Seventeen farms have signed up to participate in Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2018 and have undergone training to help them be prepared to welcome the public this summer. Running on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June, the popular initiative gives consumers and their families the opportunity to visit farms across Northern Ireland, for free.
Three new farms will open their doors to the public including the star of UTV’s recent Rare Breed series, Geoffrey Ringland of Churchview Farm in Co Down. Mossbrook Farm in Carryduff, home of the Farm House Treats bakery, is also participating for the first time along with Gareth Murray’s poultry farm in Co Armagh.
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend Chairman and UFU President Barclay Bell said, “Now more than ever farmers need to be telling their story and this initiative is a great way for us to engage with the public and show them the industry up-close. Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is a fairly new initiative with the UFU’s 100 year history but it has become an important part of our work for the past seven years, allowing us to reach out to the non-farming community to promote the vital work of farmers across Northern Ireland. Many farms have been handed down through the generations, passing on skills and looking after livestock and the land, and so the event this summer allows us to celebrate the individual farm’s story both in the present and in the past.”
Bank of Ireland Agriculture Manager NI Richard Primrose added, “We are delighted that 17 farms have volunteered to participate this summer, particularly given the difficulties the winter weather has brought. We are pleased to support the farmers in this important initiative that gives the general public an insight into the industry. These dedicated farmers are to be commended for taking the lead in communicating their story to a wider audience and we are grateful for all the effort and commitment they put into hosting our visitors. We look forward to welcoming our local communities to Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend in June – it is a great day out for all the family.”
At the training day held at CAFRE Greenmount, visiting speakers from NFU Mutual, HSENI and Mash Direct helped farmers to plan ahead and think of interesting, informative and safe ways to engage with the public on their farms and via social media.
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. In the UFU’s special Centenary year, farms will also be raising money for the nominated charity, Air Ambulance NI.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union led initiative, principally supported by the Bank of Ireland UK, has been running since 2012 and has attracted almost 90,000 people throughout that time. The event is also sponsored by Asda, Cranswick and NFU Mutual and supported by Food NI, CAFRE, DAERA and the YFCU.
For more information, visit the new website www.openfarmweekend.com, follow on Twitter @BOIopenfarm and like Open Farm Weekend on Facebook.