Sunflower Smiles in Cheshire

An enterprising farming family marked the 100th anniversary of their tenancy at Park Farm on the Crewe Estate in Cheshire last month by creating a sunflower and pollinator trail which they then opened to visitors.

The spectacular one-kilometre trail included over 150,000 sunflowers and the family also provided spaces for ‘hay bale picnics’ and a ‘creation station’ for children where they could indulge in crafts, colouring and creative pursuits. Visitors were permitted to pick their own sunflowers along the route and invited to make a contribution to local charities.

The Lewis family have a long history of fund-raising for local good causes and this initiative was no exception, raising £7,252 which was split equally between donations to the Leighton Hospital Neonatal Care Unit and Friends of Haslington School.

Commenting on the day, organiser Alex Lewis said: “Both of our children spent time at Leighton Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as babies. Our daughter was born at 29 weeks and weighed just over 2lb, so we have absolutely everything to thank them for and support them whenever we can. Our second charity was Friends of Haslington School which is an organisation that raises money to support our local village school which has now been attended by four generations of the Lewis family.”

Duchy Head of Rural Carol Hawkey congratulated the family on their fund-raising efforts and their creative approach to marking the centenary of their tenancy of Park Farm: “What an appropriate and fulfilling way of marking 100 years of farming at Park Farm,” she said. “It is especially apt at a time when we are all considering ways in which we can farm more sustainably in order to protect the natural environment for the next 100 years! One vital consideration in this endeavour is what we can do to encourage wild pollinators and preserve and enhance their habitats. I do hope that the Lewis family will make this a regular event and look forward to visiting myself next time they open the trail up to visitors!”

Alex Lewis also remarked on the pleasure it gave people to visit the trail and walk among these spectacular blooms: “We are obviously thrilled that our sunflower trail proved so popular and raised so much money. But more importantly perhaps, the flowers obviously brought so much joy to our visitors. Everyone left the farm beaming!”

Park Farm is a 94-hectare beef and arable farm on the Duchy of Lancaster’s Crewe Estate in Cheshire. Part of the Cheshire Survey, the Estate extends to 1.516 hectares and includes 11 main farms as well as equestrian businesses, woodland and a rural office development at Crewe Hall Farm.