A £1.3 million development of Cheshire’s Tatton Park Farm attraction officially launched on Wednesday 4th July with an opening celebrated by over 150 people from across Cheshire and beyond. The event gave visitors the opportunity to find out more about the innovative ‘Field to Fork’ project which tells the story of the journey of our food, from ‘field to fork’.
A recent survey* of 5,000 school children found that 14% of 5 – 7 year olds think that bacon comes from cows, sheep or chickens and 13% of 8 – 11 year olds think that pasta comes from an animal. In its heyday the Farm helped feed the whole of the Tatton Estate and it is hoped that the ‘Field to Fork’ narrative will help reconnect families with the origins of the food they eat by bringing to life this fascinating heritage.
Carole Mullineux, Tatton’s Business Development Manager said: “Field to Fork is a ground breaking project – there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else. There are a lot of animal petting farms in the UK but nowhere that children can get the full experience of a working farm and how food makes a journey – from a field being ploughed, to seeds being sown, crops being grown and then harvested to process into animal feed to produce healthy animals for meat. People are losing touch with where their food comes from and our aim is to provide this information in a sensitive and thought-provoking way.”
The Farm was officially opened by local Knutsford Academy pupil Ben Senior who plays the part of the Farm’s ‘Boy’ character within the Field to Fork story and app. The ribbon cutting followed speeches by Councillor George Walton, Chair of the Tatton Park Board, Aileen McEvoy, Committee Member for the Heritage Lottery Fund North West region and Councillor Don Stockton, Cheshire East Council Environment Portfolio Holder.
Visitors at the launch event had the opportunity to explore the mill, where original machinery has been lovingly restored and visit the slaughter house, open to the public for the first time, where soundscapes and visual effects compare practices from the 1940’s with animal husbandry today.
They were also treated to cookery demonstrations and tastings of Tatton Farm and Estate reared produce and enjoyed cheese and ice-cream making in the Shippon. Guests also enjoyed demonstrations of traditional techniques including dry stone walling, wool spinning and hand milking and learnt about the history and care of all the rare breed animals.
Aileen McEvoy from the Heritage Lottery Fund spoke of the value of the project: “The Heritage Lottery Fund is one of the largest investors in heritage in the country and it’s vital that the projects we support engage with people to communicate the importance of our heritage. Tatton Farm’s Field to Fork project portrays the skills of workers and local people from the past and it is our hope that communities will become more involved in heritage as a result. We would like to offer our huge congratulations to the team.”
The developments at the Farm also support a range of exciting, new educational opportunities as well. As food and nutrition is now a compulsory curriculum subject up to Key Stage 3, school children will have the opportunity to collect food from the fields, process it and cook with it in our new bespoke built cookery barn. Older pupils will see STEM* subjects brought to life by conducting experiments and solving problems using interactive models and machinery on site.
Laura Armitage, Tatton Park’s Learning and Visitor Services Manager said: “The ability to understand where food comes from and consequently make informed decisions about diet and lifestyle is an essential part of pastoral education and we are one of very few sites to explore this in any detail.”