18 farms across Northern Ireland opened their gates to the public and enjoyed a busy weekend with more than 16,000 people attending the recent Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend event.
With activities such as sheep shearing, pony rides, animal displays, games, local produce markets, entertainment, and cookery demonstrations from the Livestock and Meat Commission, this free event provided the perfect chance for members of the public to find out more about their local farm, reconnect with the countryside, meet the farmer and get a better understanding of where their food comes from.
This was the first year for many farms including Ranelly Farm in Omagh, CAFRE Equine Centre in Enniskillen, D&D Holland in Articlave and The Orble in Dervock, with the latter welcoming 2,100 visitors who helped raise £18,000 through an auction for the Causeway Down’s Syndrome Support Group.
David Brown, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union said: “We are delighted to learn that more than half of the visitors that attended this year had never attended Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend before, reinforcing our belief that members of the public still have an avid interest in learning more about the local agri-sector.
“The farms and sponsors put in a lot of effort to make sure the Open Farm Weekend runs smoothly, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them and of course every person that attended one of the farms.
“Although the weekend only runs over three days, giving the public access to farms to learn more about where their food comes from will be beneficial for the sector in the long-term.
“Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend has been running since 2012 and has attracted in excess of 100,000 visitors. The event is also sponsored by Asda, Cranswick, the Livestock and Meat Commission, NFU Mutual and Irish Farmers Journal and supported by Food NI, CAFRE, DAERA and the YFCU.
Wendy Gallagher, farm liaison for Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend said: “The feedback from both farms and visitors was excellent. Children from non-rural areas loved feeding the animals that they would never usually get a chance to hold and see while their parents created some long-lasting family memories. We are already planning for the 2020 event and would encourage farms to get in touch if they are interested in participating next year.”