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The countdown begins to local farm showcase!

The public are being invited to don their wellies and get ‘down on the farm’ this summer as part of Open Farm Weekend, taking place between 23rd-24th June. The first project of its kind in Northern Ireland, Open Farm Weekend will invite the public to venture behind the scenes at participating farms to see the story behind Northern Ireland food and its journey from ‘farm to fork’.

The event was officially launched at Belfast’s City Hall this week, with a hatchery of chicks, a vintage tractor and a live local food cookery demonstration bringing the farm to the city to provide a flavour of what can be expected come June.

John Thompson, President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), which is leading the project, explains, “We’re delighted to be bringing the first Open Farm Weekend to Northern Ireland this June. Farming playsa huge role in Northern Ireland society, providing us with our first class food. Despite that, very few people get to see the hard work and fascinating processes behind it.

“A broad range of farms are getting involved, from dairy to arable, and each of those involved are planning interesting and interactive activities for visitors to enjoy, ranging from guided tours to petting zoos, food markets to rural craft displays. We hope local people really embrace the opportunity to get involved in this unique, fun and educational experience.”

Speaking at the launch event, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill added, “I encourage people to take part in Open Farm Weekend, for what promises to be a fun-filled weekend, bringing rural and urban dwellers together, to experience farm life and to see firsthand the processes involved in producing our food.

“Visitors to their nearest participating open farms will get a unique insight into the workings of our farms and also learn more about what’s involved in being part of the farm to fork supply chain.

“I commend the Ulster Farmers’ Union and their Open Farm Weekend partners for this initiative and would particularly thank the participating farmers and their families for their enthusiasm, effort and willingness as we lead up to this event which will help showcase our local products and the work of our agri-food sector,” Minister O’Neill said.

Open Farm Weekend is being delivered by Ulster Farmers’ Union and is supported by Business in the Community NI on behalf of The Prince’s Countryside Fund; Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; Bank of Ireland UK and NFU Mutual.

Further information on Open Farm Weekend is available at www.openfarmweekend.com

Caption: John Thompson (UFU), with two participating farmers Tim McClelland and Kenny Gracey