Close to 300,000 visitors will descend on British farms on June 9. I dreamed up Granja obert diumenge (OFS) alguns 14 fa anys. Its purpose is to build trust and bust misconceptions, bringció the public closer a agricultors i 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 FULLA, 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, i tecnologia of production and biodiversity que farming delivers for the país and the countryside. Whilst corporate empreses see a need to hire spin metges and public-relations juggernauts a greenwash their environmental credentials and allegiance to the sustainability of the planet, farmers open their gates. Honesty and openness són an easy sell.
Què other industry can boast 400 empreses (granges) i 7,000 helpers (neighbouring farmers, husbands, wives, i local volunteers)? They give cap amunt not only a Sunday, però també dies devoted to preparation—all to offer visitors a free day out.
It’s media manna. Television, print media, 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? Pou, not quite.
When OFS began, farmers were pushing at an open door. La mitjans de comunicació llavors broadcast només one story de British farming: a bad one. A portrayal de 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. La BBC’s flagship Sunday night programme about rural issues draws up to 7 million viewers. Niche food, provenance, and country wear brands are in vogue. Farmers unre 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 l'UK is scheduled to leave the European Union d'octubre 31. In what has become un divisive, protracted, and shambolic process, Gran Bretanya’s departure from the EU asks more questions than it answers for its farmers. Running parallel to Brexit, un nou ungriculture bill is chugging its way through Parliament. We don’t know much de la detail surrounding the future of agricultural support o 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 granja support looks inevitable, as do some adverse tariffs or duties.
We have two choices. Join the race to the bottom and try and compete en preu with countries que have much lower costs of productions o make a compelling story as to why choosing British food at the checkout marks un commitment to food quality, a healthy environment, i un vibrant landscape.
Michael Gove the Secretary of State for medi ambient, Food, i Rural Affairs ha anunciat his desire to redistribute any direct farm support into “public goods.” Irònicament, conveying benefits of public goods to the public is not straightforward. La public’s pang of guilt that comes from exporting its social and environmental conscience when buying imported food grown to a lower environmental standard is short lived. “We can’t be environmentally conscious some of the time,” diu Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who has sparked environmental protests around the world. Farmers need to make la cas per a when consumers buy British, they invest in the legacy tha 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.
En la dècada de 1980, Britain stopped mining and started importing cheaper coal. Mining communities have never fully recovered. Unless we continue to invest en la 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; sostenible pràctica, a real commitment to biodiversity, and an openness and transparència to build trust.
We have such a great story to tell. Let’s share it.