Minister to visit local farm

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MINISTER of State for Agriculture and Food, Jim Paice, will be visiting Coldham Estate near Wisbech, on Open Farm Sunday, as they celebrate 100 years of farming.

The Co-operative farm is joining 350 farms opening across the country for Open Farm Sunday tomorrow 9June 17).

Coldham Estate is also taking part in the first ever National Farm Pollinator Survey on Open Farm Sunday.

This is a fantastic chance for everyone to get involved and find out more about why insects like bees, wasps, flies and butterflies are so vital to our food - and why they are worth over £510 million to the UK economy, from a leading scientist – and Jim Paice is adding his support.

Aside from the Pollinator Survey there is a lot for visitors to see and do and a wide variety of filming opportunities including: Farm Tours; The Co-operative’s Habitat Heroes; Chance to meet the Beekeepers; Find out all about the Wildlife Trust’s Garden Watch programme; As well as a vintage machinery display- perfect for father’s day.

The Pollinator Survey itself – which is being led by Pollinator Scientists who will be helping members of the public record insects as they land on crops on the farm

The farm is open 11am to 3pm, with the minister visiting between 11.30am and 12.30pm.

Mr Paice will join visitors as they hear about The Co-operative’s ‘Habitat Heroes’ project and find out how the farm, which is a member of LEAF and produces LEAF Marque certified produce, cares for the countryside and all the wildlife that lives there.

Caroline Drummond, Chief Executive of LEAF, organisers of Open Farm Sunday, explained more about the event: “On Open Farm Sunday (17th June), hundreds of farms around the country including Coldham Estate are opening their gates to the public. The day offers not only a great day out for the whole family but a chance to discover more about the story behind our food. Coldham Estate is also one of a selected number of farms that is taking part in the first ever National Farm Pollinator Survey. This is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and to work with scientists to record insect pollinators that are vital to our food and farms.”

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice added: “Asking visitors to take part in a pollinator survey while at Open Farm Sunday highlights the vital role which insects like bees and butterflies play in food production and contribute to the economy and the environment. I hope this initiative will provide valuable information about the diversity of insects in farm habitats.”

Dr Helen Roy, a scientist from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, who is working with LEAF on the Pollinator Survey, will be on hand on the day to help with the Survey – and to talk to visitors in more detail about the fascinating world of insect recording.

Tom Paybody, The Co-operative Farms’ Manager at Coldham, said: “This is the first time that the Coldham Estate has opened its gates for Open Farm Sunday and we are really looking forward to welcoming visitors from the local community. As part of our centenary celebrations we are offering a free shuttle bus service for visitors which will run from The Co-operative’s Food stores in March, Chatteris and Wisbech. We have lots of exciting activities planned so do come and join us and help us celebrate our 100th birthday.”