2012 Finalist

Open Farm Sunday - engaging with consumers...

Open Farm Sunday - engaging with consumers...

So not only do farmers have to be businessmen, agronomists, stockmen, mechanics, plumbers and electricians, they also need to be great communicators…

The importance of this extra 'hat' struck me when I went to an Open Farm Sunday event this weekend. Let me first tell you about the types of people that tend to go to these events:

1) The older generation, often from the town, with lots of questions about how their food is produced;

2) The family - looking for an original day out, where their children can see real life cows and tractors and hopefully build some connection between agriculture and the food they eat;

3) And last but by no means least, the local farmer, who quite frankly just wants to have a nose at what his neighbour is up to.

We most definitely straddled the last two categories. However, although nosiness isn't a virtue I'd encourage, I would urge all farmers that don't host an event to go along to somebody else's - it's a valuable opportunity to hear the views and preconceptions that a large proportion of our population share about farming in the UK.

The farm host dealt carefully with difficult questions, staff spoke sensitively and simply about subjects such as animal welfare, and there were many moments when you could sense people's concerns about an issue melting away. Relief milkers were brought in for the afternoon, so that the herdsman was available to talk visitors through the milking process, and I'm sure that everyone went away with a better understanding of the work that goes into producing their food.

Open Farm Sunday is a great initiative and a fantastic PR opportunity for the agricultural industry. For those farmers that hosted an event this year - now might not be a bad time to discuss with your staff any difficult questions that were raised so that you don't get caught in the same traps again. And for those  who haven't yet plucked up the courage to open their gates to the public - now's the time to get planning your event for next year.


Written by Lauren G at 09:35


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