South Devon AONB Unit helped organise an 'Open Farm Sunday' event at the 300 acre Bearscombe Farm near Kingsbridge which attracted over 70 guests of all ages. It was hosted by the Kerswell family and was part of the LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) campaign. 365 farms were open nationwide. Its aim is to explain how food is grown and what farmers do to care for the countryside. The event doubled up as a community event for 'Liivng off the Land' our 'All Our Stories' HLF funded project examining how farming life has changed over the past 100 years.
Visitors were able to get up close to the sheep and cattle and there was a sheep shearing demonstration by neighbouring farmer John Warne. Host Harry Kerswell mounted displays of grain with breakfast cereals and other products, and talked about the enterprises on the farm and his conservation work as part of the Higher Level Stewardship scheme.
The farm is a haven for Greater Horseshoe bats, Cirl Buntings and Dung beetles in particular. The streams and pond on the farm are especially important for wildlife. The farm walk took in spectacular views of the estuary and included a discussion about the arable crops grown and how the weeds are controlled.
There were a range of activities for children to join with ranging from leaf crown making and splat the rat, to a scavenger hunt and pop corn making in conjunction with ‘wild wood’. Following the walk homemade cakes and teas were served on the lawn and everyone enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. £75 was raised from donations for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.
Harry Kerswell commented “We had perfect weather to open the farm and explain how we manage things in an environmentally sensitive way in the South Devon AONB. People of all ages were enthusiastic to know we manage things for wildlife as well as food production. The ‘Open Farm Sunday’ initiative is a great way of getting more people to understand where their food comes and to enjoy the countryside.”