Each year we take part in Open Farm Sunday, where farms around the UK open their gates, without an entry charge, to show people what happens on their farm. Some years we help neighbouring farmers and some years we host. This year it was our turn to host, so last week the yard was swept and tidied, risk assessments carried out, barrier tape strung up and hand washing facilities installed (a trough under an outside tap) as neighbours brought in extra farm machinery, a demonstration beehive and hand operated flour mills.
Yesterday morning, the sun shone as our team of helpers arrived, followed by over five hundred visitors who took guided walks around the fields with farmers, foragers, agronomists and wildlife experts and took part in a national survey of pollinating insects en route. In the yard, children stood in awe of the combine or beeped the horn on the telescopic handler (until someone disconnected the battery), while in The Barley Barn, they milled wheat into flour to make individual soda breads or covered themselves in paint as they made prints.
It was an exhausting day and we couldn’t have done it without our neighbouring farmers, the wildlife and agricultural experts and the ladies from The J’s Hospice (suppliers of excellent tea and cake) all of whom gave up their day to help. But was it worth it? Financially, no but a resounding yes when a child’s face lights up at the sight of a pig or an older child makes the connection between what grows in the field and the food on their plate. Perhaps most of all, it makes us farmers realise how lucky we are and that the things we take for granted are amazing to others.
Plans have already been discussed for next year’s event. Keep 7th June 2015 free.