Durham farm sweeps up national award

A WORKING farm which doubles as a visitor attraction has swept to success in a national agricultural award scheme.

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Broom House Farm, at Witton Gilbert, near Durham, won the accolade for the excellence of the educational opportunities and interactive experience it offers visitors.

The farm, run by Mark and Jane Gray, won the award for Best On-Farm Destination in the 2013 UK Farm Retail Awards.

Recognising farms which do more than sell local produce to customers, Broom House was commended for the way it helps visitors learn about food, farming and the countryside in a “hands-on” manner.

The judges also praised the Gray family for being, “passionate about their organic production and countryside stewardship, passing on their enthusiasm in fun and creative ways to visitors of all ages.”

Mrs Gray has run the farm with her husband since 2000, diversifying to first open it for public visits in 2004.

She said: “We were really surprised to win the award, but also really pleased because of the hard work we’ve done here.

“We try to give our visitors a practical experience of how a farm works whilst also giving them some exercise and lots of fresh air.”

She said that education is an exciting element of their business, with about 4,000 school children, from nursery age to sixth-formers, visiting the site each year.

“We make the visits related to their learning and what’s actually happening on the farm.

“Whether it’s A-Level biology or Key Stage 2 maths, what we show them is targeted at what they need to learn.

“We also try to reconnect people with where their food comes from.

“The kids enjoy seeing the full story of the journey of our produce from the field to our farm shop.”

Further details about visits to Broom House Farm are available via broomhousedurham.co.uk, or by ringing 0191-371 8382

Missing wooden cross on Waskerley Moor was cut down by council

A WOODEN cross which disappeared from a remote moor shortly before a traditional Easter service was cut down by the council.

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Organisers of the dawn service on Waskerley Moor, near Consett, initially thought thieves had taken the 10ft wooden cross, which was erected during Lent and discovered to be missing on the eve of the Easter Sunday service.

The service, attended by more than 30 worshippers, went ahead after Methodist minister the Reverend Les Nevin carved a replacement cross from freshly-fallen snow.

However, it has now emerged that Durham County Council chopped down and removed the cross because it had been built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest and breached strict guidelines set up to protect the local habitat.

Andy Niven, countryside service manager at Durham County Council, said the authority had no choice but to cut it down.

He said: “It was dug into the ground and concreted in without any warning and without consent or advice on the potential impact it might have on this very rare habitat.

“There was nothing on it to say who had put it there and neither the council, as landowner, or Natural England, which is responsible for SSSI areas, were asked for permission or advice.

“As a result we had no choice but to remove it.”