Farm Walk – MHS Park Farm, Thorney


Society Farm Walk

29th May 2019 – 6pm

Pouring rain did nothing to dissuade guests at the Society Farm Walk on Wednesday 29th June. Park Farm is the operational hub of three farming businesses situated just outside of Thorney, near Peterborough.

The tour started with hot drinks and a warm welcome from farm owner Michael Sly in his impressive barn visitor centre, plus 3 short videos: NFU Farming in Fens, Open Farm Sunday, and Park Farm in Numbers, a very effective video which detailed in simple, easy to understand terms how much the farm produces (over 13 million loaves of bread, 6.6 million jars of Colman’s mustard, and 8 million pints of beer just for starters) as well as their environmental projects (53.5 hectares of environmentally designated land, 10 hectares of woodland and 76 tonnes of nectar for pollinators). Much of the farm is under Higher or Entry Level Stewardship.

Farm Safari

Guests bundled into the trailer for a tour around the 1600-hectare farm with an idea of the farm’s productivity fresh in their minds, viewing crops of wheat, peas, barley, oilseed rape, potatoes, mustard and sugar beet. Along the way there were ample opportunities for guests to ask questions and learn more about drilling techniques, cover cropping, and blackgrass control techniques. Additionally, Michael and his farm managers showed the tour one of the satellite yards dotted across the estate, featuring a grain store with specialised drying facilities, as well as some of the renovated residential rental properties nestled in amongst the farmland.

Park Farm and the Environment

The tour stopped at the edge of the farm to look at RSPB Nene Washes from the vantage point of a flood bank, with an informative talk from Charlie Kitchin from the RSPB on the successes of breeding cranes, rare black-tailed godwits, corncrakes, waders, egrets, herons, swans and ducks. These birds spend most of their time on the marshy wetland, but also enjoy browsing on farmland and will move into Park Farm’s fields to do so. In particular, it was a delight to see a male black-tailed godwit take flight from one of the fields as the tractor passed by – one of only 60 breeding pairs in the UK, and testament to the good work done here to conserve the species. Other visible wildlife included plenty of running hares and farmland birds including skylarks, lapwings (a lapwing chick was another highlight), partridges and corn buntings.

The tour was ended perfectly with a tasty barbecue back at the visitor centre (indoors thanks to the rain!) featuring meats from nearby Moor Farm. A huge thank you to Michael Sly and his team for such a fascinating, informative and enjoyable evening.

Photographs © Tim Scrivener 07850 303986