Open Farm Sunday has welcomed its one millionth visitor since the event began eight years ago, organiser LEAF has confirmed.

Early indications suggest visitor numbers across the 364 farms taking part nationwide significantly surpassed those seen last year, with farmer and public messages also flooding in on twitter and Facebook.

Speaking at an event at Walk Farm, Frome, Caroline Drummond, LEAF chief executive, said the day played a vital role in helping connect communities.

“Some 88% of society is urban, meaning it’s a real challenge for people to connect with food, the environment and everything linked to the countryside.”

Farm minister David Health, who lives locally to Walk Farm, visited the event to show his support and explained how even in rural area such as Frome, there was still a need to increase awareness of where food comes from.

“It’s really important to connect the public with what’s happening on farm,” he said. “This is a farm on my doorstep. One of my regular walks is up the track over there, so it’s great to do something in my own parish,” he said.

Farm manager Neil Darwent, who runs the milking herd of Montbeliardes at Walk Farm, has taken part in the event for a number of years and says the benefits are far-reaching. “My staff are on a high for the week after this. People come up to us and say ‘we had no idea what was involved [in farming]’. It’s the best tonic we have.”