Open Farm Sunday

Opinion Posted 06/06/16
Yesterday hundreds of farms throughout the UK open their gates to the general public as they took part in Open Farm Sunday.

The event, created by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), aims to promote British farming and educate the public about where their food comes from.

I went a little out of the readership area this year and visited an open farm in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. The Store is a farm and farm shop conveniently located along the A90 offering locally produced food in a supermarket style shop. To make the most of the day local farmers clubbed together providing livestock, equipment and volunteering to speak to the public about their sector to give an ‘all angles’ approach of the industry.

Laura Leeming of the Logie Estate, who provided an Aberdeen Angus cow and calf for the day explained: “We were keen to take part in Open Farm Sunday and cooperate with The Store because it’s a great way to gain support for Scottish farming. People of all ages have come along to enjoy the day and are keen to learn about where their food comes from. They were able to see our cow and calf in the pen and then buy Aberdeen Angus meat from the farm shop to take home. It really offers a ‘from field to fork’ experience.”

The day also promoted the innovative ways farmers are adapting to current challenges in agriculture through methods of diversification. Ogilvy Spirits is a company which has created Scotland’s first potato vodka, using the homegrown potatoes that have been rejected by supermarkets. This sustainable approach has seen the farm create a tidy profit, hugely reduce waste and win a number of coveted awards.

The family pride themselves on the vodka being ‘nurtured, distilled, bottled and bonded’ all on their very own farm, producing small amounts of the class product each year.

The drink has gone on to receive a number of awards for the both taste and bottle design, and now retails in shops throughout the UK.

The open day also exhibited technology through the ages, with machinery including a sizeable Amazone Cirrus 6002 Activ drill, through to a 1946 McCormick W9, used to thrash oats over the winter, managing one acre of oats per hour and producing yields of just two tonnes per acre.

With longterm supporters of Open Farm Sunday including AHDB, Arla, NFU and John Deere as well as a number of supermarket retailers, last year’s figures spoke for themselves as a 40% increase in visitors was recorded.

Annabel Shackleton, LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday manager, said: “The support demonstrates just how valuable Open Farm Sunday is to the industry and the continuing importance of connecting farmers with consumers.”

This year an estimated 400 farms opened yesterday thanks to LEAF, from fruit enterprises in Kent, to alpaca farms in Buckinghamshire and everything in between. Recently named as the UK’s proudest profession, Open Farm Sunday not only offers farmers the opportunity to teach the public about their way of life but more importantly is also a great excuse to nosey around neighbouring farms!


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