FARMERS from around North Wales have collectively come together to hit back at the anti-farming messages being sent out by activists.

Several farms in the region opened their gates up to schools in a bid to educate children and the wider public about where their food comes from.

Twelve North Wales based farmers, who were brought together by Farming Connect’s Agrisgôp initiative, formed the Farm and Countryside Education Group earlier this year.

Under the guidance of Agrisgôp leader, Gwen Davies, members of the group got involved in Open Farm Sunday and invited schools on to their farms in an attempt to influence their next generation of customers.

The group holds concerns about the rise in veganism and are not willing for some of the messages being promoted by animal welfare and environmental activists to go unchallenged.

Despite giving up her time for no financial return, Rhian Pierce - who farms beef and sheep on the 300-acre Plas Dolben in Llangynhafal - was keen to get involved because of her fears that there is a growing disconnect between farmers and their consumers.

She said: “It doesn’t make any money now, but in the future it will because we are helping to shape the food choices of future generations, and the people who will consume the food we produce.”

It was the second year that Rhian Pierce had opened up Plas Dolben as part of Open Farm Sunday, and it has helped her visitor numbers treble to over 300. She has invited three schools to her farm to see the industry first-hand, one of which has already visited.

But it was Agrisgôp, a fully funded action learning programme that brings together forward-thinking, like-minded individuals from farm and forestry businesses at a local level, that gave her the certainty she needed to issue those invitations.

“Last year it was mostly family and friends but this year lots of people we didn’t know came along which was fantastic,” she added.

Marianne Burrell, who works at the Rhug Farm Estate, is another member of the Farm and Countryside Education Group.

She explains that the knowledge she has gained through the Agrisgôp experience could help to formalise some of the educational initiatives at Rhug and potentially create employment opportunities, with the estate’s owner, Lord Newborough, also passionate about educating people through ‘farm to fork’ initiatives.