Organisers of Northern Ireland's farm open day event 'Open Farm Weekend' have confirmed this year's event will take place virtually.
This year marks the 10th year of the event, which is sponsored by Bank of Ireland.
The 2021 open weekend will take place virtually from Friday, July 30 until Sunday, August 1, with a packed schedule of virtual activities to showcase Northern Ireland food and farming at its best.
The initiative, which is led by the Ulster Farmers’ Union, is yet again set to capture the imagination of families and foodies from across the province and give a real behind the scenes snapshot of the local farm-to-fork story.
Educating the public
Northern Ireland Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots said: "Our agri-food industry in NI is renowned worldwide for producing high quality, wholesome, nutritious and award-winning food.
"Educating and making consumers aware of the source of their food, and the hard work by our farmers in continuing to produce these high-quality products has an important part to play in maintaining demand for our local produce.
"My department’s continued support in the delivery of Open Farm Weekend helps meet that task.
“I would like to thank the Bank of Ireland for their continued commitment to this important initiative.
"To the farms that are participating, I know that it can be a challenge to prepare and open up your farms to the general public - even in the virtual world - but I commend the hard work and passion that the host farms put into making the weekend so successful.
"I would encourage people to view the virtual events to gain an understanding of the efforts of our farmers and industry in continuing to provide food on all our tables, especially during a very challenging year," Minister Poots added.
See behind the scenes on more than 20 farms
Although visitors are unable to physically attend farms again this year, the online activities throughout the weekend will still give the public the chance to connect with more than 20 farms from across the province.
Richard Primrose, Bank of Ireland UK agri-business manager, said: “The growth and prosperity of the wider NI economy relies heavily on a thriving agri-food industry.
"The last year, in particular, has shown how vital this industry is to communities within NI and we’re proud to be the title sponsor again to show our support.
"By continuing the online format for Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend, it will give farmers the chance to showcase their farms to new audiences.
"It will also provide the perfect opportunity to practically illustrate and educate consumers on how our local food is produced."
Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president David Brown added: "The last 12 months have brought about a heightened awareness of where our food comes from and puts the local supply chain at the forefront of our minds.
"We encourage everyone to get behind this year’s event and celebrate the wonderful produce available right here in Northern Ireland,” he concluded.