Project celebrating farming heritage begins in the Wingfield area with a ploughing event on 8 April 2010

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts’ Heritage Lottery funded outreach project, Culture of the Countryside, has linked up with Wingfield Barns and Swingletree Stables in Suffolk for an exciting series of public events celebrating the heritage of farming in the area. The team will be using heavy horses and a vintage tractor to grow a crop of potatoes in the traditional way and want local people to get involved. The project begins on Thursday 8 April with a public ploughing day (11am – 3pm, free admission) and will culminate with a fun-packed potato festival immediately after the harvest in July. The Wingfield area project is working with schools and community groups and is funded by the University of East Anglia’s Outreach Opportunity Fund.

“We are very excited about our Culture of the Countryside project at Wingfield. It is a wonderful example of how the project, which takes world art as a starting point, gets people thinking about their culture and heritage, and brings communities together with some fabulous results. We hope people will come along to see what’s happening and maybe even get their hands dirty helping us plant the potatoes!” – Veronica Sekules, Head of Education and Research and Culture of the Countryside Project Director, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

The Culture of the Countryside project at Wingfield captures the moment when the era of the horse finally gave way to the era of the tractor during the1950s. Horses will be used alongside a vintage tractor and ‘people power’ to cultivate an acre of potatoes at Blackwing Ltd, Barnes Farm, Stradbroke. The series of events offers people the chance to watch traditional farming practices and to get involved. They begin with ploughing day on Thursday 8 April using 3 pairs of heavy horses. On Wednesday 14 April a vintage tractor will be used for planting and people are invited to come along to watch and help. School pupils will then harvest the potatoes during the week commencing 5 July. Plans are well underway for the Potato Festival on Saturday 10 July when there will be competitions, art activities, a ‘Mr Potato Head’ contest, horse-drawn carriage rides and more.

“Swingletree stables at Wingfield are delighted to join with the Sainsbury Centre and Wingfield Barns to be at the forefront of the revival of the use of the heavy horse agriculture. We are so lucky to have Cheryl Grover, one of Britain’s leading heavy horse experts, on hand to give an insight into all aspects of the heavy horse in food production. As Chairman of the British Driving Society (the national organisation responsible for all harness horse driving in the UK), I am delighted to be involved with this exciting project. Of course, no-one imagines that the horse can ever again produce enough food to supply supermarkets, but they are enormously valuable for cultivating organic and specialist crops, and for reminding us of our rural roots

A pair of magnificent heavy horses ploughing a furrow – followed by a ‘snowstorm’ of seagulls eagerly searching for a free meal along the freshly-turned earth – is one of the most popular and enduring images of the countryside. Sadly, the need to mass-produce food for the supermarket has put an end to this most traditional of all method of food production, and has turned our native Shires, Suffolk Punches and Clydesdales into rapidly vanishing breeds; the Suffolk Punch is actually on the Critical List of Rare Breeds, with currently somewhat less breeding animals in existence than blue whales!” – John Parker, Swingletree Stables, Suffolk.

Heavy Horses
Image courtesy of Heavy Horses World

The Wingfield project, which is supported by the University of East Anglia’s Outreach Opportunity Fund, has developed from Culture of the Countryside visits to 4 primary schools in the area (All Saints Laxfield, Fressingfield, Wilby and Mendham). The Centre’s world art handling collection was used a starting point for discussion about local heritage and led to a focus on farming. Work by the pupils will be exhibited at Wingfield Barns from Saturday 26 June – Saturday 17 July.

Culture of the Countryside is the Sainsbury Centre’s ambitious 3-year outreach project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which began in October 2007. The Centre has been working with schools and communities across Norfolk and Suffolk, using its world art handling collection as a starting point to explore both current environmental and heritage issues as well as helping to build community relationships.

Potato Events at Blackwing Ltd, Barnes Farm, Stradbroke
Ploughing Day
Thursday 8 April

11am – 3pm
Price: free

Watch 3 pairs of magnificent heavy horses plough the field in preparation for plantingPlanting Day
Wednesday 14 April

11am – 3pm
Price: 50p; includes potatoes for you to plant

Take part in planting potatoes in a 1950s way, aided by tractor from the eraLocation
Blackwing Ltd, Barnes Farm, Battlesea Green, Stradbroke, Eye, Suffolk IP21 5NE
For a map visit
Potato Festival and Exhibition at Wingfield Barns
Potato Festival
Saturday 10 July

Midday – 6pm
Admission: £1; includes a potato for art activities

Celebrate your farming heritage, heavy horses and the humble potato on this fun packed day with something for everyone to enjoy. Competitions, art activities, games, ‘posh potato nosh’, horse-drawn carriage rides and more! Visit for more information.Exhibition
Saturday 26 June – Saturday 17 July

Tue – Sat 10am – 5pm
Sun 11am – 5pm
Closed on Mondays
Price: free – donations welcome

Work by local primary schools will be on display at Wingfield barns. Come along and see their fantastic work and find out more about what they have been doing.Location
Wingfield Barns, Church Road, Wingfield, Suffolk, IP21 5RA
Information: call 01379 384505 or email: [email protected]

Sainsbury Centre opening times and admission charges:

The Sainsbury Centre is open Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday including Bank Holidays), 10am to 5pm and until 8pm on Wednesdays. Tel 01603 593199 or email [email protected]

Admission to the gallery and permanent collections is free. Special exhibitions are charged.