LEAF Open FarmSunday
The farming industry’s annual open day was back in full force this year, making memories and positively changing perceptions.
On 12th June 2022, across the British Isles, fields and farmyards filled with chatter and laughter from interested and engaged families who were all looking to learn more about how their food is produced, how the countryside is managed and what it is like to have a career in farming.
The hugely positive feedback we’ve received shows how much they enjoyed the experience and the real value of LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) to visitors, farmers and wider industry.
In a year with so much sadness and turmoil, it has once again brought such joy to so many and reconnected the public with farmers and the countryside.
What a super opportunity to be able to visit a working farm and speak to such enthusiastic and passionate people about their work and lives. Thank you for opening our eyes to British farming!”
Visitor, Goldsland Farm, Cardiff
A really successful, happy day! It gets easier to host each year and we were delighted to have so many families from the outskirts of London join us. Lovely to see such diversity in those visiting.”
Bill Biddell, Hampton Estate Farms, Surrey
Remembering Caroline Drummond MBE
24th June 1963 – 23rd May 2022
LEAF Open Farm Sunday was also a chance for the LOFS community to pay tribute to Caroline Drummond MBE, Chief Executive of LEAF for over 30 years, who sadly passed away in May. Caroline was passionate about bridging the gap between farmers and the public. One of her most shining legacies will be establishing and driving forwards LEAF Open Farm Sunday. Caroline loved to visit LOFS events, to meet host farmers and their helpers, to hear their LOFS stories and to witness their energy and enthusiasm, and visitors’ joy and gratitude. The sunshine on the day brought Caroline’s warmth to so many events as host farmers remembered her.
Huge Positive Impact
Over 250 LEAF Open Farm Sunday events took place in June, welcoming over 175,000 people onto farms, 20% of whom had not visited a farm before. The amazing feedback shows how much visitors appreciated all that host farmers organised.
The messages shared by farmers resonated with visitors from all walks of life as shown in the results from the 2022 visitor survey which demonstrate the true impact of LEAF Open Farm Sunday:
of visitors report LOFS has increased their trust in British farming
79% learnt something new about British food or farming
72% said they felt the farming industry is adapting to help combat climate change
report the farm visit had positively changed their opinion of food production or the farming industry
49% said the visit had inspired someone in their group to consider a career in farming
Very informative & fun-filled open day that was suitable for all ages. We came away feeling so refreshed with eager children that wanted to learn more.”
Visitor, Higher Odham Farm, Devon
A Healthy Focus for 2022!
Health was the overarching theme this year, allowing farmers to shape the angle this would take to suit their farm.
Animal, plant, water and soil health, and the health of the planet were central to many events, with messages conveyed through a variety of innovative, informative and entertaining activities and displays.
Some events had vets and feed merchants on hand to answer questions about livestock health and nutrition, plus agronomists and other industry experts creating conversations around plant health and the importance of healthy eco systems in sustainable food production and managing the countryside.
A call to action in Spring asking farmers to ‘plant your pants’ was one way that farmers could demonstrate soil health on farm. It offered a light-hearted, memorable experience for visitors to understand the impact of microorganisms in the soil. The more decayed the pants, the healthier the microbial activity, demonstrating an organically thriving soil. The big unveil on Sunday 12th June was a huge hit at events where farmers had taken on the challenge!
Our Host Farmers
Farms across Britain, from Jersey to the Shetland Isles, opened their gates covering a huge array of farm enterprises, size and experiences to engage with the public.
Many farmers mentioned how pleased they were to be involved with LOFS again, sharing their farming story with the public once more: promoting British farming, educating the public, dispelling misconceptions and enjoying the whole engaging experience.
& said ‘I just wanted to say thank you to farmers for all you do for us!’
Great to be back after 2 years!
Alice Townsend, Newbottle Estate Farms, Northamptonshire
Host Farmer Support
LEAF provides a range of support and guidance to farmers– helping new farmers to open their farm gates for LOFS for the first time, through to supporting our experienced hosts. All free of charge thanks to the generous support from our sponsors.
The LEAF head office team as always, responded to a huge number of enquiries, phone calls, emails and social media messages, throughout the six-month run up to LOFS.
Our team of nine LOFS Ambassadors supported host farmers through their journey, discussing ideas and offering general guidance. New to the team in 2022 was Lucy Nott, an experienced event manager who held her first LOFS event in 2021.
The ambassadors fronted our new podcast series - a first for LOFS! Through seven podcasts they chatted with other host farmers, sharing top tips, event highlights and reasons why they get involved. Alongside this, they also teamed up and hosted four live online Zoom meetings to chat directly with host farmers, answering an array of questions and sharing best practice.Andy Guy Midlands Anne MairChapman North East Helen Chappell North West Jamie McCoy Wales John Myhill East of England Lucy Nott West Midlands Molly Biddell South East Rebecca Dawes Scotland Rona Amis South West
Once registered, each farmer received the LOFS Handbook, which is packed with information to make events safe and engaging. Regular LOFS Update e-newsletters kept farmers in the loop with the latest news.
A range of resources were available for farmers to order from our online shop to help promote their event and to use on the day. 820 parcels were sent out by our fulfilment house! Every farmer was sent one free LOFS polo shirt when registering their event. Other resources included, but weren’t limited to, posters, flyers, and postcards, and not forgetting the large vinyl gate banners to draw in the visitors!
Some of our Principal Sponsors also produced
own resources for farmers to use on the day. All AHDB’s food and farming educational resources were available for farmers to order. BASF provided Biggest Job On Earth caps. John Deere updated their ever popular activity flyer and JD dealers were out on farms talking about farm machinery. Arla provided free product samples and sent some of their milk tankers to events.
We had the poster pack & people loved reading them!”
Donya Donger, Peacock Farm, Leicestershire
Every event was unique, showcasing their own farming story from arable and horticulture, to livestock, energy crops and Christmas trees! All united with the same aim: to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to sustainability, biodiversity, climate mitigation, delivering nutritious food and a well-managed countryside.
Events ranged in style and focus, with full open days fanfaring the whole agricultural industry, to small, intimate farm walks highlighting in finer detail the processes that happen on farm and why.
Well planned events, plenty of parking, great fun on the tractor ride, stroking cows and watching them being milked! So many fun events to do. Thank you!”
Visitor, Park Farm, Kent
I had no expectations, but my 4 year old daughter and I had a blast!
Visitors attending events had a thirst to take home messages about British food and farming, whilst enjoying their time in the countryside with family and friends. As in previous years, the majority of visitors were families with young children. A number of farmers reported an increase in visitors from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds.
175,000 visitors attended events!
38.7% of werevisitors aged 0-11 years 55.8% of visitors were adults with
33.7% aged 26-45
52% female 48% male
Visitors included Defra Minister of State, The RT Hon Lord Benyon, who visited Row Farm in Berkshire, and former Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis MP who visited D’Oyleys Farm, Oxfordshire.
In the Media
LEAF Open Farm Sunday messages were promoted far and wide to encourage host farmers and industry to get involved, and to drive visitors to events. Social media continues to be a key communications tool, predominantly reaching farmers and industry contacts via Twitter, and consumers via Facebook and Instagram.
In March, our Ambassadors took turns sharing their passion for LOFS during a week-long takeover of The Farmers of the UK Twitter channel, which generated a huge 1 million impressions.
Our consumer facing communications took a new angle this year, with a digital campaign trialled to much success. Digital adverts were placed on websites, social media channels and other platforms such as Spotify, which generated 1.3 million impressions and 10K link clicks to the LOFS website.
• Several features in Farmers Weekly, Farmers Guardian, and sector specific agricultural trade media which published case studies, top tips and compelling reasons to take part
• The consumer facing media which featured LOFS included My Weekly, The Green Parent and MSN, plus the MoneySavingExpert.com weekly newsletter generated an amazing hits to the LOFS website visit a farm page
• The Guardian and The Sun featured LOFS online and in print
• 77 LOFS mentions on local radio
• On the day, broadcast cameramen were out on farms to report for ITV News in Wales, the Borders and Tyne Tees.
Over 400 pieces of coverage were generated in the media, including:
We were really pleased with the turnout, plug in The Sun newspaper!”
Michael Williams, Gelli Aur Farm, Carmarthenshire
Lasting Positive Impact
The special experiences visitors have on-farm create long-lasting memories for all involved. Our follow-up visitor survey, conducted three months on (in September), shows the continuing positive impact LOFS has on visitors:
98% have a better understanding of what ‘sustainably produced food’ means 96% feel more connected with farmers 96% said that they now have a greater appreciation of the work that farmers do 91% are more aware of & interested in farming issues in the news & media 81% said that as a result of attending an LOFS event they were doing things differently
With 49% buying more local produce & 14% buying more from farm shops
The range of comments shows how LOFS affects so many different parts of visitors’ lives – changing perceptions, becoming more conscious consumers, and opening new conversations. All whilst encouraging people to live more sustainable lifestyles and spend more time outdoors - enjoying all the health and wellbeing benefits of being in the countryside.
I have started using my local farm shop & have been trying to only buy British products.”
There is now an association between what is seen on the supermarket shelf and it’s origin, and the work that goes into the production of it.”
We now buy & appreciate local food more & have taken our youth group to visit the same farm twice to learn more.”
Looking Forward to 2023
The LEAF team are already planning for LEAF Open Farm Sunday 2023 and how we can once again make a huge impact when it comes to passing on positive messaging around British food and farming. The appetite is certainly there to learn more...
Machinery used in farming
Wildlife & biodiversity 50% said:
We asked this year’s visitors what they would like to learn more about at LOFS events next year:
Technology used in farming
Science behind 38% said: Food assurance/ certification
Farming to enhance the environment
How crops are grown & used
To engage visitors online and complement LEAF Open Farm Sunday, we produced three creative, fun, family-orientated videos offering a 10-minute insight into what happens on farm in springtime. The videos gave visitors an insight into farming in the run up to LEAF Open Farm Sunday, whilst promoting the opportunity to visit a farm on 12th June. For people unable to get out onto farm, they were a very welcome alternative. The videos featured three LOFS host farmers, with different enterprises in Wales and the West Midlands: