On the 18th and 19th June 2016, 23 farms across NI will be opening their gates to show the public where their food comes from as part of Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend.
Now in its fifth year, this event is very popular with families and had over 21,000 visitors in 2015. This year we have a really exciting line-up of farms. Farms are broad ranging from dairy to arable, some have been previous participants, some are new, some are small and some are big – this really highlights the diverse mix of talent that we have in our industry. Each farm is planning interesting and interactive activities for visitors to enjoy, ranging from farm tours and demonstrations to farm themed competitions. But at the centre of it all, each farm will be telling their story of what goes into producing their product and the journey it takes to reach our plates.
Participating farms also open on Friday 17th June for school visits by prior arrangement. More and more schools each year are visiting farms particularly as it fits in with the NI curriculum. Where else could you find a more perfect classroom?
2016 is NI Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of local food and drink which would not be here without the care and hard work of our farmers who produce it. So to recognise and celebrate this, each farm will be offering food tastings linked to their product to complete the supply chain story.
UFU President and BOIOFW Chair, Barclay Bell said: “Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is a unique opportunity to educate the public about local food in a fun and interactive manner. It’s also an important means to reconnect the public to the countryside.
“Of course the stars of the show are the farmers and their families. Each farm puts in a tremendous amount of effort and their pride and dedication is evident. This event is for the benefit of the entire industry and I thank all the participating farmers for getting involved- without them this event could not be possible. I would like to especially welcome our two participating Co Tyrone farmers. For a few years, we didn’t have farms open in all counties but by their participation, we can now offer venues in all six counties in Northern Ireland.
“I would encourage farmers who perhaps would consider opening their farm in 2017 to come along to a farm and see how they are laid out and the various activities on offer to get a better feel for what is involved- we are always looking for new venues!”
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is a free, fun-filled and educational experience for consumers. Farmers are inviting consumers to venture behind the scenes to experience the journey from farm to fork. Feedback from previous years has been positive and consumers have left farms with an appreciation of the hard work farmers do to produce high quality food and recognised the importance of buying local.
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is being delivered by Ulster Farmers’ Union and is sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK and supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund; NFU Mutual, Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme, Asda and Tesco. The weekend would also not be possible without the help and resources of Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, CAFRE, the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association and Food NI.
So please get on board and help encourage the public and schools to visit their nearest participating farm. For further information and for specific opening times, visit www.openfarmweekend.com.