There can’t be many of us who haven’t taken a trip to Sacrewell Farm at some point! I didn’t realise they had been around for 50 years though, please see below for a press release sent about the celebrations.
In January 1964, the widow of a farmer near Peterborough created a legacy for her late husband by forming a trust in his memory.
Fifty years later The William Scott Abbott Trust is still going strong at Sacrewell Farm near Wansford. The ideology of the Trust and all it stands for is an agricultural education for all.
Although William Scott Abbott and his wife Mary would not recognise parts of the Farm as it stands today the educational values they were so desperate to achieve are still very much alive.
Marketing and Communications Officer at the Trust, Megan Horner said: “William and Mary had no children and their views on farming were thought to be very radical at the time! William had a background in engineering and spent some time in America where he learned about the farming methods they used and brought them back to the UK.
“When the Trust was formed 50 years ago the aim was to teach people about agriculture, food and farming by giving them hands on experience. People would come to the Farm to watch and observe the farmers as they worked.”
In 1958, the year before his death, William wrote: “I have always had in mind the creation of a sound, practical, enterprise, preserving what is best in our country way of life, and based on sound, practical farming, as all country life must be.
“At the same time it has been my endeavour to preserve and enhance the beauty of the country-side by the erection of appropriate buildings, also by the planting of trees, in this way integrating forestry on a small scale with the general farming policy.”
In 1982, William’s nephew David Powell, who was managing the Farm at the time, made the decision to create a visitor centre at Sacrewell. It was the first step in creating the farm centre at it is known today.
The farm land was leased to other companies so that the Trust could focus on running the centre and creating an educational facility in the surrounding Cambridgeshire countryside. The Farm currently welcomes about 8,000 school children each year who come to see the animals and learn about farming.
Miss Horner said: “Now more than ever it is important that children learn where their food comes from. It constantly amazes us how few children know how their baked beans, chips and sausages are made!
“Our land is currently leased out to Riverford Organic who work with us to provide tours of the Farm so that our visitors know what is growing in each field. Next month we will be launching two ramble routes so that visitors can explore the Farm on foot for free!”
The Trust is very proud to have also worked alongside PGRO (Processors and Growers Research Organisation) since 1967 when they first moved to Sacrewell for research purposes.
Now, in 2014, the farm centre is once again undergoing a transformation. To mark the 50th anniversary and the beginning of the £1.7m Watermill Project the farm centre is rebranding as Sacrewell Farm and Watermill.
The Trust is also investing more than £100,000 in upgrading its Activity Barn and its small animal village to create even more provision for families when they visit the Farm.
Miss Horner says regular visitors to the Farm will start to see changes taking place almost immediately. She added: “It’s something that all the staff and volunteers at the Farm are excited about and we are really looking forward to seeing what the next 12 months have in store.
“All money raised from people visiting the Farm goes into the Trust funds and we are now investing the money back into the Farm by upgrading the wonderful facilities we already have on site.
“As part of the Watermill Project we will be recruiting more volunteers to assist in bringing the history of the site to life-right back to the Romans who first lived on the land!”
A Watermill is first recorded at Sacrewell in the Domesday Book. The current Watermill was built in 1755 and although it is still working, will soon fall to disrepair without the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund financed Watermill Project. During the Second World War the land was tended by the Land Army Girls who inspired the 1940s themed Mill House on site.
The Farm has also revamped its events programme to celebrate its 50th anniversary to include a Spring Fair on May 4th and 5th which will celebrate the rich history of the Farm and the surrounding countryside.
For more information about what’s on at Sacrewell this year please visit http://www.sacrewell.org.uk