SCOTTISH FARMERS are gearing up to virtually open their doors to the public during a two-day food and farming event this September.

Leaf Open Farm Sunday - organised by Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) - have decided to build on the success of their first virtual online farm event earlier in June, by putting together a back-to-back weekend of fun events including cooking demonstrations and interactive farm tours during a busy harvest season.

This new event held over the weekend of September 19 and 20 will have food and biodiversity at its core - a virtual celebration of all that farmers do to protect and enhance the environment and the value of nature to people’s health and wellbeing.

The Scottish Farmer:

This year's two-day event will take place over the weekend of September 19 and 20 with the Saturday featuring online cooking demonstrations


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LEAF Open Farm Sunday Manager, Annabel Shackleton, said:

“At the very heart of LEAF Open Farm Sunday is telling the real stories of farming and this is the perfect opportunity for farmers across the country to get involved and collectively make a huge positive impact on the British public.

“It is not the event we had originally planned for 2020, but in fact both of our virtual events – in June and in September - provide an amazing opportunity to involve more farmers from all corners of the country,” she continued. “These could be farmers who may not have been able to host a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event for whatever reason before, but who can dip their toe in this year with as little as one photo or a self-made video on their social channels. What we want to show is a really rich and diverse kaleidoscope of farming stories from the people who can tell them best.”


The recent pandemic has highlighted to the nation the value of food as well as fresh air and countryside, all in which farmers play a fundamental role. The virtual format creates a powerful platform to reach out to more people than ever before, including those who may not have been able to attend an open farm event in the past.

Lucy Wilson from Cowbog Farm near Kelso in the Scottish Borders has been involved with LEAF Open Farm Sunday for the past three years and this year will be taking part in a virtual cooking demonstration on the Saturday.

The Wilson family look after a herd of around 200 Hereford cattle, grow cereal crops and a few years ago diversified with Fluffy Moo’s – group experience days where the public can enjoy the whole ‘farm to fork’ experience, including dining in an old stable block.

As a result of the pandemic and the growing trend of people looking to spend more time rurally, they have recently added tin bothy’s to their farm, which the public will soon be able to hire out for socially distanced, picnic gatherings.


“We have been welcoming the public on to our farm for the past three years as part of Open Farm Sunday - teaming up with Beirhope Alpacas which has always gone down well, along with the tractor rides,” said Lucy. “Predominantly we are breeders of pedigree Herefords and because they are very quiet, we can take people into the fields and get very close to them. Our next-door neighbour Neil Thomson rents fields from us to grow broccoli and cauliflower and in previous years children have been given a broccoli plant to take away with them.”

This year Lucy has something a bit different in store and teaming up with neighbour Neil - who also grows blueberries - she is going to be doing a demonstration showing the versatility of the fruit.

“I am involved with the agri-tourism group and recently did a beetroot demonstration as part of their Go Rural live farm tours and for Open Farm Sunday I’m going to do something similar using blueberries and maybe whip up a salad, some baking and maybe a cocktail.”

Lucy added that she is considering doing a teaser video ahead of the event where she will go in to one of Neil’s polytunnels and give the public a sneak peek inside and talk through the blueberry process.

“We are passionate about farming and really keen for people to see the reality of what happens before their food reaches the shelves. Quite often farming is portrayed really negatively so through events like this we can showcase lots of the great work we do and invite the public to get more involved in the process.”

You can find out more about Cowbog farm HERE

Taking part in Open Farm Sunday for the first time this year is John Scott of Fearn Farm in Easter Ross, who is hoping to demonstrate to the public the efforts farmers are going to, in order to conserve and enrich their natural environment.

With over 4000 breeding ewes, 250 Shorthorn and Luing cattle, there is plenty to keep the public glued to their screens, as well as a sneak peek at the Scott’s new holiday house and their busy renewables operation.

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“For the last six or seven years we have been meaning to get involved with Open Farm Sunday but by the time we got through lambing we kept putting it off,” said John. “This year we decided to condense our lambing, so we were all set to go live but Covid interrupted plans.

“When we got asked to do online it was a no brainer and works well for us. We will potentially be busy with harvest which will be interesting for the public to see and we’re hoping to video some of the ewes being sorted for tupping, take a wander through the beef shorthorn and maybe sneak a look at the new holiday house too.


Similar to Lucy Wilson, John has already had some experience on Go Rural as part of their virtual farm tours and believes more farmers should be sharing videos of what is happening on their farm.

“We should be taking every chance we get to engage with consumers as we are chuffed with what we produce, and we want to communicate our stories with the public.

“We also need to reinforce the message that we are not just about livestock but that we are custodians of the land who want to hand it over to the next generation in a better state than we received it,” he said.

The Scott’s have planted around 15 kilometres of hedges to provide shelter for animals and to create wildlife corridors to link up various areas of woodland located around the farm. They have also recently installed a new pond which John said has a couple of islands in the centre of it which have provided refuge for ground nesting birds away from foxes.

“A fantastic reason why more farmers should be getting involved with virtual tours is that we are able to open up the north of Scotland which isn’t always as accessible to everyone else. We are able to connect up all parts of the country.”

John hopes to take part in the physical Open Farm Sunday event if all goes ahead next year and even said he might prepare some beef boxes for the public to try and buy while they visit, to complete the farm to fork experience.

For more information on Fearn Farm visit HERE


Farmers can take part through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #LOFS20. Saturday 19 – share your food stories, seasonal recipes and take part in cookery demonstrations. Sunday 20 – open your virtual farm gates and share what is happening on your farm. Biodiversity focus – send in videos and share photographs of what you are doing to protect and enhance the wildlife and biodiversity on your farm.