The Whitaker family at Wood End Farm on the Whitewell Estate in Lancashire hosted a highly successful Open Day last month under the LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) banner. Some 500 people attended over the course of the day, viewing the displays at the farm and taking part in a series of tours, walks and talks on environmental issues and sustainable farming practices.
In addition to the farm machinery on display, there were a dozen craft stalls featuring local arts and crafts and visitors enjoyed demonstrations of sheep shearing, sheepdog training and dry-stone walling. Neighbouring Duchy tenant and organic farmer John Alpe gave a talk on agri-environment schemes and reducing the carbon footprint of a farm, while local soil advisor James Bretherton ran a Soil School to highlight the importance of sustainable soil management. Visitors also had an opportunity to ‘meet and greet’ the Farm’s newest addition, a herd of 12 alpacas.
There was also plenty for the younger visitor to enjoy. Pupils from Thorneyholme Primary School had made and hidden groups of animals to create an Animal Number Hunt, the local forest school demonstrated the pleasures of learning in and about the great outdoors and there was even a demonstration of woodcarving.
Wood End Farm is a 1,400 traditional upland hill farm which has been farmed since 1906 by four generations of the Whitaker family. Sheep and cattle remain at the heart of the business which has diversified in recent years to include a bed & breakfast offering and latterly a new Alpaca Experience. The Whitakers have been intentionally farming in accordance with environmentally sensitive practises for many years, and are the stewards of a variety of important habitats and flora and fauna across the holding.
Commenting on the day, hosts Janet and Andrew said: “It was lovely to be able to show life on the farm to so many visitors, friends and neighbours. We asked people to pre-book for a specific time so that we could maintain appropriate social distancing and we were delighted with the turn-out. Farming has been in our family for over a hundred years and we were very proud to host an Open Farm Sunday and invite visitors into our world. We hope that we have given them a taste of what it is like to be an upland hill farmer in Lancashire in the 21st century and inspired them to take care of the land so that it, in turn, can look after us all.”
Duchy Head of Rural Carol Hawkey congratulated the Whitaker family on opening up their home and their business to such a large number of people to showcase the importance of sustainability in farming: “We are always delighted to support forward-thinking farming tenants with events which help to spread the word about protecting and preserving the natural environment. This event was extremely well organised and supported by the local community and gave everyone an opportunity to share ideas and best practice. Many congratulations to everyone involved in organising and hosting the Open day – and we look forward to the next one!”