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All the fun of the farm open day

But there’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes, as Charlotte Maclean explains.

When our marketing manager forwarded a circular asking whether anyone had a client who might be interested in hosting an Open Farm Sunday event, I had just come from a meeting with Caledonian Estate, where I’d been asked for “blue sky thinking” to help promote the estate within the local community.

Taking part seemed like a no-brainer; after all, how hard can it be to host an open farm event? 

That was back in 2017 and since then we have facilitated the Estate’s hosting of two successful events, the most recent in 2019. Both have been harder to organise than we initially expected, but they have been hugely rewarding in terms of the benefit to our client in opening up their business to the public and in educating local people about farming and life on a rural estate. 

For both events, we helped our client to put together their entertainment licence, which included traffic management plans, arranging suitable toilet and hand-washing facilities on site, appropriate signage, suitably qualified caterers and so on.  On both occasions, the client has given a budget to work towards and a steer on how they see the day unfolding and Galbraith have led on putting this vision into practice, with help from many others. 

We have also been the main liaison point between the various parties who have kindly brought along livestock, machinery, information and activities on the day, and have headed up the health and safety responsibility and ensured important aspects such as costs and insurance are taken into account.  

Caledonian’s home farm, Easter Cadder, is an ideal venue in many respects. It is 15 minutes from Glasgow, it has ample flat car parking, a completely concreted yard for disabled/pushchair access, and multiple empty grain stores for cover out of the rain. Its main drawback for this type of event is that the estate is primarily an arable enterprise, so on most days of the year there is little to see. This means that in order to host an open farm event, everything must be brought in. 

We therefore worked closely with the estate maintenance team and agricultural contractors to co-ordinate a variety of interesting, educational and fun demonstrations to showcase the huge variety of valuable work the estate undertakes within the local community: 

  • Some of the agricultural tenants set up pens of cattle and sheep, gave talks on dairy and beef farming and hosted a sheep shearing demonstration.  
  • The grain merchants came along to provide information on arable cropping.  
  • Local farmers provided vintage and modern tractors to show the comparison in size. 
  • The estate shooting syndicate organised a gundog demonstration, which was very well received by local children, many of whom were previously unaware of the concept of a working dog, as opposed to a pet.  
  • The local Riding for the Disabled group, which rents grazing from the estate, hosted pony rides for the children, which also allowed them to raise funds for their charity. 
  •  The police and fire brigade came along to help educate children on rural crime issues and fire safety, and the chance to have a ride in the fire engine and take a selfie in a police hat was an added bonus! 
  •  The tree surgeons the estate uses organised a chain sawing and tree climbing demo, with children climbing up some of the trees next to the farm using ropes and harnesses.
  •  The estate has recently signed a lease with a local forest school (see page 3) which occupies an otherwise unused area of woodland for children’s outdoor activities, and they organised various activities for the children such as using flints to make fire and decorating T-shirts using flower dyes. 

What was very apparent on the day was the exemplary relationship the estate enjoys with its tenants and neighbours. This is something which Galbraith works hard to sustain through our management. 

The estate’s farm contractors, the Wilson family, form an integral part of Caledonian’s management team and played a key part in the event’s success. The Wilsons have been a key part in the estate’s farming decision making process for more than 10 years. Along with the estate’s agronomy advisors, they bring technical knowledge and on-the-ground experience to the management team, which is highly valued.  

Rich Oliver of Caledonian Estate, said: 

“We were thrilled to host another successful LEAF Open Farm Sunday on Easter Calder farm. There are many individuals, organisations and groups involved in the day-to-day running of the estate, and this was very apparent to all the visitors at the event. Their hard work and commitment is the reason the land remains so well utilised, and this, in turn, benefits the local economy and community.