Lambing is upon us and one of the best attractions to see this in the county is at the Northmoor Trust at Little Wittenham, writes trust member CHARLOTTE COOKSON

Here at the Northmoor Trust we are glad that spring is on its way. It's when the most anticipated events in our calendar take place - the lambing weekends. Over two weekends in March, thousands of visitors turn up at Hill Farm, Little Wittenham nature reserve, to see our newborn lambs.

The trust aims to promote conservation through exemplary land management, education and land science, and our small flock of 500 ewes play a vital role in the work that we do.

They act as nature's lawnmowers, enabling us to keep our grassland in check.

"Historically, sheep have been important in managing grassland in the UK," said John Sargent, head of Land Enterprises at the trust. "Over hundreds of years, grazing livestock have shaped the countryside that we see around us."

The flock is kept to help to maintain public access to Wittenham Clumps and other land that we own in an environmentally sensitive manner, and to demonstrate the link between conservation and farming.

The flock also helps our educational work. The lambing weekends enable local people to get direct experience of this.

"It's a great time for adults and children to learn about sheep, get close to the lambs and even try bottle feeding," said Alison Lee, Community Engagement Assistant, who is organising the event. With more than 850 lambs expected this year, there's a fair chance that many of our visitors will be perfectly placed to see one or two being born.

This is Alison's first spring at the trust and she hopes to see more than 2,000 members of the public visit the Hill Farm site over the two weekends.

"My role is to get people interested in nature and out into their local environment," she said. "I want people to get involved with the landscape and to understand where their food comes from. Many children do not get an opportunity to visit a farm these days and we want to get them interested in nature and out into the great outdoors."

John, who has worked for the trust for more than 20 years and has been involved in many lambing weekends in that time, agreed.

"It's a wonderful experience and, for many people these days, such a rare treat to get this close to farm animals," said John. "The kids love it, and it's one of the ways that we can connect with the public and show them what we do." Always a big hit with children, adult visitors are often just as fascinated by our newborn lambs and relish the opportunity to learn about the relationships between farming and the environment.

Of course, there will be more to see during the lambing weekends than just sheep.

Visitors will be able to explore Project Timescape, our interactive environmental exhibit where you can experience life in the past and explore the impact of human activity on the planet.

Project Timescape opened just over a year ago and, since then hundreds of visitors have passed through its doors.

As with most livestock, the trust flock is not kept simply for grazing. Wittenham Lamb made its debut at Wallingford Farmers' Market in 2002 and is now sold at markets all over South Oxfordshire throughout the year.

We are proud of the farming methods that we use and believe that one of the best ways to promote these methods is to demonstrate the high quality of the meat that they produce.

Our lambs and their mothers are kept indoors for only a few weeks until they are strong enough to be turned out to pasture, and because they are reared on their mother's milk and matured slowly on our grassland, their meat is tender and flavoursome. "Selling the meat locally is a great way of promoting our work to the public and of ensuring that the food miles and carbon emissions associated with our lamb production are as low as possible," said John.

We believe that it is important for children to make the association between the animals that they see in the fields and the food that they eat, and visiting the lambs helps to teach them about where food comes from and to introduce the idea of local produce. Wittenham Lamb will be available to purchase during the open weekends. Above all, the trust is committed to helping Oxfordshire people to enjoy this beautiful county, and the lambing days are a fun day out for everyone. Come down to see us and our sheep at Hill Farm.

The Northmoor Trust lambing weekends take place on March 15/16 and 22/23. Entry costs £3 per adult, children under 16 and members of the trust go free.

For more information about Project Timescape and the work of the Northmoor Trust, visit the website.