Open Farm Sunday was a fabulous day out

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Barbara Cossins, founder of Love Local Trust Local, was thrilled with the success of Open Farm Sunday – but there is work still to do, she says

image by Courtenay Hitchcock

I can’t believe it’s been a full five years since we last did Open Farm Sunday back in June 2018.
It was a significant day – I sat down afterwards and decided we had to do something to help the public know which foods they could trust again. It was the time of fake farms on supermarket food packaging and the public buying things that weren’t as they were labelled; of the Red Tractor label on goods that had been wrapped and packaged with the Union flag, when the origin was actually Poland, Italy, New Zealand or elsewhere.
We are still hearing stories of cheap, rotting meat finding its way into our food chain – food that has been imported from abroad and then re-processed, re-wrapped and sold as British. Unbelievable!
We British farmers have to use our voices – we must fight back against the corruption of our food labelling.
Here in Britain, we farm to some of the highest standards in the world. We need to stand up for that … shout it from the rooftops.

Another success
Roll forward five years and 2023’s Open Farm Sunday was another amazing day. Yet again a huge number of people came to see us – I hope they all came not just because it’s a lovely free day out in the countryside, but also because they wanted to learn about what they are eating. They wanted to be educated on how their food is produced and to meet the farmers who are doing the hard work first-hand – the people who tend the animals, grow the crops and produce the milk, cheese, beer, cider and more. It is an opportunity for them to find out where the food on the table comes from, how it’s made and much more.
Some of the Love Local Trust Local award winners from the last three years joined us for Open Farm Sunday too, showcasing their local produce. Visitors were able to sample and buy some of these amazing Dorset producers’ goods. It felt very much as though we were there together as the LLTL community – a great feeling. Many of our wonderful Love Local Trust Local sponsors also came and supported us, getting involved in helping to educate and chat with the public.
Chef Eric from Restaurant Les Enfants Terribles came to sample some of the award-winning Book & Bucket Company cheese for his menu. Dirty Dog joined us with his wonderful homemade pizzas, Purbeck Ice Cream brought their delicious ice cream, Steph White of White Star Catering brought her van to cook Rawston Farm burgers and sausages … and many more that I haven’t room to list. What a gathering of Dorset’s foodie finest.
A big thank you to all our staff, who gave up their time off to help make the day such a success. It’s a huge task to put on such an event, and there is no way we could do it every year, but it is important for farmers to engage with the public, to help educate everyone on where food really comes from – and that it is not from the supermarket shelves. Hopefully, everybody who came to see us learned something new.

In Jezza we trust
One thing that was very evident was that a lot of people had watched Clarkson’s Farm, and were more interested and understood a little more than they did before. Like him or loathe him, Jeremy Clarkson is spreading great knowledge of food and farming to more people in the UK.
So remember that all of us, farmers and consumers (and watchers of farming programmes), must continue to fight our corner. We must always support local food, our farmers and all our producers and growers.

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