Blog: Opening the doors to farming

Tuesday, 13 June 2023

Image of staff member Lyndon Edwards

Lyndon Edwards

Board Member and Dairy Sector Council Chair

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As a farmer, I believe it is our responsibility to bridge the gap between the public and the world of agriculture. Many people are disconnected from the origins of their food and lack understanding of how it is produced. That's why I wholeheartedly support Open Farm Sunday as an excellent platform for education and connection.

The enthusiasm and enjoyment that our farm team derives from organising this event are immeasurable. We love showcasing the true story of food production and dispelling misconceptions.

Since we first opened our doors in 2015, the number of visitors to the farm has steadily increased, and this year, we were delighted to welcome an incredible 3,000 visitors.

When they arrive at the farm, the first thing we do is warmly welcome them and provide a leaflet detailing the different areas they can explore. We want them to feel free to walk around and truly experience the farm.

To ensure a well-rounded experience, we arrange various activities in different parts of the farm. The most popular activities are the tractor and trailer rides. Visitors can hop on and off at different points to witness other aspects of farming.

A visit to our farm shop and café is a must as they can explore local food and appreciate that nearly 90% of what we sell is sourced from our region. It's an opportunity for them to connect with the food produced in their own area and support local farmers.

A key focus of Open Farm Sunday is educating visitors about animal welfare and environmental sustainability. They have the chance to see cows being milked up close and personal. I stand beside them, sharing insights into our organic farming methods and answering any questions they may have. We also have a vet present, explaining the health and well-being of our animals.

Another area of interest is observing the trimming of cows' feet, an essential part of their care. Visitors can see firsthand how we ensure the cows' feet remain in optimal condition. It's an opportunity for them to interact with our dedicated staff and gain insight into the meticulous care we provide our animals.

We provide a designated area where they can ride pedal tractors, surrounded by straw bales for safety. Parents can relax and watch their children have fun while picking up informative leaflets about food and farming. It's important to instill a love for agriculture at a young age and cultivate an understanding of where their food comes from.

Open Farm Sunday Severndale farm

As farmers, we embrace the opportunity to address any questions or concerns visitors may have. We believe in providing transparent explanations for our practices, even when they involve controversial topics. By sharing our perspectives and experiences, we build trust and dispel misconceptions.

Although Open Farm Sunday is a free event, we recognise the costs associated with organising it. Visitors genuinely appreciate this and understand the value it brings. To express our gratitude and give back to the community, we set up collection buckets for local charities. It strengthens the bond between the farming community and the local area, fostering support and appreciation for our industry.

Open Farm Sunday not only educates the public but also helps address the labour and recruitment challenges faced by the farming industry. By opening our doors and inviting people of all ages, we create opportunities for future talent. We have seen success stories of individuals who first visited as children and later pursued agricultural education and employment.

One person who’s still working for us on an apprenticeship, first came to the farm when he was a very small boy and stood in the parlour the entire three hours that we were milking. It's heartwarming to witness the positive impact we can have on inspiring the next generation.

Open Farm Sunday holds a special place in my heart as a farmer. It provides a powerful platform for educating the public and bridging the gap between consumers and the agricultural industry. That’s why it’s vital than many agricultural organisations, including AHDB, provide sponsorship to ensure it continues for years to come.

By welcoming visitors onto our farms, we dispel misconceptions, showcase our practices, and foster understanding and appreciation. Open Farm Sunday is a remarkable event that benefits both farmers and the community, and I'm honoured to play a part in it.