Open Farm Weekend celebration

The UFU and Bank of Ireland would like to thank the 21 farmers and their families who opened their farms to the public. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
The UFU and Bank of Ireland would like to thank the 21 farmers and their families who opened their farms to the public. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Farmers and the organisers have been celebrating the success of this year’s Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, and have already begun making plans for 2016.

This year’s events attracted over 21,000 people to family farms over two days in June, and this week an event was held at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus to thank the 21 farmers and their families who opened their farms to the public.

The social event included a barbecue of local food supplied by Tesco as well as a prize-giving ceremony for all participants.

The Open Farm Weekend initiative was launched by the Ulster Farmers’ Union in 2012 to allow people to visit farms to see for themselves the reality of agricultural life and to meet the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to produce the products that appear on our supermarket shelves.

UFU deputy president, Barclay Bell, praised the efforts of all the participating farmers and their families.

“Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend continues to grow year on year and its continued success has to be attributed to those farmers who willingly give of their time to welcome the public onto their farms and indeed into their homes,” he said. “Without their continued support this project would not be possible, I feel it’s important to say ‘thank you’ for all the hard work they put in to showcasing Northern Ireland’s first class farming industry.”

Mr Bell also thanked Bank of Ireland UK for their commitment to the agri-food industry through their sponsorship of the project. The event was also sponsored by ASDA, NFU Mutual, the Prince’s Countryside Fund, Tesco and the UFU.

He continued: “As part of the organising committee I want to say a big thank you to all sponsors and supporters for their help in ensuring the success of Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend. We are already looking forward to 2016 and I am confident the event will continue to grow, not least because 2016 will be Northern Ireland’s ‘Year of Food.’”

William Thompson, Head of Agri for sponsor Bank of Ireland UK, added: “As main sponsor we are delighted with the overwhelming success of the event and recognise the voluntary efforts of all the farmers and supporters which make it possible. This event has grown in popularity each year and has established itself as one of the primary events in Northern Ireland’s agri food calendar. We look forward to engaging with the organising committee in the coming weeks to plan ahead for next year’s event in what will be an exciting year of food for Northern Ireland.”

The Ulster Farmers’ Union are keen to hear from farmers who might be interested in taking part in next year’s event and would urge any interested parties to get in touch with the initiative by emailing info@openfarmweekend.com or calling the union on 028 9037 0222.