Open Farm Sunday was introduced in 2006 as a way of connecting farms with their local communities. It's essentially an industry open day when farms across the country invite people in to see how they operate This year it will take place on 11 June 2017: see www.farmsunday.org.

There are of course risks involved in opening your doors to the public. Open Farm Sunday recommends that you have Public Liability Insurance of at least £5m and you should check your insurance covers all the activities you are planning. But what else should you be planning and thinking about now to ensure you're properly protected? 

If you do nothing else carry out a written risk assessment! You're required by law to assess the risk posed by your operations and you have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to staff, visitors and members of the public, whether they pay or not. 

Your assessment should cover:

1. Staff - who will be doing what and when?

2. What type of visitor are you expecting? If for example you expect lots of children to attend the risk is potentially higher and you should consider:

  • The age of the children.
  • Any specific vulnerabilities
  • Where they can and can't go, and how this will be managed.
  • How they will arrive and depart from your event
  • Hand- (and boot-) washing facilities.
  • What activities will be available and what is out of bounds.
  • Safety around livestock

3. How many visitors can you safely accommodate? 

You might need to think about:

1. Controlling numbers. Can you stagger entry times? Can you manage visitors around a fixed route/list of activities?

2. How will you entertain people whilst they are waiting?

3. What catering arrangements will you have?

4. How will you manage visitors if the weather is less than favourable?

5. How will visitors enter and leave your farm? Do you have safe parking and pedestrian routes?

With only weeks to go it would pay to think about these matters now. Open Farm Sunday is growing in popularity across the country and is a great way of helping the public understand what it means to be a farmer in this day and age. Don't let a lack of proper planning spoil the potential opportunities.