Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend which took place virtually last weekend had an online reach of almost 250,000 people across the three days and the same numbers again in the week’s leading up to the Virtual Weekend itself.
The event, run by the Ulster Farmers’ Union is a celebration of our farmers and the food industry. Primarily the initiative aims to help the public, particularly those from a non-farming background, better understand how our food is produced and to raise awareness of the importance of the local supply chain.
Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, visitors could not physically attend farms this year, but instead the farms came directly to the public through Facebook Live streaming and pre-recorded videos shown across Open Farm Weekend’s social media channels. The three days of live activities took place on Castlescreen Farm near Downpatrick on Friday, Broughgammon Farm near Ballycastle on Saturday and Armagh Cider Company on Sunday.
Throughout the Virtual Weekend viewers got the chance to see Michelin chef Alex Greene create a signature dish for Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend using Castlescreen Dexter short rib, vegetables from Millbank Farm and cider vinegar from Long Meadow Farm. They also got the chance to hear from Rory Best about his family farm Acton House and his diet during his rugby career with Ireland, see the wonderful range of vegetables grown by the Cole family on Broughgammon Farm and sold directly in its café and farm shop, hear advice on how best to maintain apple trees from the Troughton family at Armagh Apple Farm, and also hear about farm crime prevention from the Rural Crime Partnership and countryside conservation from Ulster Wildlife. All 19 participating farms from across Northern Ireland also had a video showcase created for each of them, that captured glimpses of their daily lives on the farm, all of which are still available to view through the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend website and Facebook page.
David Brown, Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend chairman and deputy president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union said,
“We have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback about Bank of Ireland Virtual Farm Weekend. Granted the format was different this year but in some respects it gave people the opportunity to engage with and enjoy farms they mightn’t have visited in past Open Farm Weekend’s. We hope after learning about what makes each farm special, viewers now feel inspired to visit them again in the future.
On behalf of the whole Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend team, I want to pass on my thanks to the farms that took on this challenge so passionately, our title sponsors; Bank of Ireland UK, and additional sponsors, Moy Park, Asda, LMC, NFU Mutual and the Irish Farmers Journal who provided financial support and of course the public for engaging so enthusiastically online, we hope to see you all again in 2021!”