A Suffolk farming family is paying tribute to the nation’s key workers with a specially designed maize maze.
Anthony and Sally Pooley, who run Undley Pumpkin Patch and Maize Maze across 30ha near Mildenhall, have made the creation as part of their diversification business.
It includes tributes to the NHS, the police, refuse-collectors and food retailers, as well as Captain Tom, the famous fundraising centenarian.
“We try to have a topical theme every year – last year was a Brexit maze, for example – but this year it was a no-brainer. We wanted to show appreciation for the NHS and all the other key workers,” said Mrs Pooley.
For every paying customer through the maize, the family is donating 50p to the NHS, along with the £1,000 prize money in an on-site competition.
The venue typically attracts between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors annually, but the Pooleys have introduced an online, pre-booking ticket-based system this year to ensure a steady flow of people. The maze also features wider pathways to facilitate social-distancing.
“Everyone’s just grateful that we’re open,” added Mrs Pooley. “People want somewhere to go and this is outside, it’s a big area and a fun activity for the whole family.”
The maze is run in tandem with a 10ha pumpkin PYO enterprise – both diversifications launched just over 20 years ago on the family farm.
Pumpkins were originally cropped by the Pooleys to target the US community based at two nearby RAF bases, Lakenheath and Mildenhall.
“Halloween’s obviously always been big in the US. It’s just grown and grown since then,” said Mrs Pooley. “Back in those early days, 80% of our customers were American. Now they only account for 20 or 30%.
“This year with the maze, we very much wanted to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of NHS staff and key workers – the trouble is, there are so many key workers, we couldn’t fit everyone in!”
Farmers Weekly is getting behind the #FeedtheNation campaign to back UK farmers working flat out to produce safe, affordable and reliable food to feed the nation this harvest.
With our partners, we are raising public awareness of this campaign by highlighting the actions farmers are taking to get food to consumers.