Here it is: the post I've been itching to write for 6 months... the chance to announce the exciting plans we have for the farm in 2019 and beyond!
Before I begin, a few things to bear in mind:
There’s no doubt whatsoever about the idea that gained most support from our customers: a longer Pick Your Own fruit season. 90% of our survey respondents were in favour of us extending our summer season. That’s as close to a unanimous verdict as we’re ever going to get!
In the last few months, behind the scenes, we’ve set in motion the biggest phase of development seen at Kenyon Hall since the farm shop and café were built in 2011. In order to grow fruit for a longer period over summer, we need to complement our traditional outdoor crops with indoor growing facilities (i.e. polytunnels). And in order to build polytunnels we need a lot of other things to happen: planning permission granted, horticulture manager recruited, bank manager persuaded. And amazingly, as I write this, it's so far so good!
This is such an important development for us at Kenyon Hall I'll write much more about it in the coming weeks. But for now, I hope you’re as excited as we are about the prospect of a reliable, lengthy and relaxed strawberry season coming in the very near future!
In the seven years since our café opened we’ve hosted a handful of evening meals every once in a while. They’ve been a way for diners to enjoy a peaceful evening on the farm after all the day visitors have gone. And a way for us to show-off the top quality local ingredients we’re working with every day in the farm shop.
Join us at the Farmer's Table for Friday evenings of food on the farm. Every month our top chefs will cook up a menu using the best ingredients available from the farm shop. It's a way for us to show-case the very best of the north-west: fresh, local, seasonal food prepared for you to enjoy in a relaxing farm setting.
Why should it be the little ‘uns having all the fun? We're proud to welcome all-comers to the farm - young and old - so we're always to open to suggestions for adult-focused attractions. And we've received a lot of very good suggestions...
Eager to get started, we launched our first Adult Workshops in December 2018 when Kathryn helped festive folks make their own Christmas table centre-pieces. The feedback from these sessions was incredibly positive (relaxed, informative and rewarding) and we intend to run more in 2019. Keep your eyes peeled on our website (and/or sign up for email alerts) and in the meantime I’m offering a prize for anyone who can think of a catchier name than the current working title of ‘Workshops’.
While the idea of a better fruit season received the most positive reaction in our survey, there was only one ‘winner’ in the contest of attracting the most criticism: the Play Area. Nearly a quarter of all comments mentioned our little outdoor park and the vast majority weren’t complimentary!
We intend to keep the new play area in the same location as now and in keeping with the natural look and feel of the farm. It will be built from wood and other natural materials and we’ll use recycled farming equipment wherever possible. We’re having it custom built by a local wood-work expert, so it will be unique to Kenyon Hall Farm and hopefully offer much better outdoor fun for all!
More Junior Farmers
The first ever Junior Farmers sessions took place less than 12 months ago, when we invited children to the farm to plant their own peas and beans. Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength with the most popular sessions attracting nearly 500 children who’ve gathered eggs, planted pumpkins and made veggie pizzas, among other things!
With this in mind we’ve put together a schedule for 2019 and intend to run different Junior Farmer events almost every month. The first of the New Year will be Tractors Galore in the middle of January, where we hope to welcome an army of little tractor fanatics to the farm for some noisy fun-ducation!
Happy New Year to you all and I hope some of the plans above whet your appetite for an exciting 2019 down on the farm!
James Bulmer, 5th January 2019.