During the pandemic we saw a 34% increase in people visiting the countryside and appreciating the role farming plays in creating that environment. Connecting people with rural areas on their doorstep that they may never have visited before can have a long-term legacy of greater appreciation, valuing and use of the countryside, as well as boosting health and wellbeing.
Through a celebration of the countryside, we wanted to also grow an appreciation for British farming by bringing people close to where their food comes from, and better understand the role British farmers play in protecting and enhancing our much-loved rural areas and beauty spots.
As part of the Levelling up rural Britain campaign this is a priority for the NFU all year round, but during July we stepped up our efforts to coincide with the school summer holidays.
The Countryside Code
- 5,000 What’s growing in my field? signs were made available to members in July and are still available to download. These signs allowed the public to connect with the farmed landscape, and gain a greater understanding and respect of what farmers do to create and maintain the farmed landscape.
- We teamed up with the dogfather Graeme Hall to celebrate the beauty of the countryside and remind dog owners to keep their dog on a lead, especially around livestock. This message was seen by 816,000 people.
- We reiterated the Countryside Code through a range of images and videos on our social media channels, as a chance to educate visitors, both experienced and new, who were enjoying the countryside.
- We launched a competition on our social media channels in conjunction with FarmStay to celebrate the wellbeing benefits of the farmed landscape and everything British farmers do to shape it.
- We asked for photos of people in the countryside, making sure that farmland was included, and to tell us what the place or people in the picture mean to them. The prize was £1,000 towards a farm stay as well as a hamper of British Food.
- The competition received nearly 1,500 entries, with our winner sharing their camping holiday in Aberystwyth and how the countryside has helped their mental health.
- We surveyed more than 2,000 British people who live outside of rural areas across England and Wales, to better understand the link between wellbeing and the countryside.
- 87% said that visits to Britain’s farmed landscape had improved their wellbeing.
- 84% agreed their visits had made them appreciate the role farmers play creating our iconic rural landscapes.
- We shared the survey results on social media, which reached 56,000 people. We gained support from the Mental Health Foundation and CFE (Championing the Farming Environment) on social media, who also shared the results.