Farmers throw open doors to shine light on their work

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SUNSHINE broke out just in time to make Open Farm Sunday a success in most of the country last weekend.

Organisers LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) estimated 335 farms, from Aberdeenshire to Devon, had pulled 150,000 visitors for the seventh event in the series.

Many visitors took part in a national survey of pollinating insects and results from that will be announced soon.

Next year’s Open Farm Sunday will be June 9, 2013.

Robert Rook, at Weighton Wold Farm, Market Weighton, said: “We had just under 300 people and the feedback we got was that many came away learning at least something new about how their food is produced.

“The tractor and trailer rides and the equipment that the children could climb on were the big hitters of the day and a popular attraction was how the combine and the sprayer works. But people also learnt about the environmental restrictions placed on farmers and how we import genetics from the USA through embryos and there was a lot of interest in the range of goods we had on show which are made from our products – everything from crisps to beer.”

Mark Rooke, at Beadlam Grange, Pockley, near Helmsley, said: “This is our third year and we have had an increase every year, to 450-500 this time.

“There was a lot of interest in our energy crop for Drax and in our explanation of types of wheat – that one for chicken feed, that one for flour, that one for biscuits.

“We also had a lot of interest in a Roman villa discovered on our land in 1965, which the public don’t normally get to see, because of access problems. You can still see the shape of the underfloor heating.”

Tamara Hall, Yorkshire & Humberside organiser of the event, ran her own open day at Molesworth Grange Farm, Beverley, at the end of a week of open days for schools, totting up to about 1,500 visitors altogether. She said: “We had a new pea viner on show and found a lot of people did not realise peas are still processed in Hull.

“Some farmers do not take part because they feel they haven’t got enough to show but what people want to see is what you do every day. And you can collaborate with farmers who have difficulty having visitors, for one reason and another. We brought in a beef farmer and some pig farmers with some of their stock.”