Farmers who invite the public onto their farms are having a lasting positive impact, with nearly 90% of visitors on LEAF Open Farm Sunday in 2018 saying it has changed the way they think about farming.
This is 12% up on last year, according to a survey of visitors to LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) events in 2018, collected by LEAF, the charity which promotes sustainable food and farming and manages the campaign.
Ninety-two percent of people said they appreciated more the work farmers do, after visiting a farm; eighty-six percent said they felt more connected to the farmers who produced their food, and 78% said they were now more proactively looking to buy British food.
In 2018, 26% of farmers who took part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday did so for the first time – the highest number to date.
“These figures show just how powerful it is when farmers open their farms to the public,” said Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday Manager.
“There is a high level of interest in food production but unfortunately we have seen a lot of misinformation about farming in the media.”
Ms Shackleton added: “When farmers engage with the public, people can see for themselves the care and attention to detail that goes into growing quality, nutritious crops and the high levels of animal welfare.
“LEAF Open Farm Sunday is positively changing public perceptions of our industry. That is why we are calling on more farmers to come together in 2019; to open their farms on June 9 – together we can show people across the UK what our industry achieves and why British farming is so important.
“This is going to be increasingly important if we leave the EU – British farming will need the full support of the public.”
The theme for LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2019 is “Get closer to farming” focusing on the people involved – the farming families, the teams of technical experts across the UK involved in producing our food, managing the countryside and our natural resources.
“No matter how big or small an event, every farmer engaging with the public counts,” said Ms Shackleton.