Express & Star

Public appreciating the countryside more than ever

The pandemic has given people a greater appreciation of the landscapes farmers provide, with 71 per cent of people saying they feel fortunate to be able to access the British countryside a new survey has found.

Countryside on Shropshire/Welsh border

More than 2,000 UK adults were interviewed about their post-pandemic habits, with more than half (53 per cent) now more likely to seek out leisure and tourism in the UK countryside than travelling abroad.

With many turning to the countryside’s ‘green gym’ when traditional gyms were closed during lockdown, younger adults aged 18 to 34 are now more likely to continue exercising outdoors than returning to indoor facilities.

The survey was commissioned as part of Farmers Guardian’s #FarmingCAN campaign which aims to showcase what farming delivers for the nation and how it can be a key block as the country rebuilds from the pandemic.

A separate survey by the National Farmers’ Union found that visiting the British countryside has improved the physical and mental health of people living in towns and cities across Britain over the past year, with 87 per cent who visit the British countryside saying visits to farmed landscape had improved their wellbeing and nearly half (47 per cent) that they valued the British countryside and farmland more since the pandemic began.

Of those, 84 per cent agree their visits had made them appreciate the role farmers play creating our iconic rural landscapes.

Richard Bower runs a major diversification at Lower Drayton Farm, between Penkridge and Stafford, including an indoor playbarn, outdoor attractions like a maize maze, accommodation and a registered health and wellbeing centre which offers courses on mental health.

He said: “The pandemic has put things into perspective for a lot of people and they seem more connected with the food we eat and the environment we live in.

“As farmers we provide a whole range of benefits, providing food and fuel and caring for the environment, so a visit to a farm can not only be exciting and fun, but also educational. What better place to learn more about food production and nature than on a farm."