The Guild of Agricultural Journalists NI Chapter were invited to a breakfast briefing at Hillstown Farm Shop in Randalstown recently to find out more about Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2016. The event coincides with Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 which is being coordinated by Tourism NI, supported by Food NI.
The initiative, which is led by the Ulster Farmers’ Union, has attracted almost 60,000 people throughout the past four years. Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend Chairman and UFU Deputy President Barclay Bell 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 to a wide and captive audience. This is an exciting time for our industry to really showcase our excellent produce and be part of this important celebration. From the small artisan outlets right up to the large scale producers, we want to hear from you if you would be interested in hosting this summer.
“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. Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend helps educate people about how their food is produced and highlights the value of the agriculture sector to Northern Ireland.”
Food NI Chairman and 2015 Open Farm Weekend host John Best encourages farmers and artisan producers alike to take part. “The range of food and drinks that our members are producing is more diverse than ever before. We have always had great raw ingredients but there is growing number of artisans who are really pushing boundaries.
“As part of the Year of Food and Drink, each month celebrates the diverse aspects of our agri-food industry. January’s theme is breakfast month and we were treated to a wonderful breakfast today at Hillstown Farm Shop, who are Food NI members and recipients of the Great Taste Awards.”
Farmers are being encouraged to register their interest via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9037 0222. The weekend takes place on Saturday to Sunday, June 18-19.
For more pictures from this event see the gallery here