Visitors love having the opportunity to speak with farmers on Open Farm Sunday and listen to their stories about life on the farm. It gives consumers the chance to get their questions answered and discover the truth about farming.
So if you’ve signed up for Open Farm Sunday, but you’re having nightmares about being thrown impossible questions from the public about castrating lambs, pouring chemicals on crops and the ethical considerations of dairy farming, we’ve got some tips.
Firstly, don’t panic it won’t be nearly as taxing as you’re imagining it to be. This is a great opportunity for the public to discover farming and see first-hand the fantastic work farmers do to produce food and manage the environment.
For farmers who don’t regularly speak directly with the public, this can be daunting, but the feedback from Open Farm Sunday host farmers is resoundingly positive.
The key is to follow some tried and tested top tips – especially when answering tricky questions.
By answering honestly, knowledgeably, and staying calm, visitors will leave with the understanding and trust in farming which Linking Environment and Farming (Leaf), all the host farmers, supporters and sponsors aim to promote.
These seven tips will help you when the big day comes around on 10 June.
1. Keep it honest. Answer questions honestly because your passion and knowledge for, and understanding of, farming will shine through. Openness and transparency will help to promote trust from visitors.
2. Know your facts. As well as being honest, it’s important to answer any questions knowledgeably. Not only will this back up your points and opinions, facts will also help your audience leave feeling reassured and informed.
3. Stay positive and confident. Enthusiasm is infectious. Talking about all the positive things in farming and what it does for the countryside will mean your audience feels as interested in and excited about farming as you are.
4. Keep it simple. Open Farm Sunday events are for everyone, attracting a range of age groups and visitors with different levels of understanding when it comes to farming.
By keeping your language simple, interesting and succinct, and avoiding jargon, you can be sure your answers will be fully understood.
You don’t want people to leave the farm feeling confused or uncertain about why something is done or how it happens.
5. Stay calm. Yes, the thought of having crowds of people milling around the farmyard and poking around the parlour can be stressful, but try to be polite, respectful and keep your cool in all situations.
This will help you explain everything clearly, and maintain the respect from your guests, as well as avoiding any confrontation.
6. Agree to disagree. As with any difficult question or conversation, it may not be possible to reach an understanding or resolution.
Be prepared for this to happen and, if it does, find a way to close the conversation in a polite and non-confrontational way.
7. Practice makes perfect. As with most things, practice is invaluable. Ask your friends, family or colleagues to quiz you on questions that might come up on the day, and practice your answers to them.
This will help you identify the information you may need for answers, mean you’re less likely to be caught off-guard by an unexpected query and you’ll feel more at ease on the day.
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 onto 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 that they wish to hold.
For more information or to register your farm’s participation, visit the Open Farm Sunday website.