ONCE again this weekend, growers across the country swung open their gates for Open Farm Sunday, but one Bicester site gave a trip with a difference.

At Hill Farm in Duns Tew north west of the town, families were invited to hop on board a huge trailer to see the 100 South Devon cross cattle – then admire the 20,000 solar panels.

The behind-the-scenes tour revealed not just the friendly farm animals, but also a world of eco-friendly technology embodying Bicester's status as a 'garden town'.

Second-generation farmer Charles Landless said it was the second year the farm has taken part in Open Farm Sunday.

He said: "We originally wanted to really show our local community what we have actually done with the solar farm as they are the ones who would have seen all the construction traffic going past.

"We also have the biomass heating system which we thought might be interesting for people to see.

"Last year the open day attracted about 200 visitors and this year I would say there was about 250 people who came.

"It worked quite well and there were a lot of children and locals, as well as visitors from Swindon, Milton Keynes and a group of cyclists who had come from Princes Risborough."

The 20,000 panel solar farm was approved in 2015 and is built on 11 hectares of arable land just outside the village.

The 5MW solar farm is a formidable site and generates enough power to supply more than 1,500 homes.

Families were able to admire the power plant as they were taken round by Mr Landless on his tractor and trailer.

Visitors were also shown the new trees and hedges planted around the solar farm to improve the environment and also the woodchip-burning biomass boiler providing a sustainable heating system for the houses at the farm.

Mr Landless added: "Everybody seemed to enjoy the tours and there were no adverse comments about what we were up to."

The farmer said people had often questioned the solar farm, but said it has actually helped enable to family farm to continue running.

Other farms in the area that flung open their doors to make the most of Open Farm Sunday 2018 included D'Oyleys Farm at Sheephouse near Stadhampton – just south east of Oxford – where the farmer showed people how they grow barley and wheat and rear beef cattle and sheep. There were guided tours and presentations staged for visitors all for free.

Elsewhere in the county tours were being dished out at Church Land Produce in Spelsbury near Chipping Norton teaching people about growing vegetables and crops outside and in the polytunnel.

For more details on Open Farm Sunday see farmsunday.org