Title sponsor of Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, Bank of Ireland UK, has announced it will continue its support for a further three years.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union led initiative has been principally supported by Bank of Ireland UK since 2014 and seeks to educate the public about where their local food comes from.
To date over 70,000 people, including children via the schools programme, have visited working farms in Northern Ireland, helping them to have confidence in local farming practices and see where their food comes from.
Bank of Ireland UK head of agriculture NI, William Thompson, said: “It is my privilege to announce that we will continue our support of Open Farm Weekend for the next three years. Bank of Ireland UK has been part of the initiative since it began in 2012 and took the opportunity to become title sponsor in 2014. It is encouraging to see the event go from strength to strength and become a key event in the NI farming calendar.
“The decision to renew the sponsorship agreement demonstrates our commitment to the local agriculture industry. We know the hard work that farmers put into running their businesses and initiatives like Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend help to engage with the public and encourages more support towards local produce, which in turn benefits the farmers.”
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend chairman and UFU president Barclay Bell added: “We are delighted that Bank of Ireland UK recognises the importance of this initiative and we are indebted to them for their continued support. To have their backing for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 events helps us to plan ahead, build on our brand awareness and attract news audience to want to visit our participating farms.
“On behalf of the UFU, I would like to record our thanks to William and his colleagues at Bank of Ireland UK for their financial support helping us to deliver this very worthwhile initiative.”
The search is now on to find farms willing to open their gates and fields to participate in the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2017. Next year’s event will run on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June with school visits, by prior arrangement, planned for Friday 16th. Farmers that sign up to host will be given training and support in advance and a range of resources to help them get prepared for the public coming onto their land. To register your interest email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9037 0222.
“In 2016, 23 farms opened their gates to the public and we would like to have a similar number participate in 2017. As ever, we would like to have a wide range of industries recognised and have farms from all six counties in Northern Ireland so members of the public have somewhere they can visit in their local area come June,” concluded Barclay Bell.
For more information on the initiative, visit the website www.openfarmweekend.com, follow on Twitter @BOIopenfarm and like Open Farm Weekend on Facebook.