Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend has appointed a new farm mentor, Linda Davis from Laurelview Farm in Templepatrick.
As a mentor, Linda will provide key support to participating farmers, especially those new to hosting the public on their farms. The farm mentor role is intended as an impartial channel for participating farmers to give feedback on the management of the event but also as an additional layer of support for farmers beyond the event organisers.
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend Chairman and UFU President Barclay Bell welcomed Linda on board: “Linda, and her team at Laurelview Farm, has taken part in each Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend since the initiative began in 2012. She has a wealth of experience that will help other farm hosts who can contact her for practical advice and help.”
Bank of Ireland UK Head of Agriculture NI William Thompson added: “Linda and her husband Robert have been great supporters of Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend and their enthusiasm will no doubt inspire other farmers who decide to take part.”
Linda is looking forward to supporting other farmers in advance of opening their gates in June 2017. Speaking of her new appointment, she said: “Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is a great initiative allowing the public to know more about the local farming industry. We have been proud to host for the past five years and always look forward to the event coming up. It is a great opportunity to work with local Young Farmers’ clubs and local food producers to showcase our industry to the general public, many of which have no access to working farms.”
Laurelview Farm is home to a wide array of animals including sheep, goats, poultry and a pedigree herd of Irish Moiled Cattle. The farm also incorporates an equestrian centre where various breeds of horses such as Irish Draughts, Connemara and Kerry Bog Ponies are kept.
Sylvia Matthews from Donagh Cottage Farm in County Down has also joined the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Steering Group, as a farmer representative. Barclay added: “We look forward to both Linda and Sylvia’s input at the Steering Group meetings as we plan ahead for the event.”
Recruitment for farms willing to participate in Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2017 is still open. The event will run on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June with school visits, by prior arrangement, planned for Friday 16th. In addition to the service of a mentor, farmers that sign up to host will also be given training in advance and a range of resources to help them get prepared for the public coming onto their land. To register your interest email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9037 0222.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union led initiative, principally supported by Bank of Ireland UK, seeks to educate the public about where their local food comes from. To date over 70,000 people, including children via the Schools Programme, have visited working farms in Northern Ireland, helping them to have confidence in local farming practices and see where their food comes from.
For more information on the initiative, visit the website www.openfarmweekend.com, follow on Twitter @BOIopenfarm and like Open Farm Weekend on Facebook.