CAPTION (l-r) Stephen Fell, past LEAF chairman; Robert Sword, Dawnay Estates director; Robert Goodwill, Agriculture Minister; Philip Wynn, LEAF chairman; and James Stephenson, assistant agent, Dawnay Estates.

AGRICULTURE Minister Robert Goodwill visited a North Yorkshire at the weekend to celebrate Open Farm Sunday.

Stonebeck Gat Farm at Little Fryup, near Danby, was one of more than 360 farms across the UK who opened their gates to the public on Sunday as part of the farming industry's annual open day run by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), the sustainable farming charity.

The farm is part of the Dawnay Estates and Mr Goodwill was met by Robert Sword, estate director, and Philip Wynn, LEAF chairman. His tour of the farm included seeing sheep shearing, dry stone walling demonstrations, sheepdog handling and moorland management practices.

It was the third Open Farm Sunday the farm had held in conjunction with the North York Moors National Park.

Mr Goodwill said: "Open Farm Sunday is a fantastic initiative, getting more people into the countryside to see where our food comes from and meet the farmers who produce it.

"I hope that everyone who visited a farm today learned something new about what farming delivers and why it is so important - producing the food we eat, protecting wildlife and providing access to the beautiful countryside.

"I would like to thank every farmer who participated today, taking the time to welcome the public onto their farms."

Caroline Drummond, LEAF chief executive, said Open Farm Sunday was a special day in the farming calendar. She said: "By coming together, we are helping to increase the public's understanding of farming, build trust and raise awareness of the critical role farmers play, not just as food producers but as providers of healthy soil, clean water, better air quality, improved biodiversity, high animal welfare standards, public access as well as healrth and wellbeing,

"As we look to future changes in support payments, it is more important than ever for farmers to communicate and connect with the public. LEAF Open Farm Sunday provides a fantastic platform for the industry to stand together and proudly demonstrate all that our productive, profitable and progressive food and farming sector delivers."

Next year's LEAF Open Farm Sunday will be on June 7.