The Ulster Farmers’ Union have called on farmers around Ballymoney to take part in next year’s Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend. Set to take place on 13th & 14th June for the fourth consecutive year, the award-winning initiative plans to expand yet again.
The 2014 initiative saw visitor numbers double from the previous year’s event with close to 20,000 people visiting the 21 real, working farms which opened their gates to offer families the opportunity to experience life on a farm and learn more about how our food is produced. With visitor numbers steadily increasing each year, organisers hope to increase public knowledge of farming and food production and are actively recruiting a diverse range of farm types across Northern Ireland.
Barclay Bell, Deputy President of Ulster Farmers’ Union and chair of the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend steering committee said, “The Ulster Farmers’ Union is very proud of the success of the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend and the progress it has helped us make in raising awareness of the reality of farming in our province. We understand the commitment for farmers considering taking part and would like to give as much time as possible to allow for decision making. For this reason we are urging farmers to start thinking now about the benefits of opening their farm to the public for one weekend and to sign up to become part of this fantastic initiative. We have found that the farmers who take part find it a very worthwhile and enjoyable event and we are very keen to build on this enthusiasm and invite others on board.
“This year we had ten farms in County Antrim and we’d hope to have at least the same number again in 2015. Anyone who visited one of these fantastic farm events will tell you what a great experience all the farm visitors had at each location.”
William Thompson, Agri-Manager with event sponsor Bank of Ireland UK said, “The Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is a great marketing opportunity for food processors or those with farm diversification projects to open their gates to the public and increase their community’s knowledge of food produced locally. For farms which are more ‘traditional’ commercial farms, taking part in the initiative is a great way of showcasing the very best of the farming sector to the public and representing their industry in a positive light.”
There is a full programme of training and support already in place for the 2015 initiative and project managers are on hand throughout the year to offer advice and support to participating farmers.
Mr Bell added, “We will shortly be launching a comprehensive FAQ document which will be available online at www.openfarmweekend.com for any farmers who are thinking of taking part in the initiative this year.”
Any farmers who would like more information can call Project Manager Martin Byrne on 028 90393837 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register their interest or ask any questions they may have about participation.