TAKE a trip to award-winning ice cream parlour Wheelbirks and you may struggle to find a seat immediately due to its popularity with families.

And hundreds of customers took the time to discover the behind-the-scenes working of the dairy farm in an annual harvest event planned to educate the public in a fun and engaging way.

Complementing the Stocksfield farm’s open event in June, the harvest event comes at the end of the productive season which allows the public to tour the ploughed and sown fields, as well as the farm buildings.

Activities included on the day were tractor and trailer rides and walking farm tours, with farm owners Tom and Hugh Richardson on hand to pass on expert information to inquisitive visitors.

Guests were invited to sit in combine harvesters, but the most popular attraction was arguably watching the cows being milked in the milking parlour.

The area where the ice cream was made is a hit with guests too, although some do express disappointment at how clean the equipment was.

Over in the ice cream parlour, the large variety of home-churned flavours of ice cream sold like hot cakes, as did the home preserves which included jams, chutneys and jellies made from apples from the farm’s orchard.

Parlour manager Lucinda Richardson said: “It’s a really fun and educational day and we feel letting the public see what goes on at a farm is very important.

“We want people to come and learn about our industry, and everybody loves to see where the ice cream is made.

“Wheelbirks is a well-established and well supported, and we see this as a lovely way for people to feel they can be involved with what goes on here.

“Giving up that time and doing events like this makes people feel like they belong to Wheelbirks and makes them want to come back, and that makes us happy.”

She added: “It may sound strange, but some people have never been to a farm as they live in the city so it is good to help them understand the system.”

At Wheelbirks, wildlife conservation ranks high on the priority list and the farm is conscious of its animal visitors.

Among the most commonly sighted birds spotted at the farm are red kites and kestrels, with the farmers ensuring they care for the environment by paying particular attention to the hedgerows and wet areas to make the land attractive to their animal friends.

The most recent harvest event was the 10th of its kind since the ice cream parlour opened its doors to the public back in 2010.

Wheelbirks will mark its 10th anniversary in March and plan to share the landmark birthday with guests.