Once you’ve registered for Open Farm Sunday it’s time to plan. Below is some essential information to help you prepare for your event. Don’t forget if you have any questions then please get in touch:
Open Farm Sunday Host Farmers’ Handbook
The handbook has lots of useful information to help you organise a successful Open Farm Sunday visit and covers everything from promoting your event to collecting feedback. It also has a template risk assessment and lots of top tips on how to ensure your event is engaging and safe.
Plan your route by taking account of interests and needs of your visitors, time available, distance, weather. Put signs up at the entrance, for parking, toilets etc. and if possible have ‘give-aways’ ready – farm facts, leaflets, stickers, maps. If you operate guided tours or trailer rides, put a sign up saying where the activities will start from and when... good communication with visitors helps them find their way.
Wet weather plan
Have a Plan B for bad weather but don’t let it ruin your day. Inevitably rain especially, or cold, will mean that fewer people will come and you will almost certainly need less parking, less help and fewer refreshments. However you can lessen the impact of bad weather by stressing towards the end of your publicity material that (assuming this is the case) there is still plenty to see and do indoors, that attractions will be moved to the barn etc. Suggest people come in boots, stout shoes or wellies and bring a jacket if the weather is poor. At the beginning of June, check the seven day forecast for your area and keep checking it.
To spread the workload and demonstrate the breadth of knowledge, skills and expertise in farming - team up with your farming neighbours, agronomist, vet, conservation advisor and sponsors. You could ask them to help publicise the event, or invite them to say a few words on the farm tour to give you some breathing space! You could also involve other local people and groups in the community to get involved such as the Young Farmers, the Scouts etc.
We don’t envisage an entry fee for Open Farm Sunday events. However, if you want to raise have a cause that is close to your heart such as a local charity, or charge for specific activities such as tractor and trailer ride, make sure you make that clear on your website entry and on your publicity material.
Health and Safety
Health and Safety is important but it should not overshadow your day. The key is to assess the risks and plan around them. We’ve compiled some of the key information and golden rules for you. Read more
On the day itself
Helping visitors find their way around your farm
Let the characters from Shaun the Sheep help your visitors find their way around your farm and encourage them to keep their hands clean. We've got lots of signs for you to download and print out - take a look in the download library here
If possible have a map of the farm on hand or have volunteers at the entrance to help direct customers.
Communicating with visitors
Make it memorable: Using props and hands on activities really helps visitors' to remember their day. LEAF have also produced a booklet with step by step instructions for 12 other activities to help make farm walks and talks memorable, fun and interactive. A new website 'Farming is Magic' also has lots of great ideas and short video clips to inspire you to host engaging on farm visits - the site has been developed by experienced OFS hosts, Susie Emmett and David Jones who is also our OFS East of England Co-ordinator.
Make the link between your farm and people’s fridges: Always start off from plate to plough and make your story relevant to your audiences’ lives. If you process your own food have it out on display or buy some that could have been produced on your farm to help visitors make the link
Keep it personal - Your visitors are far more likely to remember stories about you, your family, your animals, why you love farming, why you wanted to become a farmer. They are less likely to remember how many acres you farm, number of cows, crops and specific stewardship options
Being positive, prepared and jargon free - If you get a tricky question, do not try and answer on behalf of the industry, but keep it personal to your farm which is far more positive.
Event size and publicity - There is a range of different ways you can publicise your event to get the numbers you would like. Whether you’re wanting a small scale event for a select few people, an event for the masses, or somewhere in between, we’ve got some useful information showing you how you can get the numbers you want. Read more
Photos don’t forget to take lots of photos of your event and send them to us (email@example.com) We’d love to see them shared with us on social media too. We’re on Twitter (@openfarmsunday) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/LEAFOpenFarmSunday). If you plan to take photographs or video of visitors for any marketing or promotional activity (such as websites, Facebook, sending to your local media, leaflets, etc.) you should get consent from visitors. We have produced some materials to help which you can find in our download section.