Crowds flock to Open Farm Sunday

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Three farms from the region were among hundreds across the country to open their gates for Open Farm Sunday.

Wissington-based Cornerways Nursery, Wisbech Contract Farming, at West Walton, and Holkham estate opened took part to help visitors learn more about life on a working farm.

More than 500 people attended the event at Cornerways Nursery on 7 June, which is situated next to the Wissington British Sugar factory, near Downham.

Visitors were given a guided tour of the operation so they could learn more about how Cornerways tomatoes are grown and see their sustainable processes in action.

The West Norfolk public got the chance to taste test both the current varieties and those on trial.

Andrew MacKay, sales manager at Cornerways, said: “The weather was great and the turnout was fantastic.

Cornerways Nursery Open Farm at Wissington on Sunday. Rory Fyfe (5) tucks in to a tomato while his sister Hazel (2) prefers her lolly. ANL-150706-205437009

Cornerways Nursery Open Farm at Wissington on Sunday. Rory Fyfe (5) tucks in to a tomato while his sister Hazel (2) prefers her lolly. ANL-150706-205437009

“The feedback from our visitors and the enthusiasm for learning more about our tomatoes was very positive.”

“We saw a big increase in the number of visitors, attending the event, compared to last year and I think this is because more and more people are taking an active interest in learning about where their food comes from.”

The machinery on display at Holkham’s fifth event emphasised how much agriculture has changed in recent years.

Beside a towering 560 horse power tractor were implements that could plough ten furrows and a seed drill that could sow 27 rows in one pass.

Visitors flocked to Holkham to see how Britain produces the food that fills the nations table today.

Holkham plays its part with the principal crops being winter barley and wheat, spring barley, oil seed rape, sugar beet and potatoes.

“The seven hundred hectares not under the plough are part of a higher level entry scheme which encourages us to take land out of production to encourage wildlife - birds, bees and insects,” said crop production manager, Oliver Scott.

Wisbech Contract Farming, who are specialised fruit farmers, put their emphasis on bees.

Open Farm Sunday 'Jack Portass ANL-150806-062909009

Open Farm Sunday 'Jack Portass ANL-150806-062909009

John Portass said: “It has been in the news lately that bees are going through a bit of a hard time, but as fruit farmers they are very important to us and it is a project which we have been working on for a couple of years now.

“We sow bee-friendly flowers and have wildfly margins around the orchard, as well as nest boxes and bee hotels.

“It was the first year we have been open to the public and it went very well. The children loved being able to get on a tractor and steer it.

“Last year we did it but it was invite-only. We wanted to keep it low-key so we could learn from it for this year.”