Surrey Farm and Food Week 2010 (19 – 26 Sept)

Black-faced-Suffolk-sheep-4Surrey Farm and Food Week, September 19-26, is an established feature of the farming calendar. This is the ninth year that Surrey County Agricultural Society has run the week of farm-based events that aims to bridge the gulf of understanding between farmers and the public.

The society launched the initiative in 2001 to encourage farmers to open up their farms and get to know their neighbours and customers, and the public to come and meet them and find out about the food they produce and the way the countryside is managed for a range of purposes.

Surrey’s landscape was created by farming over thousands of years and that it is the current generation of farmers who keep the countryside productive, rich in wildlife and beautiful to the eye.

A wonderful array of farm produce is grown in Surrey, from beef, lamb and pork to fresh milled flour, eggs, vegetables, soft fruit and dairy produce. The theme of this year’s Surrey Farm and Food Week is the journey from field to plate. There has been a clear shift over the last eight years towards farm gate sales, farmers markets, meat box schemes and farm shops and this is reflected in the number of farms in the week’s events offering the complete field to plate experience – farm walks followed by home-produce BBQs, produce for sale and general refreshments.

The walks and open days are – weather permitting – incredibly popular. For example last year, John Gray and his family opened up their Ayrshire dairy farm at Polesden Lacey and had around 250 visitors. They were delighted and are running the event again on September 19. The farmers go to a lot of trouble, organising displays, trailer tours, craft demonstrations and refreshments, often making a day of it.

Farm shops and a growing number of pubs are committed to the field to plate concept. Many are either growing or sourcing their produce and menus locally.

Farmers Market are another excellent way of meeting and buying direct from the producer. Markets are held regularly at Byfleet, Cobham, Cranleigh, Dorking, Epsom, Farnham, Guildford, Haslemere, Milford, Redhill, Reigate, Ripley, Wallington and Woking. For more information click here.

Around 1,000 people enjoy the farm events over the week, not counting the many thousands who come to the County Ploughing Match and Country Fair at Loseley that marks its grand finale, this year on September 27.

The walks and open days are all free and the farmers generously give their time to run them: There is so much good-will involved, and both farmers and public reap the benefits.

On the show day are £8.50 for adults, £7.00 for concessions and £5.00 for children (5 – 16 years).
Under fives are free and there is free parking.
A family ticket is available (2 adults, 2 children) £25.

Discounted advance tickets are available from the Surrey County Agricultural Society office, 8 Birtley Courtyard, Bramley, GU5 0LA, telephone no: 01483 890810 or online (click here) Tickets will be available from July.