni­ty con­nec­tions and help raise aware­ness of all that farm­ers do to main­tain the coun­try­side, enhance the envi­ron­ment and pro­duce our food.

Mrs Shack­le­ton said

Our research shows that 87% of vis­i­tors on LEAF Open Farm Sun­day found the day changed the way they think about farm­ing from the tech­nol­o­gy required to run a farm­ing busi­ness through to how more sus­tain­able, regen­er­a­tive farm­ing is help­ing to address the cli­mate cri­sis through bet­ter soil and water man­age­ment, reduc­ing waste, using renew­able ener­gy and enhanc­ing biodiversity. “It is also a chance to raise pub­lic aware­ness of the Coun­try­side Code and pub­lic access. Recent­ly there has been an increase in dam­age to grass and cere­al fields that look bare to the un-informed and there­fore deemed accept­able to walk on, but actu­al­ly are home to our future food. LEAF Open Farm Sun­day is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to explain why keep­ing to the des­ig­nat­ed foot­path is so impor­tant, with­out caus­ing con­flict or negativity.

All farm­ers who reg­is­ter their LOFS event at www​.farm​sun​day​.org receive a com­pre­hen­sive hand­book and free resources There is a net­work of region­al LOFS ambas­sadors and the team at LEAF avail­able to dis­cuss plans and offer guid­ance. Farm­ers do not need to be mem­bers of LEAF to take part, but they do need to reg­is­ter their event.