More than 400 farms opened their gates on June 10 as part of Open Farm Sunday. Organisers LEAF reckon that more than 150,000 members of the public turned out to enjoy a vast range of activities on farms across the nation. And, best of all, the rain held off and the sun shone.
For host farms it was the culmination of weeks of preparation, marking out farm trails, tidying up farmyards, putting up signs, dreaming up imaginative games for children, readying vast barbecues, washing down tractors and preparing to field the odd challenging question.
Here is a small selection of some of the farms who took part. If you held an open day and want it to appear on FWi, just email a couple of pictures (high-res if possible, please) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than 2200 people came to Ian Pigott’s Annables Farm, Harpenden, Hertfordshire. He had already enlisted the help of 20 other farmers and young farmers. People travelled from as far away as south
Barry Marham, Windmill Farm, Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbott, Devon organised trailer rides to visit the pigs, see the cattle, witness grass being cut for silage and watch a baler and bale wrapper working. There was also a demo of long reining with Dales pony, sheep shearing, cob making, spinning wool and a variety of stalls and activities.
David Christensen, a dairy farmer near Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire organised three farm walks during the course of the day and 110 people attended. There were lots of good questions, discussions and positive feedback, he commented. What particularly fascinated the children, though, was a freshly-laid cow pat!
As well as a chance to see the cows, visitors were fascinated by the two robotic milkers at Mick Forshaw’s Little Town Farm, Longridge,
More than 125 visitors (aged from 18 months to 80) came to Tony Cooke’s farm at Hootten Pagnell,
Russell Smith Farms at Duxford, Cambs put on a variety of activities and exhibits. There was some big machinery to view, a field-to-shelf demo, an environment walk and a chance to see scarecrow-making.
At Stock House Farm, Wellington, Hereford, David Makin wasn’t able to open on the Sunday but made up for it by showing classes 5 and 6 from Wellington Primary School around the farm the day after. They were shown barley, wheat, potaoes, maize and oats, plus chickens sheep and goats. The Buy British message was strongly stressed.
There was a chance to drive a tractor at the open day at Thomas Alleynes’s High School, UIttoxeter, Staffs
More than 950 people came to an open day at Whirlow Hall Farm near Sheffield. It was a great day with shearing demonstrations, a sheep breed gallery, tours of the pig and poultry units, a stockjudging and a silage-making display. Tractor and trailer rides were very popular, with queues forming from 10am onwards. The Whirlow Hall Farm Trust has provided children in the South Yorkshire area with farming and environmental education since 1979.
Saltby Estate in Leicestershire reports that it had an excellent open day on Sunday with more than 400 visitors. The 2700-acre estate has a big dairy herd that produces 4 million litres of milk a year for stilton cheese-making.
Lakeside Farm in Glamorgan got its first phone call at 7.40am from a lady who had heard about Open Farm Sunday on Radio 4. This hill sheep farm started off with a farm tour at 11.20am that took in a shearing demo, then there was a nature trail in the cool of the trees, then it was back to the farm. They reckon they did six or seven of these, finishing at 4pm. Local cheese, butter, fudge, pork and beef were on display and a man from the RSPB came with a list of the birds he has found on the farm. They’re already planning next year’s event.
Visitors flocked to Cokesyeld Farm, Almeley, Herefordshire, a 65-acre grassland farm which is a Herefordshire County Council smallholding and home to tenants Giles and Mary McQuiston who have suckler cow and sheep enterprises. Visitors took in the Beulah Speckled and Welsh Mule sheep, as well as hedgelaying, plus the organic icecream business on neighbouring New House Farm.
At Hall Farm, Brentingby near Melton Mowbray, Leics, Ian and Julia Hawley hosted three farm walks with help from Richard Winspear from the RSPB. They reckon about 120 people came – brilliant!
120 visitors came for a farm walk at Huw Rowlands’ The Grange, Mickle Trafford near Chester, which breeds traditional Red Poll cattle. Ages ranged from 3 to 83
A good turnout at Meadowsweet Farm, Banbuty, Oxfordshire.
Visitors see a fleece up close at White House Farm, Stokeferry, Kings Lynn, Norfolk.
Thurlby Grange Farm, Bourne Lincs had more than 4000 visitors!
Roseanna Thompson sent this picture from the open day on the family livestock farm
at Isleham, Cambridgeshire. They have a 300-head sow unit, single suckler Hereford herd and 100 acres of grass. Shadow minister of agriculture James Paice MP was one of the visitors.
Jake Freestone, Overbury Farms, Gloucestershire ran a series of trailer rides for a total of 230 people. He was delighted with the response and the degree of interst in farming from the visitors.
William Cumber at Manor Farm, Marcham, Abingdon, Oxfordshire had 6-700 people to their open day. Attractions in the farmyard included farm machinery, sheep shearing, a display about Send A Cow to Africa, plus there were trailer rides to the outdoor pigs and (separately) to the dairy unit. Cups of tea and pieces of cake at 50p each raised £120 for RABI.
Phil and Heather Gorringe at Blakemere Farm, Herefordshire had 91 visitors, which was perfect because they fitted neatly on to three tractor and trailer rides. Amazingly, 10 minutes after the gates opened, one of the cows decided it was the perfect time to give birth, so all the visitors were treated to the amazing sight of a calf being born before their very eyes!
This is Layton Farming Partnership, Dolithon Meats, Blaen-y-Cwm, Dolau, Llandrindod Wells, Powys.