Open Farm Sunday – seeing farming through ‘fresh eyes’

15 April 2024

Children looking at lambs

Photograph: Elm Tree Farm

Learn how one NFU member’s experience of LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday left her feeling incredibly proud of her work and more connected to her community.

NFU member Lisa Allen works at Elm Tree Farm, a mixed care farm which is part of a larger organisation called Brandon Trust. The farm used to be an old hospital farm, meaning they rent NHS Property Service’s land.

Having started Open Farm Sunday in 2014, Lisa and her team took a break due to COVID-19, and their 2023 event welcomed 600 visitors to the farm.

“Like most farms, we are not open to the public all year round,” Lisa explained. “We have a farm shop, but the rest of the farm is closed off from the public.

“Open Farm Sunday allows us to open to the public in a controlled way, showing them what we do and allowing them to explore and learn, both about farming and the world of learning disabilities, all while having fun.

“We are hidden from view, set between a house and a motorway, and every year we have people saying they never knew this was here.”

Seeing our work through fresh eyes

“People are genuinely interested in farming and are keen for their children to connect with nature and where their food comes from,” Lisa said.

“Agriculture as an industry can seem very closed and complicated to understand for the public, and often, the public only sees it in the news when something goes wrong or there has been a controversy.

“Open Farm Sunday allows farmers to share their work, land, and community, bust some of the myths and create lasting change in attitudes and beliefs. For care farms, it also gives those of us who are not publicly facing a chance to showcase the work of the people we support.

Open Farm Sunday allows farmers to share their work, land, and community, bust some of the myths and create lasting change in attitudes and beliefs.”

NFU member Lisa Allen

“Our favourite moment is the number of people saying they had no idea we did so much here. Seeing our site and our work through fresh eyes always leaves me incredibly proud of what we do here.”

How the event has evolved

Lisa explained how they make use of downloadable LEAF signs to create trails, and provide food and music along with crafts and play activities, as well as ‘meet the animal’ sessions and guided tours.

“Sitting in the tractor for a photo opportunity is always very popular!” Lisa added.

“Over time, as we have become more confident with the event. We have changed the times from our first event, which was 11am – 2pm, to now being 11am –4pm.

“We have a load of people and organisations who are involved with the event. For example, we have people we support, some of our supported employees to help out, and local ecologists, local police community support officers, and other parts of our parent company get stuck and involved.”

Top tips for host farmers

If you have never opened your gates with Open Farm Sunday, why not give it a go this year?

There is no set format you need to follow – you are in control of your event. 

Use the LEAF website, there are plenty of resources on there, including webinars and Zoom meetings in which you will have the chance to interact and talk to minding people who open their gates on Open Farm Sunday.

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.

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.