Seventeen farms have signed up to participate in Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2017 and have undergone training to help them be prepared to welcome the public this summer. Running on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June, the popular initiative gives consumers and their families the opportunity to visit farms across Northern Ireland, for free.
Seven new farms will open their doors to the public including Castlescreen Farm near Downpatrick who specialise in producing Dexter beef and Jamisons Potatoes in Ballycastle. Previous hosts are kindly opening their gates once again and making a return will be Armagh Apple Farm, Hillstown Farm and Laurel View Farm who have each hosted annually since the initiative began in 2012.
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend Chairman and UFU President Barclay Bell said,
“Whilst our farm numbers may be down on last year’s figure, we are pleased with the quality of the farms and the message they will help deliver to the general public. We have an array of farming sectors represented including for the first time, a social farm in County Fermanagh. We value each of the farms coming on board for the sterling work they do in promoting the industry to a wide audience.”
At the training day held at CAFRE Greenmount, visiting speakers from NFU Mutual, HSENI and Agri Aware helped farmers to plan ahead and think of interesting, informative and safe ways to engage with the public on their farms.
“We were delighted that Deirdre O’Shea, the new Executive Director of Agri Aware, was able to join us. The UFU has been working closely with Agri Aware providing resources for schools to help them understand farming. Their expertise on making complex farming techniques easier for the general public to understand was much appreciated by our host farmers giving them new and creative ideas to put into practice in June.”
Bank of Ireland UK Agri Manager Richard Primrose added,
“It’s great to see 17 farms volunteering to represent their industry this year. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have such wonderful local food and drink produce and this initiative helps the general public trace their story back to the field and farm. These dedicated farmers are playing a commendable role in communicating the important role farmer’s play in the supply chain to a wider audience 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.”
Visitors can plan journeys to the participating farms on the website which lists the various opening times and activities which are unique to each farm. Schools are invited to visit farms by arrangement on Friday 16th June. Teachers can view their newest farms on the website and email email@example.com to request a class visit. Details of the Schools Competition, run in association with ASDA, are also available online.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union led initiative, principally supported by Bank of Ireland UK, has been running since 2012 and has attracted over 70,000 people throughout that time. Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is also sponsored by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, NFU Mutual and ASDA. The weekend would not be possible without the help and resources of CAFRE, the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, Food NI, and DAERA through the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme.
For more information, follow on Twitter @BOIopenfarm and like Open Farm Weekend on Facebook.
List of 2017 participating farms in alphabetical order:
Some of the speakers that addressed the farmers at the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend Training event, from left to right, Linda Davis , Laurel View Farm and BOIOFW Farm Mentor, David Cairns, NFU Mutual, Rebecca McConnell, Purple Rain PR & BOIOFW Project Manager, Vincenta Leyden, BOIOFW Schools Co-ordinator and David Lowe, HSENI Inspector.Picture: Cliff Donaldson
This article was written by purplerain