Open Farm Sunday – ‘Stop thinking about it and just do it’

02 May 2023

NFU member from Hereford Ally Hunter Blair enjoying Open Farm Sunday

NFU member from Hereford, Ally Hunter Blair enjoying opening his farm to the public.

Learn how one NFU member’s experience of LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday created lasting memories for his visitors and two of the best days he’s ever had on his farm.  

NFU member Ally Hunter Blair runs a 500-acre enterprise owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, and has participated in two LEAF Open Farm Sunday events, attracting visitors mainly from the local community.

While he enjoys online public engagement through his social media channels, he believes the conversations on-farm are more powerful, and it is important that the industry takes part in initiatives such as Open Farm Sunday – farming’s annual open day.

“They’re the two best days I’ve ever had on my farm. You have people, usually families, that don’t necessarily come to learn, but you teach them in a way that they enjoy. They have actively decided to come to your farm, and you have the chance to pass on a little bit of knowledge. Even just stroking an animal or jumping in the wheat field, people take away those lasting positive memories, and for me, that’s the most important aspect of the day.”

"So, my top tip for anyone considering taking part this year is to stop thinking about it and just do it. I guarantee it will be the best day that you’ll have on your farm."

Ally Hunter Blair, arable farmer and NFU member from Cornwall

Ally hosted his first event in 2014 but initially wasn’t sure he had enough to show visitors.

“It was something I really wanted to do, but in my mind, we were was an arable farm in June, when there is very little going on. I quickly realised all the things we had done and were going to do to get ready for harvest were new to the public, so there was actually lots to talk about.”

Explaining modern farming

“I think it’s important that people understand what happens on a modern farm. I’ve got a young daughter, and as you go through her kids’ books, it portrays quite an old-fashioned model; it’s that nostalgic view. The reality of modern-day arable farming is linked to innovation, science and technology, and that is something that really excites me.

“I drew a big 2.5m circle in the grain store showing how accurate your mobile phone GPS is, so everyone can relate to it. I then drew another circle with a 50-pence piece in the middle, and people couldn’t believe this massive tractor that was parked next to them, could drive itself within the diameter of the coin. Everyone now has a sat nav, but they didn’t realise the level of accuracy – it blew their mind.”

Open Farm Sunday Ally Hunter Blair

A humbling experience

Ally went on to explain, “I was shocked by how much people enjoyed the day and how appreciative they were of the time we had committed to getting the farm ready. The amount of thank you messages we received for just allowing people onto our farm was so humbling. So, my top tip for anyone considering taking part this year is to stop thinking about it and just do it. I guarantee it will be the best day that you’ll have on your farm. I'm on social media – Ally Hunter Blair (@wyefarm), if I am wrong, come and find me!”

To find out how the NFU supports Open Farm Sunday with resources that will help you make the most of your day visit our Open Farm Sunday page. 

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