Learn about varied world of farming

Farm manager David Watson of Newcastle University's Cockle Park Farm which is holding an Open Farm Sunday.
Farm manager David Watson of Newcastle University's Cockle Park Farm which is holding an Open Farm Sunday.

DISCOVER the varied world of farming at Cockle Park on Sunday as it is access all areas.

There are attractions for adults and children at the Newcastle University-run facility, located between Hebron and Tritlington, including demonstrations of its machinery and high-tech equipment and the chance to see a range of wildlife.

It is taking part in Open Farm Sunday – organised by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) – which is also an opportunity for people to find out where much of their fresh food comes from. Entry is free.

Cockle Park’s Farm Manager David Watson said: “The great thing about our farm, from a visitor’s perspective, is the variety on offer. As a mixed farm which covers 262 ha, we really do have something of everything, from our arable crops to cows, sheep and pigs.

“Our main crops are oilseed rape, which can be used to make rapeseed oil, wheat for bread and biscuits, and winter barley which is used as animal feed. We have a 220-strong herd of Holstein-Friesen dairy cows which visitors will have a chance to see being milked and by June our 850 mule ewes will be outside in fields with their new lambs.

“In our pig unit, in which we have 120 sows, we are always looking at new technology and the most efficient, but welfare friendly, ways to raise pigs.

“People may ask why a university has a farm in the first place. We carry out a large amount of agricultural research before it is implemented and put into practice on farms elsewhere, so we provide a vital knowledge source for the industry.

“Part of any farmer’s role is to look after the countryside and we are lucky at Cockle Park Farm to be surrounded by a large amount of woodland. Regular visitors to our farm include grey partridges, barn owls and roe deer.”

The team of seven will receive support on the day from the university’s Agricultural Society, North East Grains Co-operative and Frontier Agriculture, which regularly runs trials, demonstrations and Farmers’ Days at the farm.

The farm will be open between 1pm and 5pm.