Open Farm Sunday brings thousands of visitors into the countryside

Seth Ridley, 6, from King's Lynn, with the goats at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm

Seth Ridley, 6, from King's Lynn, with the goats at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

Thousands of visitors learned about life in the countryside as gates were flung open to the public for Open Farm Sunday.

The annual open day, organised by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), brings families flocking onto farms to see how their food is produced and how farmers manage the environment.

Across East Anglia, events ranged from major vegetable and salad growers and historic arable estates to dairies and traditional mixed farms.

At Castle Farm in Swanton Morley, near Dereham, around 200 visitors took tractor and trailer rides to see crops growing and cattle grazing in the Wensum valley.

Open Farm Sunday 2022 at Castle Farm in Swanton Morley

Open Farm Sunday 2022 at Castle Farm in Swanton Morley - Credit: Chris Hill

Farmer John Carrick said: "I think it is very important that people know where their food comes from.

"Unfortunately, for various reasons, this country's self-sufficiency in food has gone from 80pc to not much over 50pc and we have seen from recent world events how important it is to be self-sufficient.

"My experience is there is a lot of interest from the public in farming, and they are delighted to be out in the countryside." 

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At nearby Gressenhall Farm, there were chances to watch sheep shearing demonstrations by Aylsham-based stockman Jason Shorten, and to get close to farm animals including rare pigs, goats, and Suffolk Punch horses.

Visiting families included Rory Graham and Verity Thorp, with their children Isla, four, and Marcie, two, from Dereham.

Rory Graham and Verity Thorp with their children Isla, 4, and Marcie, 2, at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm

Rory Graham and Verity Thorp with their children Isla, 4, and Marcie, 2, at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Graham, a 34-year-old sales manager, said: "We are seeing the sheep getting sheared and finding out what the wool gets used for. I think it is very important for the girls to know about that - as well as having fun."

Miss Thorp, 33, a teacher at Ashwicken Primary School, added: "It is part of our heritage, and it is a lot of people's livelihoods, so it is really important that the children know about what they eat and wear, and where it comes from."

Remi Stevens, 3, from Norwich, at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm

Remi Stevens, 3, from Norwich, at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

Among the farmers supporting the event were Stefan and Marilyn Keymer from Ten Trees Berkshire Pigs, based in Walpole Highway near King's Lynn. They brought a Berkshire sow and her six piglets, all three weeks old.

"The main thing is to get people close to the animals and make that link between livestock and the plate," said Mr Keymer.

"This is a rare breed - and if we don't eat rare breed pigs, then no-one would have them at all."

Open Farm Sunday 2022 at Castle Farm in Swanton Morley

Open Farm Sunday 2022 at Castle Farm in Swanton Morley - Credit: Chris Hill

Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm

Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm. Picture: Danielle Booden

Three-week-old Berkshire piglets at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

Open Farm Sunday 2022 at Castle Farm in Swanton Morley

Open Farm Sunday 2022 at Castle Farm in Swanton Morley - Credit: Chris Hill

Jennifer Boland, 11, with goats at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm

Jennifer Boland, 11, with goats at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm. Picture: Danielle Booden

Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

Savanna Ridley, 9, from King's Lynn, with the goats at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm

Savanna Ridley, 9, from King's Lynn, with the goats at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

Stockman Jason Shorten shearing a sheep at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm

Stockman Jason Shorten shearing a sheep at Open Farm Sunday at Gressenhall Farm - Credit: Danielle Booden