LEAF Open Farm Sunday has been postponed.

Due to take place on Sunday, June 7, the event is now scheduled to happen on Sunday, September 20.

Now more than ever, people want a happy experience, and this is exactly what LEAF Open Farm Sunday offers, says mixed farmer Rona Amiss, who has opened her farm gates to the public since the event, ‘farming’s annual open day’, started in 2006.

Rona, who farms beef cattle, grass-fed sheep and cereals with husband Nevil at Tregullas Farm on The Lizard peninsula, said:

“We are remote but our farm is the backdrop to the village and we wanted to bring the community on to the farm, to show them what we do, engage and break down barriers. Farmers desperately need good publicity and LEAF Open Farm Sunday is the best way to do this. There’s excellent resources and support from LEAF and we involve other farmers and community groups to take the pressure off doing it all ourselves. For the public, it’s free, it’s local and rare access to a ‘real’ farm and all that links farming with their daily lives such as food and the environment.”

The Amiss’ event, held most years in the last 15, now attracts more than 1000 visitors, which Rona says is manageable and an enjoyable number, even though it may sound overwhelming to some. Visitors are given a map to follow a self-guided tour of the farm, populated with signs that explain different aspects of the enterprise, and activities offering further interaction are run by friends, family and volunteers.

A neighbouring dairy farmer, who chooses not to host himself due to the nature of his farm and risks of working machinery, supports their event instead bringing milking equipment along and talking about the dairy industry. Another neighbour brings vintage tractors for visitors to sit on. The local Brownies do the barbecue, the Scouts the car parking, the village school bakes cakes and locals are invited to sell their own produce.

“We want it to be a community event and we make it an experience. We worry every year about keeping it fresh and interesting, and we will introduce new ideas, but we have found that people just love the opportunity to speak to farmers more about what they do, pet a lamb, sit on a tractor and have a cup of tea. They will often come back for the more of the same year-on-year. They are fascinated by the sheep shearing, for example.”

For the family, who market the event mainly through Facebook, a press release and to local schools, it is important to create memories to take away. Activities include making something that also tells a story, for example a willow crown decorated with wild flowers that gives them a platform to talk about the rare flora and fauna in the SSSI area surrounding the farm, or seed bombs made with clay and seeds.

“It is a lot of work but it’s not unpleasant work and it does make you tidy up the farm. If you are lucky enough to have the facility, get other farmers who can’t host themselves to help you,” Rona advises. “Keep it small. If it’s a farm walk for 30, that’s 30 more people that know more than they did yesterday. It doesn’t cost us much except in time. There’s lots of free resources available from seeds to activity sheets, and LEAF walks you through Health & Safety. And it’s really rewarding. It’s easy to think at the moment that everyone hates farmers but actually in our experience people love farmers and are keen to learn more. As we crack open a beer at the end of the day, we all feel warm and fuzzy about it and our visitors have gone away feeling the same.”

For further information on LEAF Open Farm Sunday, tips and to register, farmers should go to farmsunday.org/open-my-farm.