Open Farm Weekend has announced that Bank of Ireland (BOI) is continuing its title sponsorship of the province-wide agri-food initiative.

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) event is set to take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14, as it enters its ninth year of existence.

The initiative seeks to reconnect the public with where their local food comes from and offers an opportunity to meet the farmers and processors who produce it.

Why have Open Farm Weekend?

"It is vital that we as an industry help to educate and make consumers aware of the work of the agri-food industry and share how our high-quality, nutritious and award-winning food is produced," said Edwin Poots, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

"My department’s continued support in the delivery of Open Farm Weekend helps meet that task.

"To the farms that are participating, I know that it can be daunting opening up your farms to the general public but I commend the hard work and passion that the host farms put into making the weekend so successful,” he concluded.

To date, over 100,000 people - including children through the schools programme - have visited working farms in Northern Ireland to hear the story behind the food and gain an understanding of the world-renowned, quality farming practices.

Visitors also gain insights into how the countryside is being shaped and cared for and the current strength of Northern Ireland’s ‘food tourism’ potential.

'A thriving agri-food industry'

Richard Primrose, BOI UK agri-business manager, said: “BOI is committed to supporting all agri-food related businesses through a range of products and services.

"We understand how vital this industry is to the rural communities within Northern Ireland. The growth and prosperity of the wider Northern Ireland economy also relies heavily on a thriving agri-food industry," he continued.

Consumers are keen to learn about where their local produce originates from and we believe that BOI Open Farm Weekend provides the perfect opportunity to practically illustrate and educate consumers on how our local food is produced.

"It also provides a fantastic opportunity for farmers who are keen to showcase their business and build relationships with people from their local community.

“We know the hard work that farmers put into running their businesses and initiatives like Open Farm Weekend helps to engage with the public and encourages more support towards local produce, which in turn benefits the farmers," he concluded.

“Open Farm Weekend was established in 2012 to showcase our farming industry and the wonderful work our farmers do," said David Brown, BOI Open Farm Weekend chairman and UFU deputy president.

"Its focus is to help the public, particularly those from a non-farming background, to better understand how our food is produced. It also helps raise awareness of how supply chains work through our local food industry."

Brown concluded, saying: "The passion and enthusiasm, shown by farm participants over the years, has been truly inspirational."

How to get involved

Recruitment for farms wishing to participate is currently underway.

Farmers that sign up to host will be given training and support in advance and a range of resources to help them get prepared for the public coming onto their land.

To register your interest, simply call: 07912-408256; or: 028 9037 0222; or, alternatively, email project manager, Wendy Gallagher, at: [email protected].