Is anyone else fed up with the all-too-common image many people still have of a farmer stood at his gate (dressed in tweed and a flat cap, of course) swinging a shotgun and shouting “Get ooooorrrf my laaaand”?
If so, I have a suggestion. Last year, after a Dragons’ Den-style pitch, I convinced my family to open our farm gates for Linking Environment and Farming’s Open Farm Sunday (OFS).
I mustered my best ex-fundraiser charm and said: “Please can we invite 150 members of the public here, show them around and not charge them a penny for it.”
Followed shortly by: “I’m not going mad and here’s why.”
See also: Lucy Nott – don’t dub me a farmer’s wife
Our pick-your-own strawberry diversification closed in 2017, after 20 years of business. Opening for OFS prompted us to welcome the public on our farm again and think about the systems we needed to make this happen.
It was an opportunity to get our farm’s name back out in the local community and keep people familiar with visiting us.
This PR is invaluable for our future diversifications, which (do not panic, family) are very much TBC!
On the day, we were surprised and humbled by how grateful people were for us getting involved and taking the time to explain how our farm helps feed the nation.
We were worried that visitors would not be interested in what we did because we had no livestock, but that could not have been further from the truth.
People were fascinated and asked wonderful questions. They left with a greater appreciation of British farmers and the hard work it takes to produce their food.
They were also amazed at how we farmed in harmony with nature, supported our environment and maintained the community’s much-loved footpaths.
So, much to some people’s disappointment, I’m sure, there was no shotgun-wielding farmer. Just an ordinary family who are proud of their work, their farm and their role as stewards of the land.
If any of the above sounds interesting to you, do have a think about opening your own farm for OFS on 12 June. It will support your business and give you an incredible feel-good factor.
Showing pigs, cattle and lambs offers a great opportunity to answer questions, educate all age groups and explain how to act around livestock.
I am grateful for the connections I have made with the community surrounding our farm, and I encourage everyone to also reach out – whether that’s in person or online.
Find out more about Open Farm Sunday