An inspiring tale to tell, by LEAF Chief Caroline Drummond

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This week is National Storytelling Week and farmers have some of the best and most important stories to tell of all.

Farmers would have been among the world’s first story tellers, gathering around fires as they cared for their livestock, telling tales of generations past and how the world began. Chores such as planting or harvesting would have been made easier by chatting and telling jokes.

Today, when many farmers work in isolation, getting together with others is a precious time when ideas and experiences can be shared. At LEAF we find that fellowship of farmers is the key ingredient to the success of our farm demonstration network. There are now nearly 40 working farms where farmers gather and share what they have learnt.

But a successful farming industry is one that shares its stories and interacts with the wider world and there is a thirst to know more about farming among the public. That is why over 250,000 people flock to hundreds of farms on LEAF Open Farm Sunday every year. So, on the 7th June visitors up and down the country will be enthralled by the stories farmers have to tell and the passion with which they tell them. For our 15thanniversary year, we are encouraging and supporting more farmers to open their farms, to reach out to people about what they do and why farming matters.  Stories help draw us together, they can be transformative and a powerful entry point to understanding the world of farming.

Storytelling is key to how schoolchildren learn and social media has introduced a whole new dimension to an ancient art, allowing classes to interact remotely with ‘teachers’ through Skype and Facebook live. This explains the success of Farmer Time, which sees farmers regularly sharing their stories with hundreds of schools across Britain. Elsewhere, LEAF Education integrates the marvels of farming and food production in the curriculum.

Some of the best stories are never told because of the lack of an audience or the confidence to tell them. That is why it is such a pleasure to see famers who have used LEAF’s Speak Out Toolkit open up and see people respond to their stories.

Farming’s story of producing wholesome food, while enhancing the environment is one that finds a ready and willing audience.  We all have our own unique farming stories to tell – make 2020 the year that you take part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday and share your farming stories.

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