Step into the countryside to enjoy Open Farm Sunday
08:00 07 June 2014
It’s a chance for families to get a close-up look at businesses that are a driving force of the region’s economy.
Farms across Norfolk and Suffolk will be taking part in the annual celebration - offering everything from trailer rides around fields to encounters with newly-hatched chicks, calves and lambs.
Families will have the chance to follow nature trails, watch sheep shearing and inspect farm equipment old and new.
The event is being organised by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), a charity promoting sustainable farming, the objectives of which are close to the heart of all the farmers taking part.
Rob Mutimer, inset below, and his family will be sharing their passion for high-welfare, low food miles production when they open the gate to Woodland Farm, Swannington, near Reepham tomorrow.
His family has run the 350-acre livestock farm since 1970 and opened their Swannington Farm to Fork butchery, now a well-known brand, in the interests of more sustainable production.
“The whole ethos of the farm is high welfare. An abbatoir just three miles away at Felthorpe helps to minimise food miles.”
They have laid on a varied programme and will be joined by suppliers such as Norton’s Dairy demonstrating cheese making.
Mr Mutimer said: “We have got 350 breeding ewes and 700 sows and will be offering tractor and trailer rides around the outdoor pig unit with a guide.
“We will also have a machinery demonstration with both old and new machinery on show. People will be able to see how they did cultivation after the war compared to nowadays.”
Equipment on display will include everything from ploughs and combines to sugar beat harvesters.
Mr Mutimer said: “We have set up a nature trail around the farm taking in the woods and hedgerows and families will have the chance to look out for various wildlife.”
He said the farm day, which would be signposted off the Reepham road out of Norwich, was “100pc free” and there would be refreshments on site.
“It is really nice for the men who work here to show the public what they do,” he said.
At Bowes Farms’ Saham Hall Farm near Thetford, it is hoped visitors will be able to see pheasant chicks hatching in the incubator.
Farm manager Andy Watling said there would also be trailer rides around the 4,500-acres to inspect their 300 cows and 600 ewes as well as the varied crops being grown.
As well as walks, sheep shearing demonstrations and machinery displays there will also be free competitions such as guess the weight of the bullock and name the calf as well as prizes for wildlife spotting on a nature trail. The Holkham Estate, near Wells, will also be taking part, inviting visitors to look around its mixed farm featuring arable crops, beef, sheep, pigs, deer and vegetables.
A spokesman said: “There will be the chance to view a display of small tractors and let farming staff tell you how they work, take a trailer ride to explore the area, find out how sugar beet is grown and made into sugar, watch sheep shearing demonstrations and sheep dog trials and meet the cows and pigs we have on the estate.
“There will be fun and games for our younger visitors too.”
At Gressenhall Farm near Dereham, visitors will be able to meet Suffolk Punch horses and watch them working, carrying out the seasonal tasks.
Families will also be able to make bread and butter in the farmhouse kitchen and find out how farming methods have changed over the years with Norfolk’s Last Horseman, Ray Hubbard.
A good farm needs rich biodiversity and at Gressenhall there will be a chance to see what the birds are doing this summer – including barn owl chicks – with the help of the nature cameras; chat to experts from the Hawk and Owl Trust.
Watch sheep shearing by Mark Taylor of Peacock Farm and step inside a Norfolk farm shepherds hut – beautifully created by Andrew Buxton and based on the original used on his family farm in Heydon right up until the 1960s.
For a full list of farms taking part in Open Farm Sunday across the region - and what they offering - visit www.farmsunday.org/