Enterprising farmers across Northumberland have had their presentation
and media skills polished to help them educate the public about
rural life and work.
The innovative two-day training sessions were organised by LEAF
(Linking Environment and Farming).
Northumberland farmers John and Helen Renner were awarded Rural
Development Service (RDS) funding to bridge the gap between farmers
and consumers, as part of the North East Farm Demonstration Programme.
As a result, they have organised two public open days at North
Bellshill, a mixed farm near Belford, and called on neighbouring
farmers to act as guides for visitors.
To help the farmers involved in the open day, specialist presentation
skills and media training was organised.
John Renner explained: "The idea of the open days is to
increase public understanding about farming practices in the
fields around them and the countryside at large.
"We are trying to make the public aware of something that
they don't know they are interested in.
"We involved a number of neighbouring farmers with the
open days. All these guides and presenters have been specially
chosen because they have a positive attitude and want to create
a better understanding and value of the farming industry and
to narrow the gap between consumer and producer.
"We felt it was very important that we all had some training
to make sure that we get our message across to show the public
what we are doing and why.
"Helen and I invited 14 farmers to the two-day sessions.
On the first day, public relations experts talked to us about
communicating with our audience. We discovered how to talk to
groups, were given tips on to how to handle discussions and also
taught how to do television, radio and newspaper interviews.
"On the second day, we had training from professionals
about how to present talks, use visual aids and how to hold events
or open days. The training was invaluable. To increase public
knowledge about our industry we need the right skills to get
our message across.''
Arable farmer David Burn from Fenham-le-Moor, Belford, was also
involved in the training and acted as a guide at the open days.
He said: "The media training was very useful and I certainly
would feel more confident now if I had to give an interview to
a journalist. The training on presentations skills and answering
questions also helped my role as a guide at the farm when I gave
a talk on livestock issues, arable farming, the local wildlife
and the history of the area and farming.''
Farmer David Thompson of Broxfield, a mixed farm near Alnwick,
Northumberland, also attended the two-day sessions.
He said: "This type of training is essential if we are
going to converse and communicate with the public and get a positive
message across about farming and the countryside.''
Sue Harrison, an adviser for the Rural Development Service in
the North East, said:
"Here in the North East we're lucky enough to have some
forward-thinking farmers who want to create new ways of welcoming
visitors into the countryside.
"The North East Farm Demonstration Programme and the media
training is a great venture for us and we look forward to working
with more farmers to open up more access to the countryside.
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