Rare Breed farmer joins Open Farm Weekend line-up

Three new farms are set to open their gates to the public as part of this year’s Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend – including one of the stars of UTV’s recent Rare Breed series.

Co. Down goat farmer Geoffrey Ringland will join 16 other farmers in granting the public access for one weekend only.

Ringland combines life on the farm with a full-time job for a haulage company and won over fans of the show with his enthusiasm for farming and passion for his prized goats.

Mossbrook Farm in Carryduff – which is home to Farm House Treats bakery – is also participating for the first time, along with Gareth Murray’s poultry farm in Co. Armagh.

Running on Saturday and Sunday, June 16 and June 17, the popular initiative gives consumers and their families the opportunity to visit farms across Northern Ireland for free.

This year’s farms include:

  • Acton House Farm, Acton Road, Poyntzpass, Newry, Co. Armagh, BT35 6TB;
  • Armagh Apple Farm, Ballinteggart House, 73 Drumnasoo Road, Portadown, Co. Armagh, BT62 4EX;
  • Blackberry Hill Farm, Ballymacanallen Road, Gilford, Co. Armagh, BT63 6AE;
  • Broughgammon, 50 Straid Road, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, BT54 6NP;
  • Bullsbrook Farm, 26 Black Bog Road, Dromore, Co. Down, BT25 1EH;
  • CAFRE Greenmount, 45 Tirgracy Road, Muckamore, Co. Antrim, BT41 4PS;
  • Castlescreen Farm, 32 Castlescreen Road, Downpatrick, Co. Down, BT30 8TE;
  • Cavanagh Free Range Eggs, Co. Fermanagh (schools only);
  • Churchview Farm, 17 Kilkinamurray Road, Ballyward, Co. Down, BT31 9QR;
  • Dolan’s Social Farm, 50 Glennasheevar Road, Knockaraven, Garrison, Co. Fermanagh, BT93 4AA;
  • Drumrammer Farm, 15 Drumrammer Road, Ahoghill, Co. Antrim, BT42 2RD;
  • Hillstown Farm, 128 Glebe Road, Randalstown, Co. Antrim, BT41 3DT;
  • Laurel View Farm, 18 Knowehead Road, Templepatrick, Co. Antrim, BT39 0BX;
  • Long Meadow Farm, 87 Loughgall Road, Portadown, Co. Armagh, BT62 4EG;
  • Mossbrook Farm, 20 Mossbrook Road, Carryduff, Co. Down, BT8 8AJ;
  • Murray’s Farm, 32C Old Church Lane, Aghalee, Craigavon, Co. Armagh, BT67 0EY;
  • Walls’ Farm, 27 Bryansford Road, Hilltown, Co. Down, BT34 5XY.

Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend chairman and UFU president, Barclay Bell, said: “Now more than ever, farmers need to be telling their story and this initiative is a great way for us to engage with the public and show them the industry up-close.

It has become an important part of our work for the past seven years, allowing us to reach out to the non-farming community to promote the vital work of farmers across Northern Ireland.

“Many farms have been handed down through the generations, passing on skills and looking after livestock and the land – so the event this summer allows us to celebrate the individual farm’s story, both in the present and in the past.”

Bank of Ireland agriculture manager NI, Richard Primrose, added: “We are delighted that 17 farms have volunteered to participate this summer, particularly given the difficulties the winter weather has brought.

“These dedicated farmers are to be commended for taking the lead in communicating their story to a wider audience and we are grateful for all the effort and commitment they put into hosting our visitors.”

Training day for the 2018 Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend at Greenmount. Image source: Cliff Donaldson

At the training day, visiting speakers from NFU Mutual, HSENI and Mash Direct helped farmers to plan ahead and think of interesting, informative and safe ways to engage with the public on their farms and via social media.

Open Farm Weekend visitors can plan journeys to the participating farms on the website, which lists the various opening times and activities which are unique to each farm.

In the UFU’s special centenary year, farms will also be raising money for the nominated charity – Air Ambulance NI.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union led initiative, principally supported by Bank of Ireland UK, has been running since 2012 and has attracted almost 90,000 people throughout that time.