RSPB's Hope Farm has run a successful LEAF Open Farm Sunday event for the last 5 years. Read on to hear from Hope Farm manager Georgie Bray on how 2019’s event went.

“This could have been our first year of wash out rain but someone was looking down on us to help run yet another sunny sell-out event. With sun beaming, we joined hundreds of farmers across the country who opened their gates to the general public for the day. 850 visitors later, with the help of 40 volunteers, and we managed another year that hopefully sent people home with some amazing memories for years to come, and educated more minds about wildlife-friendly farming.

2019 saw a repeat of the old favourites - tractor and trailer rides, the Hope Farm nature trail, farm machinery including a new combine harvester, the Nature Friendly Farming Network, and bird ringing with a star jay of the day.

Being an RSPB farm, we undertake lots of research into invertebrates on farmland, so we used the opportunity to show the public what insects you can see on a farm that provides a home for invertebrates without the use of insecticides. Sophie Mott, who has been on placement with us for the year, was key to organising all these new activities. Both children and adults enjoyed butterfly walks, a minibeast sweep net maze, digging in holes for worms, pit fall traps and the opportunity to make worm and ladybird homes to take home with them. The photo shows a girl sweeping for invertebrates in our wildflower area next to the yard, a habitat that we have on around 4 hectares of the farm.

People of all ages – families and individuals – went home having learnt about wildlife-friendly farming, including the crops, the flowers and the fauna that you could find in farmland and in the garden. Having the machinery, the tractor tours, and the crops growing in boxes around the yard, along with rapeseed oil produced on Hope Farm, really bought the story of farmland to food to life. Many visitors also bought wildflowers and nest boxes to put around where they lived which was a real bonus.

It was an absolute privilege to organise Hope Farm’s Open Farm Sunday for a third year, and to be part of LEAF’s nationwide event. I for one cannot wait to hold the same event next year, and am already looking forward to June 2020.”