Visitors at an Open Farm Sunday event© Tim Scrivener

The number of farmers signing up for Open Farm Sunday for the first time has surged, with more than half all those registered so far set to host their first ever event this year.

To date, 55% of all farmers due to hold an event on 10 June will be doing so for the first time, with more farms still able to join. Last year one in four farms ran an Open Farm Sunday event for the first time.

Run by Linking Environment and Farming (Leaf), the event has become one of the largest cross-farm events in the farming calendar and is the industry’s annual open day.

See also: Farmers Apprentice 2018 now open for entries

Fresh results from Leaf’s Open Farm Sunday visitor follow-up survey found 91% of people said they were more appreciative of the work farmers do after visiting an event last year and 89% said they felt more connected to the farmers that produce our food.

Critically, almost three-quarters said they now actively look for British produce to buy since visiting an Open Farm Sunday event.

 

Commenting on the findings of the survey and Mr Gove’s speech, Leaf’s Open Farm Sunday manager Annabel Shackleton said: “We totally agree with the secretary of state that public access is a public good.

During his address at Oxford Farming Conference on 4 January, Defra secretary Michael Gove praised Open Farm Sunday as a “great public initiative”, adding that campaigns like this “help reconnect urban dwellers with the earth and they also help secure consent for investment in the countryside, as well as support for British produce”.

“With 84% of respondents who visited a farm for Open Farm Sunday in 2017 saying it had changed the way they think about farming, we are urging all farmers to take part this year.”

 

How to get involved

Open Farm Sunday will be held on Sunday 10 June 2018. Meanwhile, Open Farm School Days – a nationwide project to get schoolchildren on to farms and learning about where their food comes from – will be held throughout June.

All host farmers receive a range of free resources and support. It is free to participate and all farmers are encouraged to join, whatever the size and scale of the event they wish to hold.

For more information or to register your farm’s participation, visit the Open Farm Sunday website.