From plough to plate, farm open days are an education
Hundreds of farmers across the country will open their gates on June 10 to welcome the public.
LEAF Open Farm Sunday offers a unique chance to see what happens beyond the farm gate and to show support for the industry.
The event is managed by Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF), the leading organisation delivering more sustainable food and farming.
It offers an opportunity to talk to farmers and find the answers to the questions you’ve always wanted to ask – and even some you’ve never thought of!
As well as producing nutritious food, farmers also grow crops for medicines, clothes, fuel and buildings.
Farmers care for more than 70 per cent of the countryside, manage vital resources like water and soil, maintain miles of footpaths and hedgerows and provide homes for wildlife.
Most Open Farm Sunday events are free and farms of every type and size take part offering a range of activities – so there is something for all to enjoy.
Visitors have the chance to learn more about how food is produced, as well as helping to discover why worms are so important for the soil, why there wouldn’t be much fruit and veg without bees and how farmers look after animals like cows, sheep and pigs, as well as caring for wildlife.
You can also see science in action, including how farmers use the latest technology to farm sustainably.
On many farms you will be able to take a walk or guided tractor and trailer ride, follow a nature trail and, of course, talk to the people that make it all happen, namely the farmers.
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager, said: “From the wheat for our bread and cereals and the potatoes and pork for our sausage and mash, through to crops for fuel, clothes and even cosmetics, it all begins on a farm.
“Farmers play a vital part in our daily lives and LEAF Open Farm Sunday is your chance to be part of The Great British Farm Day and show your support for British farmers and farming.”
Aberdeenshire farms will be playing their part in the open event, among them a Mearns research facility nestling in the Grampian foothills.
The James Hutton Institute’s Glensaugh Farm, near Laurencekirk, is a stunning, managed upland environment with geological formations, agroforestry, sheep grazing, bracken and heather, woodlands, small lochs and red deer.
Farm manager Donald Barrie said: “Visit Glensaugh to see for yourself how we manage a natural environment that has been shaped over millions of years and is now a productive hill farm which combines forestry and livestock farming.
“There will be something for everyone so come and join us on Sunday, June 10.”
A leading dairy farm is also throwing open its gates to the public and local school children as part of the Open Farm Sunday celebration – but this will take place the following weekend.
Roddy and Angela Catto, who farm at Hillhead of Muirton, Whitecairns, near Dyce, have invited local school children to visit the farm on Friday, June 15.
The following day, the farm is encouraging the public to go along.
Working with the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative, there is a treat in store for all who visit.
Not only will they get to see a modern dairy farm and the story of where milk comes from but there are guided tours, sheepdog demonstrations and working machinery on display.
And for animal lovers, there will be cows, calves, sheep, pigs, goats and poultry.
Also available will be a wide selection of locally-produced foods and, on the Saturday, cookery demos and tastings.
Roddy said: “We have pulled together an action-packed, informative and entertaining event that will have something for everyone.
“We are keen that people hear the fantastic story we have about the quality and provenance of local produce.
“We also want the public, especially children, to learn more about careers.
“You don’t need to be a farmer and stuck at the back end of a cow to have a career in our industry.
“There are many farming-related careers which are exciting and rewarding for school children to consider.”
Royal Northern Agricultural Initiative manager Rob Clunas, who has helped organise the event, said: “It should be amazingly informative for everyone involved.”
To find farms opening near you on June 10 visit www.farmsunday.org.