Open Weekend farmers praised

BOIOFW Steering Group members take charge of the BBQ to say thanks to the 2017 participating hosts, left to right, Graeme Campbell (CAFRE Greenmount), Rebecca McConnell (Purple Rain, Project Manager), Kate Cairns (UFU), Chairman Barclay Bell, Linda Davis (Laurel View Farm), Sylvia Matthews (Donagh Cottage Farm), Heather Stewart (UFU), Ashley Morrow (Bank of Ireland), Christine Cousins (Food NI) and Vincenta Leyden (Purple Rain, Schools Co-ordinator).
BOIOFW Steering Group members take charge of the BBQ to say thanks to the 2017 participating hosts, left to right, Graeme Campbell (CAFRE Greenmount), Rebecca McConnell (Purple Rain, Project Manager), Kate Cairns (UFU), Chairman Barclay Bell, Linda Davis (Laurel View Farm), Sylvia Matthews (Donagh Cottage Farm), Heather Stewart (UFU), Ashley Morrow (Bank of Ireland), Christine Cousins (Food NI) and Vincenta Leyden (Purple Rain, Schools Co-ordinator).

Farmers who participated in Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2017 were officially thanked for their efforts this summer at an event held at CAFRE Greenmount recently.

Sixteen farms opened their gates and fields on Saturday, June 17, whilst on Sunday 18th June, 13 farms participated across Northern Ireland.

Farms also opened their gates to primary school children on Friday, June 16, allowing pupils to learn more about the farm to fork journey of their food.

Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend chairman and UFU president Barclay Bell said: “We were blessed with wonderful weather over the weekend which helped to bring out the public and many families enjoyed getting out and about on our farms.

“We know their experiences were positively enhanced by the effort the farmers went to arranging displays, demonstrations and activities to help adults and young people understand the industry and get a better appreciation of where their food comes from.

“We owe a big thank you to Roy McMurray of Bullsbrook Farm, Dromore, and the Matthews family of Donagh Cottage Farm in Donacloney, and all our farmers for the time they devoted to getting their premises ready for the public. They all make a wonderful effort to ensure members of the general public have safe and informative visits, enhanced with warm hospitality via food and drink tastings.

“From our visitor evaluation feedback, we know that 42% of our visitors attended BOIOFW for the first time, so in our sixth year, it is great we are still attracting new audiences. Many visitors visited multiple farms giving them insights into various sectors.

“An overwhelming majority said they would visit a farm next year proving there is a huge demand for this initiative that keeps growing from strength to strength.”

Agri manager for Bank of Ireland UK, Richard Primrose, added: “As title sponsor, we want to add our thanks to this year’s hosts of Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend. Once again, our visitor feedback was extremely positive with 69% rating their visit a 10/10 and 17% 9/10. This is a reflection of the enthusiasm the farmers showed in making them feel welcome and giving them free and transparent access to the agri-food supply chain.”

During the evening, farmers were presented with a commemorative plaque to display on their premises. Planning is underway for the 2018 event with dates confirmed as Friday 15th (schools day), Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June.

Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is delivered by Ulster Farmers’ Union and is sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK and supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, NFU Mutual and ASDA. The weekend would not be possible without the help and resources of Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, CAFRE, DAERA, the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, Food NI and the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme.

For more information, visit the website www.openfarmweekend.com. You can also follow on Twitter @BOIopenfarm and like Open Farm Weekend on Facebook.