Farms in the west of the Province are being encouraged to act as hosts for this year’s Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend taking place on June 18 and 19.
This year, the fifth for the initiative will be a special year as it coincides with the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 which is being co-ordinated by Tourism NI, supported by Food NI.
The Chairman of the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend Steering Group, Barclay Bell, who is Deputy President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, revealed that last year over 21,000 people had visited more than 20 farms, a record in the history of the event.
Barclay said that while they had a good mix of farm types across Northern Ireland, they were appealing to more in the west.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union led initiative has also made important strides in helping promote food education through a dedicated schools programme.
He said, “With 2016 designated as the Year of Food and Drink in Northern Ireland, we are looking for farmers to volunteer and help to tell their part of the food chain story.
“In 2015, 21 farms opened their gates to the public and we would like to have a similar number participate in 2016 with a particular call to expand farm numbers in the west of the province, in the Tyrone and Fermanagh areas.”
Bank of Ireland UK Head of Agriculture NI William Thompson added: “We are delighted to continue our support of the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend especially given the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016. The initiative is a great marketing opportunity for food producers or those with farm diversification projects to open their gates.”
Food NI Chairman and 2015 Open Farm Weekend host, John Best said: “The range of food and drinks that our members are producing is more diverse than ever before.”
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