Open Farm Sunday 2013

breadmaking schedule

Open Farm Sunday is a fantastic project that has seen hundreds of farmers across the UK opening their farm for one Sunday each year since 2006. It’s a good opportunity for everyone, young and old, to visit a working farm to discover at first hand what it means to be a farmer and we’ve supported this wonderful event since the start, either by hosting on our farm or helping our neighbours.

Yesterday, we went to Cressing Lodge Farm to help Nick and Bridie Cousins and while Bill fielded questions about different crops, I was on bread making duties with our farming neighbour James. The idea is that children mill wheat in a large handmill and we bake bread with the resulting flour. However, once children start turning the handle on the mill, they can get a bit obsessed and at times there was rather a surplus of flour, especially as our dough took ages to prove in our cold “kitchen” in an open shed. Luckily, in true Blue Peter style, James and I had both taken some pre-prepared dough so at least we were able to get baking reasonably early.

sourdough, black, wholemeal, green bread

We produced black bread (basically wholemeal with treacle), sourdough, wholemeal, huffers, scones, dough cake and green soda bread. Surprisingly, taste tests by visitors of all ages decreed the green bread made using nettles, garlic mustard and cheese to be the most popular and it certainly drew the largest crowd of spectators when they heard we were cooking with stinging nettles.

farm machinery displayofs refreshments

There’s often some debate about what “attractions” to provide on Open Farm Sunday. There was a Treasure Trail for children, machinery on display, trailer rides through the fields with an agronomist and refreshments on offer. Of course children want to see animals and here in Essex where arable farming dominates, farm animals are in short supply. So, should the arable farmer bring in livestock for Open Farm Sunday or should we say that we don’t have animals, so there are none. I suppose we have to decide if we are telling the story of British farming or simply of our farm.

Next year it will be our turn to host Open Farm Sunday again and we’re already writing down ideas for what to do. Any suggestions?

12 thoughts on “Open Farm Sunday 2013

  1. Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    This sounds a very enjoyable event for all concerned. Love your breadmaking range. I followed your idea for green bread with herbs etc in – very delicious indeed. Got a bee in my bonnet about Jack In The Hedge which you’d mentioned and when I asked my mother about what it looked like she said it grows everywhere. Everywhere apart from here it seemed! Scoured the highways and byways, lanes and hedgerows to no avail until I found a great clump growing in my own back garden at which point I felt rather foolish! But it’s made very good bread! What about doing something with your duck population next year? Beautiful turquoise duck eggs and fluffy yellow ducklings would be a visitor-magnet and an authentic part of Great Slamseys – no fake imports required! Also might solve your egg glut problem if that recurs next year! Sell off the surplus! Just a thought anyway! E x

    Like

    • Anne @GtSlamseysFarm says:

      Glad you found your garlic mustard! Do you think my ducks would oblige and hatch off a cute brood just in time? One year, two of my hens obliged and we had week old chicks and slightly older guinea chicks. The next year the ducklings hatched at the end of May and a crow picked them off one by one until there was only one left for Open Farm Sunday. Good idea for the eggs too – they’d make a good display.

      Like

  2. Jane @ Shady Baker says:

    This is really interesting Anne and a great way to show city people what ‘real’ farming is like. I bet the bread was well received by the hungry visitors! I might send you an email at some stage…I am thinking about having a community bread making day at our place and I am interested to see how you run your bread making sessions.

    Like

  3. Jane says:

    Looks like such a lovely day and the green bread (all of them actually) look delicious. I can understand about kids wanting to see animals but so long as they are catered for with other things like the grain grinding, I think it would be better to make it a proper educational experience about what really happens on your farm. Kids really remember things like that and love to understand what goes on. Of course a few ducks, chickens, cats, dogs, whatever animals you genuinely have would add to the charm 🙂

    Like

    • Anne @GtSlamseysFarm says:

      I agree Jane and though children like to see farm animals, they’re quite likely to remember the fact that a spider was crawling up the wall and into a little hole rather than the cow in front of it.

      Like

  4. Brackendale says:

    Nice to see someone else spent the day like I did. I will be blogging too on the two farms i managed to visit in Cheshire and helped to support them with some photography. OFS is a brilliant idea and more farms need to take it up.

    Like

  5. sophiezest says:

    Looks like a great day and the bread looks fantastic! My children are interested in how things work – my 5-year-old especially would have loved the grain grinding. If you had a water mill that would be even better! 😉 How about a scarecrow making competition as an activity?

    Like

    • Anne @GtSlamseysFarm says:

      Not sure we have time to divert the river and set up a water mill! A scarecrow making competition would be good or maybe just scarecrow making without anyone having to judge which is best. Thanks for the idea.

      Like

  6. Mel says:

    This is such a wonderful idea!

    No need to source animals for your event next year. My Kids would equally be thrilled with tractor rides or seeing how any of your machinery worked. Treasure hunts in a haystack or in the trees or you could do a bread-making/baking demonstration….the little country fairs they have down here sometimes have a face painter, totally unrelated to farming, but is always a winner 🙂

    Like

Comments are closed.