A STOCKSFIELD farm opened its gates to thousands of visitors last week as part of the national scheme to bring farmers and consumers together.

The Richardson family welcomed 1,528 guests with a tour around Wheelbirks Parlour as part of the Open Farm Sunday, an event set up by LEAF, (Linking Environment and Farming), where farmers across Britain give the public a glimpse of the life of a day in the life of a farmer, and an education on food production.

“It’s a really good way for us to open up the channel of communication between ourselves and our consumers,” said Hugh Richardson.

“We’re proud of our farm, and we have nothing hide. In fact we want to show the public the high standards we subscribe to and help them to better understand the work of farmers.”

The day was also used to raise money for charity, the Farming Community Network (FCN), which offers free, confidential support and advice to members of the farming community – a wide range of issues including mental health, anima disease and financial difficulties.

A total of £287 was raised, which Wheelbirks chose to match making the total £575.

Ponteland FCN volunteer Simon Lloyd said: “With such a high suicide rate in the farming industry, we recognise that sometimes you just need someone to talk to, so we’re at the other end of the phone ready to help somebody during their lowest moments.

“Wheelbirks have not only aided us financially through this event, but have also helped to get our name out, which could help put us in touch with someone who needs our support.”