LAST weekend, farmers from across Britain and beyond took part in LEAF's Online Farm Sunday, giving hundreds of thousands of people the chance to discover more about how and where their food is produced.

The online event, which this year replaced the traditional on-farm events, included a busy programme of interactive live video tours and demonstrations on LEAF's OFS Facebook page, with farmers across the country also sharing their own pictures, recipes and video clips across social media.

LEAF’s Honorary President, HRH The Countess of Wessex, recorded a message of support to kick off the day, before the first live video welcomed people to see vegetable harvesting in action at demonstration garm, G’s Fresh. The day’s tours then made stops at an organic Arla dairy farm in Dorset, a Welsh sheep farm, mixed farms in Scotland and Jersey, pigs in Wensleydale and concluded with NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman, Ali Capper, showing viewers her fruit and hops farm in Worcestershire. Virtual tours from further afield enabled people to get a glimpse of a Kellogg’s rice farm in Spain and a LEAF Marque pineapple farm in Ghana.

Phil Le Maistre, who gave a live tour of his Jersey Dairy farm, said: “We had a great time hosting for LEAF Online Farm Sunday. We had originally planned to open for Open Farm Sunday in June, however, due to Covid this wasn’t possible. It was slightly strange doing the live stream, especially not having members of the public in front of you asking questions, however, being able to show the public the process of milking the cows in the parlour was fantastic.

"Plus, we were able to extend our audience to everyone in the UK and further afield, not just Jersey! We enjoyed having the opportunity to show people the standards which modern day farmers adhere to, along with all the hard work that goes into putting all of our great LEAF Marque certified Jersey Dairy products on the table."

North-east LEAF demonstration farmer John Renner was joined on a Zoom call with chef Richard Sim to showcase Northumberland lamb. Berkshire pork and Welsh beef featured in demonstrations from Newlyns Farm Shop and Cookery School in Hampshire and Hotel Plas Hyfryd in Pembrokeshire. Further demonstrations included a healthy pizza for kids from farmer’s wife, cook and educator, Karen Watson of Essex’s Food4Thought, and a cocktail made by Fluffy Moo’s cook, Lucy Wilson with Scottish blueberries from their neighbouring farm.

The live videos were supported by a series of pre-recorded videos and content looking at provenance, wildlife, biodiversity and sustainable farming methods, including an educational video explaining the workings of a John Deere combine harvester.

More than 660k opportunities for people to see food and farming-related content in September were generated on the LEAF channels alone, in addition to activity from farmers, organisations and sponsors increasing the reach and impact of the campaign even further.

Chief executive and farming ambassador for Love British Food, Caroline Drummond, said: “We’re delighted that LEAF Online Farm Sunday gave us the opportunity to showcase the full kaleidoscope of farming in such an honest way. The weekend showed everything our farmers do to produce food, while nurturing the wildlife and biodiversity on their land, including the technology, the skills, the innovation, and the passion that goes into food production. I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the farmers, chefs, dietitians and cooks who took part and to all our sponsors and supporters who made this amazing weekend possible.”

LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager, Annabel Shackleton added: “It has been wonderful celebration of food and farming enabling people to travel the length and breadth of the UK and overseas in a single weekend! What an opportunity to meet so many farmers and hear about their farming practices. The feedback from industry and our virtual visitors has been so positive we are looking to build on this concept in 2021.

"Farming has such a great story to tell, there is a real appetite amongst the public to learn more. We will embrace technology to reach far and wide to share the story of farming and everything it delivers. But we also look forward to supporting farmers hosting on-farm events on LEAF Open Farm Sunday on June 13, 2021.”

All the virtual live tours and presentations are now available to view on the LEAF Open Farm Sunday website