Open Farm Sunday brings feelgood fun back to the countryside
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
Farms flung open their gates to crowds of eager visitors for the first time since lockdown as Open Farm Sunday returned.
The popular annual showcase, which was cancelled last year, featured fewer and smaller events this year in line with the extended Covid-19 restrictions.
But many families grasped the chance for a socially-distanced outdoor excursion to take tours, meet farm animals and find out more about the countryside and how their food is produced.
One of the Norfolk events was at Old Hall Farm in Woodton, near Bungay, which introduced children to cattle in the cow-with-calf dairy, along with goats, rare pigs and ponies. It also hosted farm and vineyard tours, a mini food and drink festival outside the farm shop, and displays of modern and vintage machinery.
Visitors were treated to the sight of a Jersey cow nursing her newborn calf, which had arrived just an hour before the event opened.
Among them were Katie and Nick Potts, from the neighbouring village of Hedenham, with their 11-month-old son Finley.
"Throughout lockdown we have been able to come out [to the farm shop] and see the cows, so after having a baby in lockdown it has been quite a good thing to do," said Mrs Potts.
"When we saw on social media that we could come around for a farm walk and see some more of the cows it was really nice. Also it has been lovely for Finley to experience that and to see other families enjoying themselves - it feels a bit more normal, I suppose."
Mr Potts added: "It is nice for him to see other faces. Because he was born in lockdown he is used to seeing people with masks constantly, so it is great for him to see other other children and how people interact."
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Rebecca Mayhew, who runs the farm with her husband Stuart, said the return of the popular event was a welcome release after "frustrating" months of lockdown.
"We could not have an Open Farm Sunday event last year, but to see the fantastic numbers of people here again to learn about food and farming, and actually see what it is all about, it is really heartening," she said.
"It has been a very tumultuous time in the last year and, increasingly, people now are trying to find out what it is to be healthy, and that has to start with food.
"So we have been talking to people about how their crops are grown and how their milk is produced - and actually people are really enthused."