The results of the LEAF Open Farm Sunday visitor follow-up survey, released this week, highlight how important public access onto farms is to how consumers view British farmers and farming
91 percent of those surveyed said that after visiting a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event last year, they were more appreciative of the work farmers do and 89 per cent said they felt more connected to the farmers that produce their food. 73 per cent said they now actively look for British produce to buy since visiting a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event.
Defra Secretary of State, Michael Gove, cited LEAF Open Farm Sunday as a “great public initiative” during his address to the Oxford Farming Conference (4th January) and explained, “how campaigns such as LEAF Open Farm Sunday help reconnect urban dwellers with the earth and that they also help secure consent for investment in the countryside, as well as support for British produce.”
Commenting on the findings of the research and Mr Gove’s speech, Annabel Shackleton, LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday manager said, “At LEAF we totally agree with the Secretary of State that public access is a public good. Mr Gove made it clear that public access is rightly going to be at the heart of the new direction for farming support, post-Brexit and this couldn’t happen at a more important time.
“With 84 per cent of respondents who visited a farm for LEAF Open Farm Sunday in 2017 saying that it had changed the way they think about farming, we are urging all farmers to take part this year on the 10th June. The benefits of LEAF Open Farm Sunday are proven and extensive and for farmers it is one of the best possible ways to show the public what you do and to encourage them to support British farming by buying British produce.”
Registrations for this year’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday opened in November and 55 per cent of farmers registered will be taking part for the first time. There is increased support for all farmers this year including new resources, a new section on farmsunday.org for first time host farmers and plenty of case studies from farmers who have previously opened their gates offering advice and ideas.
One farmer who took part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday for the first time in 2017 was Ali Capper, who runs Stocks Farm on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border. Her experience sums up the positive feedback LEAF receives every year from farmers who open their gates. “There is no doubt that doing LEAF Open Farm Sunday is a fantastic way to raise your local profile," she said. "Being able to share what we are doing is really rewarding. We had lots of stimulating discussion and questions around values, prices and costs; visitors genuinely wanted to understand the farm’s relationship with customers. LEAF Open Farm Sunday provides the perfect platform for farmers to showcase the fantastic work they do.”