5 alternative ways to hold an Open Farm Sunday event

Think about Open Farm Sunday and you might typically imagine hundreds of people milling about a large, clean and well staffed farm equipped with a burger stand, Portaloos and acres of parking.

The truth is, this is just one style of day; farmers have found countless creative and less conventional ways to be part of Open Farm Sunday.

To celebrate the diversity of events, we’ve picked five of the quirkiest. From bat walks and bird watching, to poetry and picnics – these events prove that each Open Farm Sunday gathering is unique and may inspire you to do something different.

See also: Open Farm Sunday: Why you should get involved

1. Bat walk and talk

Biodiversity is a key part of the farming system at Overbury Enterprises near Tewkesbury, on the Worcestershire and Gloucestershire border.

Having hosted events during the day for many years, the team decided to ring the changes and give visitors the chance to learn about and spot its lesser seen nocturnal residents.

Bat expert David Worley led a walk and talk around the village looking at some older barns and woodland habitat.

Meanwhile farm manager Jake Freestone explained to visitors why biodiversity is important to their farming practices.

With the farm covering 1,565ha and surrounding the picturesque Cotswold villages of Overbury and Conderton, guests were also able to enjoy stunning scenery.

2. Poetry and a pint

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) teamed up with University of Glasgow to offer an event full of farming and poetry.

Visitors were treated to readings with a rural theme from both traditional and contemporary poets and toured the farm by trailer and on foot.

Farm staff spoke about different aspects of work on the farm, while poet and farmer Jim Carruth gave readings along with other local poets. To round off the farm walk, guests were treated to a refreshing pint.

Top tips

  • Any farmer can take part, but at the core of every event is sharing with visitors how you farm, what you produce and how you manage the countryside.
  • So choose how to share your farming story to suit you, your farm and your interests.

3. Bird watching with Cornish chough

Tregullas Farm, a National Trust tenanted farm near Helston, is the most southerly farm on mainland Britain.

As well as traditional breeds of cattle, grass-fed ewes and Cornish garlic, the farm is also home to the Cornish chough – an iconic breed of wild bird.

Nevil and Rona Amiss welcome visitors on Open Farm Sunday to learn about how they manage the land to produce food while farming to improve habitats for chough and other wildlife.

A bird watching expert is on hand to help the public learn more about the unique species and its habits.

Visitors can see first-hand why this farming family were awarded the National Trust’s Farming with Nature Award.

Cornish chough. © Rex/Shutterstock

4. Moveable feast

Sat on the coast within a National Scenic Area, Treshnish Farm on the Isle of Mull take visitors on a tour of this very special corner of north-west Scotland to admire the farm and its stunning surroundings on Open Farm Sunday.

Carolyne and Somerset Charrington welcome visitors to share their style of hill farming and explain how biodiversity can be improved though grazing management.

Visitors are taken on a guided tour of the farm and its beautiful meadows with the rare wood bitter-vetch, which grows in abundance there.

Visitors are invited to tour the farm and enjoy a picnic in one of the meadows, allowing them to soak up the beauty of the farm.

5. Buffalo and barbecue

Broughton Water Buffalo has been practicing environmental farming for almost two decades since its first group of Indian water buffalo were introduced to the Hampshire farm.

The farm doesn’t use any artificial fertilisers, weedkillers or insecticides and the buffalo are completely grass-fed.

On Open Farm Sunday visitors were invited to get up close and personal with the buffalo on farm walks, talks and tours, and learn more about the naturals farming practices. The day was topped off with a buffalo barbecue.

Open your farm

If you’re inspired to share your passion for farming on Open Farm Sunday there’s still time to register to hold an event of your own on 10 June 2018.

This year’s theme is the Great British Farm Day and organiser LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is calling on all farmers to open their gates – whatever their size or farming enterprise.

For more information, downloadable resources and to register your farm event, visit www.farmsunday.org.

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