ACROSS the country, from Orkney to Jersey, the food and farming industry has showcased itself to the public, with no less than 358 farms opening their gates to visitors for LEAF's annual Open Farm Sunday.

Of these farms, 94 were opening up for the first time, and initial estimates from organisers indicate that over 270,000 people visited a farm over the course of this years OFS weekends, bringing the total number of visitors to a farm for LEAF Open Farm Sunday over the last 13 years to over 2.2 million.

The range of events was extensive, from private farm walks for 20, to farms that welcomed thousands, but their goal was the same – to offer visitors a unique insight into what farmers do and what British farming delivers – from food to crops for fuel, clothing and medicines – to the vital work they carry out in caring for the environment.

LEAF Open Farm Sunday once again received significant support from across the industry and on the day itself, LEAF welcomed secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Michael Gove to Tuesley Farm, part of the Hall-Hunter Partnership.

Social media was also successful this year, as the Open Farm Sunday Facebook page achieved 400,000 impressions between June 1 and 10. There were also 8200 mentions of Open Farm Sunday on Twitter over that time. Video content was once again very well received, with 69,000 views on Facebook for the new BBSRC Science on the Farm videos and a further 8900 on YouTube. The LEAF Open Farm Sunday website achieved over 327k visits.

There was widespread media coverage for the campaign in the weeks running up to the event on June 10, in national newspapers and magazines, as well as in retailer publications and on numerous websites and blogs. It also featured on national radio and TV, including ITV’s Good Morning Britain and This Morning. Hundreds of regional articles helped promote individual events, with many local radio stations interviewing local farmers or LEAF Open Farm Sunday’s regional coordinators.

On the day there was significant broadcast coverage for the campaign, with both ITV and BBC sending out crews to cover events across the country.

Commenting on the campaign, LEAF chief executive, Caroline Drummond, said: “LEAF Open Farm Sunday continues to go from strength to strength and yet again we have seen how by working together, the industry can really make a vital difference enabling the public to engage with farming.

"It is this collaboration that makes LEAF Open Farm Sunday the success it is, so, firstly a huge thank you to the hundreds of farmers who opened their gates and to their families and helpers. Thank you too, to all our sponsors, without whose support this campaign couldn’t happen. Farmers play a crucial role in enabling public access and enjoyment of the beautiful countryside and we know from our research how much benefit this campaign delivers to everyone.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday, which will take place on June 9, 2019, and LEAF are hoping the popularity this year will encourage more farmers to get involved.