Local farmers to open gates to the public

THE Ulster Farmers’ Union has confirmed that two local farms will be taking part in Open Farm Weekend on June 23 and 24.

Saturday, 23rd June 2012, 7:00 am

Open Farm Weekend will see participating farmers across Northern Ireland inviting the wider community to visit their farms to learn more about agriculture and the story behind their food.

A total of 14 farms have signed up to open their gates to the public, including Kane Farm in Doagh and Laurelview Equestrian Centre near Ballycraigy, which is home to cows, sheep, pigmy goats and even alpacas.

During a visit to Laurelview last week to promote Open Farm Weekend, Mayor Victor Robinson commented: “This event provides a wonderful opportunity for people and families to explore their local farms and learn more about the Northern Ireland food chain and its link to nature. It is also provides Laurelview with an opportunity to showcase its fantastic equestrian centre and the interesting array of animals which are resident on the farm.”

Run by the Kane family, the Kane Farm is home to 80 cows, 250 sheep and 30,000 chickens. The farm supplies chickens to Northern Ireland’s largest food company Moy Park, which then end up on supermarket shelves across Ireland. Seamus Kane may be familiar to some after his participation in UTV’s popular Rare Breeds programme, which followed a number of farmers throughout the course of a year.

Seamus said: “The Rare Breeds programme certainly helped showcase the work that goes into producing the food we eat everyday and we see Open Farm Weekend as a real life extension of that. We want everyone to come along and see firsthand how their food is produced and to learn more about modern agriculture.”

John Thompson, President of the UFU said: “Open Farm Weekend arrives at an important time for farmers and the farming sector as a whole. There is a degree of separation in the mind of the public about food and where it comes from. The provenance of food has never been more relevant as consumers become increasingly more aware of food miles and the importance of supporting local. By getting to know the story behind local food, it will encourage respect for both the food itself and for the local farmers who produce it.”

Participating farmers are hard at work preparing for the event and planning a fun-filled weekend of guided farm walks, sheep-shearing demonstrations, food sampling and petting zoos, with each farm creating a completely unique event.

For more information log on to www.openfarmweekend.com