On Sunday 7 June 2009, from 1pm to 5pm, Blakehill Farm nature reserve near Cricklade will be opening its gates to the public for Open Farm Sunday 2009.
It will be a free family event for all to enjoy and a unique opportunity to see a working beef and sheep farm and nature reserve run by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
“We are a commercial farm, but everything we do is in harmony with the environment and the wildlife it supports,” says the Trust’s Northern Grasslands Livestock Manager Paul Hill.
Come and wang your wellies for prizes, meet the animals, watch sheepdog demonstrations and sheep shearing, see what a tractor is really like inside or take a tractor and trailer ride around the historical Second World War airfield, admire rare breed livestock, take a wildlife walk and go pond dipping. And when you’ve done all that you can enjoy the BBQ and feast on some of the tastiest burgers and sausages you’ll ever come across made from the Trust’s very own cattle.
“This day is all about showing people the story behind our food and how the farm is managed to bring wild flowers and animals back to the Wiltshire countryside,” says Paul.
“It’s difficult for people to get out on to a farm ordinarily to ask questions about how food is made, so this is your chance to come and talk to us. It will give you the opportunity to connect with your food and the landscape around you, and to see and hear for yourself the wildlife that is found on our farm,” he says.
“You will be able to see first hand how we cut the hay and harvest and sow wildflower seed, and learn how we use our traditional and rare breed cattle and sheep to graze the reserve. This helps wildflowers to thrive and keeps at bay the tough invasive plants that would swamp them,” says Paul. “In the same way, Blakehill Farm supports our work on our northern reserves.”
Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day organised by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), a national charity that helps farmers produce good quality food with care for the environment. It promotes Integrated Farm Management (IFM) which combines the best of traditional farming methods with modern technology.
Blakehill Farm nature reserve was accredited as a LEAF demonstration farm in 2006 for its efforts to provide a working example of how it is possible to produce top quality, affordable beef in harmony with the environment.
On last year’s Open Farm Sunday, 400 farms around the country invited 150,000 visitors to come along and find out what farmers do, why farms matter and to get in touch with the land that feeds us.
Blakehill Farm is signposted off the B4040 Malmesbury to Cricklade road. Travelling towards Cricklade, go through Minety and on towards the village of Leigh. The entrance to Blakehill Farm is on the right within Leigh, signposted from the B4040 by a brown tourist sign. Grid ref: SU 073 923.