Welcome to our farm!
LEAF Open Farm Sunday is farming’s annual open day. Kate Chapman meets the owners of three county farms preparing to open their gates for this year’s event.
Farming’s annual open day on Sunday 11th June gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about farming and the countryside and farms the chance to talk about why they’re so proud of British food and farming.
Croft Farm, near Stamford
The Genever family is opening the gates to Croft Farm, near Stamford, for its first Open Farm Sunday event this year.
Paul and Yvonne run the mixed operation with daughters Kate, Susan and Liz. They own 250 acres of land and rent in another 250, growing wheat, barley, oilseed rape and peas on two-thirds of what they own.
They keep 250 Mule ewes, which lambed at the end of March, and are all taken through to finishing. There’s also a herd of 45 suckler cows, mainly Aberdeen Angus and Hereford crosses, and they put five bullocks through their meat box scheme each year.
Liz explains: “We’re third-generation farmers – my grandfather started the farm. He was a farmworker and was given some land as a wedding present and then offered some more very cheap. Then my dad and my uncle ran things together before splitting it, as there were six cousins in the next generation.
“As well as the sheep and cows, we also buy in about ten weaner pigs each year and take them through into the box scheme. We don’t have a farm shop – we sell our boxes to people locally or through social media.”
The family has previously held walks on the farm and has been contemplating opening to the public for a while. Visitors will be able to go behind the scenes and see what the family is doing to enhance the environment, as well as learning about the animals they rear and the crops they produce. They will also be selling their own beef and lamb burgers.
Liz adds: “Our yard is in the middle of the village, so people are always passing by and can often see what’s going on, so we assumed they had a good understanding of what we’re doing. But having spoken to some when they come onto the farm that’s not always the case, so it will be a good opportunity for us to explain better and for people to ask questions.
“As it’s the first time we’ve done this, visitors will need to register for a ticket, but they’re free – it’s just to help us gauge how many people to expect.”
For more information and to get tickets, visit farmsunday.org/visit-a-farm or follow them on Instagram at @3_daughters_croft_farm or by searching Croft Farm Uffington on Facebook.
Naylor Flowers, near Spalding
Naylor Flowers is marking its 75th anniversary by arranging a special vintage tractor run to coincide with its Open Farm Sunday event.
The family-run farm, in Moulton Seas End, near Spalding, was launched in 1948 by Kenneth Naylor after he bought his first four acres of land. The business has gone from strength to strength, and today is headed up by his grandson Matt Naylor and his cousin Chris Edgeley.
They grow a variety of British cut flowers including daffodils, sunflowers, sweet Williams and delphiniums on 600 acres of silt land around The Wash and produce more than 100 million stems annually, which are supplied to supermarkets in the UK and Europe.
“We’re still in the early stages of planning our open event, although we have taken part in Open Farm Sunday in the past, when we were delighted – and overwhelmed – to receive around 1,600 visitors,” said Matt.
“It’s a great opportunity for farmers to show people what they’re doing. Sadly, there are lots of people who don’t care where their food comes from, meaning there’s a real necessity for growers to show them what they’re getting when they spend their money on British produce.
“It’s all about being open and transparent. It’s important in modern business to show people that yes, there are cheaper items available, but these have environmental costs.”
To mark the farm’s milestone anniversary, it’s planning a special tractor run featuring a vehicle from each year since 1948, with the event forming the centrepiece of its open day.
Other activities on 11th June include tractor and trailer rides and flower arranging workshops. Refreshments will also be available.
“We wanted to mark the occasion by putting on a tractor run with a difference, by having a vehicle made in every year since 1948,” added Matt. “We’ve had a good response so far – we just want to make it a celebration of farming families and people who work in the industry. The vehicles will also be on show to our visitors afterwards.”
For more information about the event follow Naylor Flowers on Facebook.
Hall Farm, near Market Rasen
Tractor and trailer rides, self-guided walks and livestock demonstrations are among the entertainment awaiting visitors to Hall Farm, near Market Rasen, this Open Farm Sunday.
The mixed farm, part of Sutton Estates, has taken part in the LEAF event before and last year welcomed around 3,000 people for a fun-filled family day out.
Assistant farm manager, Matthew Addison is hoping this year’s event will be as successful and said there will also be industry experts on hand to answer questions and stalls hosted by Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service, Lincolnshire beekeepers and other industry merchants. Refreshments will be provided by Market Rasen Rotary Club and Tealby Primary School.
“We’ll have some of our machinery on display and myself, farms director Chris Baylis and other industry experts will be on hand to answer questions. Our stockman will give shearing demonstrations throughout the day and there’ll be some of our cattle on display to look at and learn about,” Matthew added. “Markers will be placed along the self-guided walks so people can learn about what they’re seeing and we’ll have a marquee up showing what we do on the estate. There will also be an opportunity for children and adults to take part in pond dipping, with experts on hand to explain what they’re doing.”
The Lincolnshire estate covers 3,600ha, with combinable crops and pulses grown on 2,600ha. These include winter wheat, winter and spring barely, winter oilseed rape, spring beans and vining peas.
The estate keeps a 120-strong beef suckler herd of Lincoln Reds crossed with an Aberdeen Angus, which are supplied to Waitrose, and a flying flock of 1,400 north country mules, which are kept for 12 months and then sold for breeding.
The Lincolnshire estate is owned by the Sutton family, part of which dates back to the 16th century. It employs 12 people and undertakes a variety of environmental schemes such as countryside stewardship.
Matthew added: “Open Farm Sunday is a great event. We do our best to cater for everyone and make it a nice day out for all the family. It’s a free event but there is the opportunity to purchase food and items from local producers.”
For more information visit the website at www.farmsunday.org
Photographs: Hannah Bradshaw/Naylor Flowers