Twenty-three farms have signed up to participate in Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2016. The event, in its fifth year, will coincide with the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 which is being co-ordinated by Tourism NI, supported by Food NI.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union led initiative, principally supported by the Bank of Ireland, has been running since 2012 and has attracted almost 60,000 people throughout that time.
Nine new farms will open their doors to the public including star of UTV Rare Breed series, James Alexander. Previous hosts are kindly opening their gates once again and making a return will be Forthill Farm run by Kenny Gracey, whose animals have featured on the small screen including hit TV shows HBO’s Game of Thrones, BBC series Blandings and BAFTA winning short film Boogaloo.
The 2016 Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend will run on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th June. The Year of Food and Drink theme of Love Dairy will be celebrated in particular at CAFRE Greenmount, Tickety Moo and new host, Donagh Cottage Farm in County Armagh.
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend Chairman and UFU President Barclay Bell said: “Given the difficulties the farming industry is currently experiencing, we are pleased that so many farms are willing to get behind Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2016.
“To help celebrate our fifth event and the Year of Food and Drink, we will have tastings and/or cookery demonstrations on all farms helping to deliver the farm to fork message to the public.
“We are delighted to have two new hosts from County Tyrone taking part. The Buchanan Farm is a beef and sheep farm near Strabane and Moy Park supplier Neil Symington and his family will open Drumhirk Farm outside Dungannon.”
Bank of Ireland UK Head of Agriculture NI William Thompson added: “On behalf of Bank of Ireland UK I’d like to thank all 23 farms who have volunteered to represent their industry this year.
“Initiatives such as this play a vital part in creating awareness of the importance of farming to everyone in Northern Ireland and increasing the value placed on local food production from the general public.
“These dedicated farmers are playing a huge part in building the future of the industry and we all owe them a debt of thanks for their effort and commitment. We look forward to again welcoming our local communities to Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend.”
Find your nearest participating farms and plan your journey on the freshly designed website.
Information is also available on the activities available, animals you can meet and the food available to sample during the weekend.
Schools are invited to visit farms by arrangement on Friday, June 17. Teachers can view their newest farms on the website and contact the farmers directly to plan a trip.
For more information, visit the new website www.openfarmweekend.com, follow on Twitter @BOIopenfarm and like Open Farm Weekend on Facebook.