2020 Open Farm Weekend to take place virtually

Organisers have announced plans to take this year’s Open Farm Weekend event online after the 2020 event was postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The event was initially planned to take place on Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14. However, its digital alternative – Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend – will now take place from Friday to Sunday, July 31, to August 2.

Although visitors cannot physically visit the farms featured, the activities shown online throughout the weekend will still give the public the chance to connect with up to 18 farms across Northern Ireland.

This year’s event will offer members of the public the chance to see farm activities such as robotic milking, grain harvesting, sheep shearing, virtual farm tours, wildlife watching and potato harvesting, as well as a special programme of live activities.

Led by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), the initiative, which is now in its ninth year, aims to show the public how working farms produce much of the nation’s food, explaining the importance of supporting quality local farmers.

Richard Primrose, Bank of Ireland UK agri-business manager, said: “The last few months, in particular, have shown how vital this industry is to the rural communities within NI. The growth and prosperity of the wider NI economy also rely heavily on a thriving agri-food industry.

Now more than ever, consumers are keen to learn about where their local produce originates from and we believe that this year’s Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend provides the perfect opportunity to practically illustrate and educate consumers on how our local food is produced.

“The new online format we are adopting this year will also give farmers the chance to open up their farms to a new audience that could potentially be customers in the future.”

Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend chairman and UFU deputy president David Brown added: “Although Covid-19 has changed the format of this year’s Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend, we believe the virtual activities will still capture its spirit and ethos and ultimately showcase our farming industry and the wonderful work our farmers do.

Having the ‘live’ element is an exciting twist to help farms engage directly with the public and show them what it’s really like to live and work on a busy farm.

“We’re delighted to be able to continue with this new format as it lets us achieve our aim of putting Northern Ireland food and its producers at the forefront of the minds of the consumer.

“We encourage everyone to get behind Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend 2020 and show farms and farm families how much we value the outstanding contribution they make to the whole community.”