With the growing interest in locally produced foodstuffs, do you know how the food on your plate is produced? There was an opportunity to find out at Shotford Hall Farm near Harleston on Sunday 10th June, which opened their farm as part of a national event ‘Open Farm Sunday‘. Hosting such an event for the first time, Tim Lewis, Tenant Farmer, had no idea whether to expect 30 or 300 visitors, and in the event had over 500 coming through the gates. Clearly finding the day enjoyable, many visitors stayed for several hours, with much to see: machinery could be climbed on, animals (calves, cows, sheep, chickens, and a bull) could be seen, egg-production was explained, information about crops grown (wheat, barley, sugar beet, maize, vining peas, oil seed rape and grass) was provided. One highlight of the day was the opportunity to watch the milking in progress. Another was the opportunity to take a tractor ride around the farm, which included information on the crops produced, an insight into conservation and farm management practices, and beautiful views across the Waveney Valley.
After all the excitement of all these activities, there was a chance to sit down, relax, and enjoy some home made food, with a hog roast, cream teas and cakes, local ice cream and smoothies available. Visitors gave much positive feedback, describing it as ‘the perfect free day out for the family’. Tim was keen to stress that the day was not a money-making exercise, and that any profits would be given to charity. The purpose of the day was to demonstrate the links between food and farming, the efforts farmers make to work and care for the countryside, and to give visitors a real insight into farming, rather than the myths and half-truths that surround the industry. The event was staffed not only by friends and family of Lewis Partners, but local farmers and businesses who worked together to ensure that a wider variety of exhibits was available. Businesses to which the farm supplies products, including Dairy Crest, Birds Eye, and Silver Spoon, also provided information packs to demonstrate the steps between farm and plate.