Visitors flock to fields and farmyards for Open Farm Sunday
PUBLISHED: 16:42 10 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:22 11 June 2018
A chance to peek behind the farm gate brought thousands of visitors into the East Anglian countryside to enjoy the agricultural industry’s annual open day.
Families were welcomed into fields, farmyards and cattle sheds for Open Farm Sunday, which aims to foster a better public understanding of how food finds its way onto supermarket shelves and the nation’s dinner plates.
Businesses taking part ranged from the large and historic estate at Holkham to small family businesses – offering a varied mix of experiences including tractor tours, discussions on crop science and careers, and the chance for children to meet farm livestock or hold turkey chicks.
At Coston Hall Farm near Dereham, there were demonstrations showing how the dairy’s 300 vows are milked – but the farm had also drafted in other expertise, with grain traders explaining how wheat and barley are turned into breakfast cereals and beer, Wymondham shepherd David Cross giving a shearing display, a local science teacher doing experiments with children and a display of farm machinery.
Lizzie Gill from the farm said the event attracted around 2,000 visitors. She said: “We want people to see what we do and hopefully get the public to connect with farming and connect with what we do, which we hope will make them value British produce and what farmers do for the countryside.
“We tried to mix farming with education and learning – but we wanted everyone to have fun too. We want people to think of their local farm as part of the community.”
Visitors included Nigel and Karen Canham, from Halesworth, with their sons Charlie, 12, and Lewis, nine.
Mr Canham, who used to work on an arable farm before becoming a lorry driver, said: “It all helps them understand how the world works. They have got to know where their food comes from, how it ends up in your house, and how much effort goes into it.”
READ MORE: Ten farming facts you could learn on Open Farm Sunday
A few miles away a steady stream of visitors arrived at Rookery Farm in Thuxton, the home of Peele’s Norfolk Black Turkeys, where the displays included rare breed poultry, turkey chicks, and farm machinery including a 1942 John Deere tractor parked alongside its hi-tech modern equivalent, built 75 years later.
Farm owner James Graham said: “I think everybody is so used to going to a supermarket and seeing everything packaged that they don’t relate to it being an animal, or a bird in my case. Looking at what we have here, the penny drops.”
Open Farm Sunday is a national initiative co-ordinated by Leaf (Linking Environment And Farming).