Spring 2016 has been a time of new beginnings here at Holkham and very exciting for the Education team on the estate. The focal point of this has been our fantastic new farming exhibition in the newly redeveloped courtyard area. ‘Field to Fork’, a permanent exhibition, is the culmination of 2 years’ of design and planning, led by Education Officer Sue Penlington.
The highly interactive displays take visitors on a journey through the history of the agricultural methods used and the developments made, here on the farmland at Holkham. Many of these innovations, such as the crop rotation system invented at Holkham by Charles ‘Turnip’ Townshend in the early 18th century, have become both nationally and internationally important. Developments continue to flourish as the current Earl of Leicester looks to renewable energies such as solar power, biomass fuel and the production of gas via anaerobic digesters to sustain the Holkham Farming Company.
The exhibition has been designed with all ages in mind and the six rooms, each focussed on a different aspect of farming, use a blend of traditional media and state of the art technology to enable all visitors to access the information on show. In every room there is something to push, pull, touch or smell, making for a truly memorable experience. There are bowler or ‘Coke’ hats and gamekeepers’ tweeds to try on, wheat to grind by hand and beautiful displays of the wildlife which thrives on the farmland. The in-house ‘cinema’, complete with hessian wheat sack ‘bean-bags’ for the comfort of children, delivers a spell-bindingly beautiful film of the farming year at Holkham, shot on the estate last year.
Having now been open for over a month, we look forward to soon welcoming our first school visit groups to the exhibition, where they can participate in a specially designed team challenge which will ensure they get the most from their educational experience. Combining a visit to the exhibition with a Trailer Tour of the farmland, conservation and game-keeping areas of the estate, usually off-limits to the public will make for a magical field trip. It will also mean that our aim, to educate local children about food provenance and their agricultural heritage and future, will be very roundly met.
If you are not coming as part of a school visit, please do come along with your family as the exhibition really is not to be missed. Visitors to 'Field to Fork' have been fantastically positive in their feedback, so get yourselves along here for a feast of farming fun!