WITH two months until LEAF Open Farm Sunday on June 27, when hundreds of farmers open their farm gates to the public, organisers Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) have announced the appointment of eight ambassadors to support farmers, crofters and smallholders thinking of taking part.

Each with a background in agriculture, the ambassadors' role is to encourage participation by sharing ideas to engage visitors and give practical information on how to implement safe and fun social distancing. This year LOFS is putting a strong focus on hosting small, socially distanced farm walks and talks to provide an intimate insight to what happens on farm.

LOFS manager, Annabel Shackleton, commented: “This year we are seeing more people spending time in the great outdoors and cooking from scratch, and there is a genuine interest across society to learn about where food comes from, the work farmers do and how the countryside is managed.

“With staycations and trips to the countryside increasing, we anticipate there will be more people than ever wanting to visit a farm this summer, and we want to encourage as many farmers as possible to get involved with the confidence they can manage their events safely.

“In order to support farmers, we felt it was important to establish a strong network of ambassadors who have knowledge and experience in on-farm events and LEAF Open Farm Sunday. We are very excited to welcome five new ambassadors, and welcome back three former co-ordinators, forming a strong network to support anyone considering taking part.”

In addition to being on hand to speak one-to-one with farmers, co-ordinating regional groups and presenting at events, ambassadors are recording a series of short videos to help with the planning of a LOFS event. Topics covered include how to create a hand-washing station, using a ticketing system to manage the number and flow of visitors through to communications support and creative activity ideas. These will be available on the LEAF website alongside a range of other free resources.

The new appointments are: Anne Mair-Chapman (North East England); Jon Myhill (East England); Molly Biddell (South East England); Rona Amiss (South West England); and Helen Chappell (North West England).

They join Andy Guy (Midlands), Jamie McCoy (Wales) and Rebecca Dawes (Scotland) who have all been reappointed, having worked with LOFS for more than five years and each hosting their own on-farm events.

The ambassadors will be hosting three online farmer meetings open to anyone interested in taking part in LOFS, or any experienced hosts looking for new ideas.

During the short one-hour zoom call, there will be an opportunity to meet some of the new ambassadors, listen to their top tips, answer questions, shares ideas and speak to hosts.

These sessions will take place on Monday, May 10, 19:30 to 20:30; Wednesday, May 12, 12:30 to 13:30; and Friday May 14, 08:00 to 09:00

To find out more, or to register to host an event, visit www.farmsunday.org.