Jimmy Doherty, Suffolk farmer and retailer.

“Exciting times”

March on the farm is when things start to really get exciting. Spring is upon us, which means lambing season and long nights for our stockman. So far we’ve had no orphan lambs, which is a great result, and they’re all frolicking about – a real favourite with our visitors, so joyful to watch!

The Farm Park Zoo continues to go from strength to strength, with the newer arrivals really settling in well. In addition to our domestic species, the coatis who arrived earlier in the year have proven to be a real hit. These raccoon-like creatures from Central America are incredible to watch and are very sociable. The February halfterm was our first chance to show off these very sociable animals and, along with many of the other creatures, we provided daily talks and feeding sessions. It doesn’t end there – raccoons will be joining them around Easter which will add even more to the Farm Park Zoo offering.

Mothering Sunday is one of our biggest days. We’ve thought long and hard about how to make the whole site an experience that anyone can enjoy, and a Mother’s Day jaunt to the farm really is a day that people make the most of! A stroll around the Farm Park and adventure in the woods is topped or tailed by a hearty breakfast or incredible lunch in the restaurant. This is the time of year the chefs get really excited, as soon foraging can begin again in earnest and the vegetable garden really starts to spring into life. We have two full-time gardeners who work closely with our head chef all year round to plan continuous production of fresh produce which can be added to the daily changing menu. A dynamic menu reliant on local sources is a brave step, but a challenge we’ve taken on and are succeeding with. It’s a very important string to the Jimmy’s Farm bow as it proves that sustainability in a commercial setting IS possible. It takes years to build up to and you need a well-shaped plan and team to deliver it, but the rewards at the end of the day truly are rewarding – for both the farm and the customer.

Our next big steps will be the reopening of our butterfly house which will happen as soon as it’s warm enough, hopefully by the end of the month, and the build of our aviary – another piece of investment that will add even more to the visitor experience and our education offering. Jimmy’s Farm has a long-standing and robust education programme which is enhanced with every addition we make to the farm, and it’s a real joy to share my passions with the next generation – the rare-breeds, the exotic animals and the butterflies. We offer educational experiences for schools and community groups which can encompass anything the farm offers, from butchery to woodcraft, and it brings in an entirely new crowd of people who always come back.

The year is flying by and we still have so much more to come! Weddings will start again soon, the breeding plan is well underway and of course the Festival in July. Diversification is something we take very seriously at the Farm and makes for some very exciting times!

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