LAST SUNDAY, under both glorious sunshine and the coronavirus lockdown, the annual Open Farm Sunday event went ahead as an online-only experience for members of the public.

Farmers from Cornwall to the Isle of Arran, and Northamptonshire to Pembrokeshire, took to social media to escort thousands of consumers on virtual tours of their farms, to see and hear directly about food production and environmental care.

The whole thing was broadcast live on the LEAF Open Farm Sunday Facebook page – with a new farmer going live each hour from 8am – 8pm. Over the course of the day, videos on the webpage were viewed 85,000 times – equating to 54 days’ worth of video viewed. Consumers had the chance to interact and ask farmers questions, and many were delighted to be able to see farms from parts of the country they would not normally be able to visit. All videos are still available to watch on the LEAF Open Farm Facebook page.

LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond said: “The level of engagement with LEAF Online Farm Sunday really shows how much the public care about British farming and the interest there continues to be with the story behind our food.

"The day provided people with a unique opportunity to ‘visit’ farms and parts of the country they have never been to and would not normally get to visit on LEAF Open Farm Sunday and we’re pleased we were able to mark the day with this event. As so many people have been consuming information and entertainment online during lockdown, it was only right that Open Farm Sunday had an online presence too.

“I’d like to add my huge thanks to all the farmers who took part and to all our sponsors and supporters who made yesterday possible," said Ms Drummond. Before Covid-19, hundreds of farms had planned to use last Sunday to open their actual gates for what would have been the 15th LEAF Open Farm Sunday – and the intention now is for those real-world visits to go ahead on Sunday September 20.

"We are very much hoping to be welcoming people onto farms on September 20 this year, but in the meantime LEAF Online Farm Sunday has given thousands a fantastic insight into all that British farmers do and have continued to do, during these very challenging times.”