جlose to 300,000 visitors will descend on British farms on June 9. I dreamed up الأحد مزرعة مفتوحة (OFS) بعض 14 منذ سنوات. Its purpose is to build trust and bust misconceptions, bringجي the public closer إلى المزارعين و create an event worthy of media fanfare.
Although OFS will address many of the challenges specific to the United Kingdom, it holds lessons for farmers everywhere—and shows that when we tell our stories, we improve our reputation and prospects.
Managed by the charity نبات, which stands for “Linking Environment and Farming,” OFS has become the largest single-day visitor event in the UK. Farms up and down the country, big and small welcome the public. We showcase the toil, wonder, و التكنولوجيا of production and biodiversity أن farming delivers for اله البلد and the countryside. Whilst corporate الأعمال التجارية see a need to hire spin الأطباء and public-relations juggernauts إلى greenwash their environmental credentials and allegiance to the sustainability of the planet, farmers open their gates. Honesty and openness هي an easy sell.
ما other industry can boast 400 الأعمال التجارية (مزارع) و 7,000 helpers (neighbouring farmers, husbands, wives, و local volunteers)? They givه حتى not only a الأحد, ولكن أيضا أيام devoted to preparation—all to offer visitors a free day out.
It’s media manna. Television, وسائل الإعلام المطبوعة, even Britain’s longest running radio soap, “The Archers,” trumpet the merits and euphoria surrounding our OFS. In a world of turmoil, we all enjoy some uplifting cheer.
Job done? بئر, not quite.
When OFS began, farmers were pushing at an open door. على وسائط الإعلام ثم مرة أخرى broadcast فقط one story من British farming: a bad one. A portrayal من dirty farms peddling poor husbandry and a disregard for the countryside. The reality couldn’t have been more different—and now we’re enjoying a sea change in attitudes. Farmers have forged a much stronger relationship with the media. على بي بي سي’s flagship Sunday night programme about rural issues draws up to 7 million viewers. Niche food, provenance, and country wear brands are in vogue. وarmers أre once again seen as hard-working friends of environmental stewardship and sustainability, not the subsidy–grabbing foes of thriving habitats.
Yet a huge new challenge looms. On Halloween, British farming could turn into a pumpkin—because المملكة المتحدة is scheduled لترك الاتحاد الأوروبي في تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 31. In what has become أ divisive, protracted, and shambolic process, Britain’s departure from the EU asks more questions than it answers for its farmers. Running parallel to Brexit, جديد أgriculture بill is chugging its way through Parliament. We don’t know much من على detail surrounding the future of agricultural support أو trade arrangements with countries inside and outside of the EU.
Farming in Britain is going to come under a lot of pressure. A cut in المزرعة support looks inevitable, as do some adverse tariffs or duties.
We have two choices. Join the race to the bottom and try and compete على الأسعار with countries أن have much lower costs of productions أو make a compelling story as to why choosing British food at the checkout marks أ commitment to food quality, a healthy environment, ومن vibrant landscape.
Michael Gove the Secretary of State for بيئة, وood, و Rural Affairs وقد أعلن his desire to redistribute any direct farm support into “public goods.” ومن المفارقات, conveying benefits of public goods to the public is not straightforward. على public’s pang of guilt that comes from هxporting its social and environmental conscience when buying imported food زrown to a lower environmental standard is short lived. “We can’t be environmentally conscious some of the time,” يقول Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who has sparked environmental protests around the world. Farmers need to make على القضية من أجل when consumers buy British, they invest in the legacy thالساعة creates the landscapes that surround us.
And that brings us back to OFS. There’s no better way to make our case than by throwing open our gates and inviting everybody to visit us and see what we do.
في الثمانينات, Britain stopped mining and started importing cheaper coal. Mining communities have never fully recovered. Unless we continue to invest في على relationship that we have with the British people our rural communities could suffer the same fate. The sentiment is with us. People are more aware of the climate and environmental challenges that we all face. As farmers we have all the ingredients for success; المستدامة الممارسة, a real commitment to biodiversity, and an openness and الشفافية to build trust.
We have such a great story to tell. Let’s share it.