Reconnecting to the countryside

In this month’s Suffolk Agricultural Association column, we learn how it’s coping with a busy period of preparation

AS we approach springtime, the calendar of events at Suffolk Agricultural Association becomes increasingly busy.

Preparations are already under way for two major educational events and, of course, for the Suffolk Show, which takes place at Trinity Park on Thursday, June 7, and Friday June 8.

One of the biggest annual educational events is the School Farm and Country Fair, which will take place for the 12th time on Thursday, April 26.

This year more than 4,000 school children from across Suffolk will attend the event at Trinity Park, where they will meet farmers and other agricultural professionals to learn about where their food comes from, how it is made and how it reaches their table.

The one-day educational event, which has been attended by more than 40,000 pupils since its inception in 2001, includes a number of live demonstrations including sheep shearing, gun dogs and falconry. Each school is paired with a farmer steward who acts as their expert for the day to ensure that the pupils understand as much as possible from this unique experience.

Bill Baker of Baker Farms, chairman of the School Farm and Country Fair organising committee, said: “With fewer farmers farming larger areas and employing less people, those of us involved in the industry realise the importance of interacting with our neighbours and this event provides the ideal opportunity for children to learn more about what goes on in the countryside around them”

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“The event aims to reconnect the country with young people and that is why we partner up each school with a local farmer, who may offer to continue the relationship by going back into school as a follow up to the event.”

Suffolk Agricultural Association will also be helping the county’s school children to take part in the Potato Council’s ‘Grow Your Own Potatoes’ competition.

The Association will work with 180 primary school pupils this year, helping them to learn more about how potatoes are grown and harvested. The pupils will visit Trinity Park on March 15th to spend two hours with farmers, learning about potato products, healthy eating and the machinery used on large-scale farms for preparing and planting potatoes. The farmers will also help the children to plant their potatoes and offer advice on how to look after them when they are back in the classroom.

On 19 June, a harvesting day will be held. The farmers will harvest their own potatoes and the children will harvest theirs, with the group growing the greatest yielding potato plant winning a trip to a farm.

Once the children have harvested their potatoes, the chef from Trinity Park will speak to them about which foods come from potatoes and their nutritional value. The children then make their own potato salad to eat at the event.

For more details about the Association’s educational events, contact Hannah Woods at or call 01473 707118.

The Suffolk Show

Alongside our busy educational events, preparations for this year’s Suffolk Show are gathering pace.

This year’s Show will take place on June 7th and 8th – a change from our usual dates because of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations earlier in the month – and the event promises to be bigger and better than ever before.

The traditional favourites will be returning including a military display, the Adnams Food and Drink Experience and the children’s farm, whilst there will be lots of new attractions this year. A new luxury shopping area called ‘Fifth Avenue’ will house some local boutique brands, while the Suffolk Sports village will celebrate the London 2012 Olympics with some exciting additions. The Sport Village has once again been awarded the Olympic Inspire Mark by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Garmes.

Equestrian entries are high on the agenda this month, as March 30 is the closing date for entries into the heavy horse, light horse, pony and driving classes.

For light horse and pony competitors the Show offers qualifiers for the prestigious Royal International Horse Show, Olympia and Horse of the Year Show amongst others, but also has classes for those who would like to compete at their local County Show but do not necessarily wish to qualify for other events.

This year the Show has introduced additional classes for Ridden Mountain & Moorland and Ridden Skewbald & Piebald for those competitors who do not wish to qualify for Olympia or RIHS and there are also new classes for Flat Ridden Sport Horses.

The Show is delighted to report that it will also be hosting the Percheron Horse Society Breed Show for the second year. In addition there will be In-Hand Classes for Shires and the magnificent Suffolk Horses, a harness class, turnouts and, after its successful introduction last year, a class for ridden heavy horses.

For the show jumpers, there are seven classes at the Show, ranging from a 1.25m Open Championship to the International Trial and International Stairway, with a total prize fund in excess of �20,000.

Following on from the successful Eastern Counties Spring Championship held the first weekend of March at Trinity Park, the farriery building will once again be ringing with the sound of hammers on steel with a packed two days of competition at the Show. There are classes for qualified and apprentice farriers and one of the only opportunities of the year to shoe Suffolk Horses competitively.

There are a full range of livestock classes at the Show with both continental and native breeds of cattle and sheep, dairy and boer goats, as well as classes for pedigree pigs competing for the BPA Pig and Young Pig of the Year qualifiers and commercial pigs which will then be auctioned at the Show, giving visitors the opportunity to stock up their freezer with local pork.

Copies of the schedules and entry forms can be downloaded from the Suffolk Show website at or by post, please send a stamped addressed envelope (92p) to Elizabeth Payne, Suffolk Agricultural Association, Trinity Park, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP3 8UH, stating the section in which you are interested.

To buy tickets for the Show, visit or call 01473 707117. Under 4’s are free and tickets can also be bought on show days. Family tickets (two adults and two children) cost just �40 and tickets bought before May 31st include the cost of parking.