THE historic Newton Rigg Society, which was resurrected after folding in the 1990s, has reported a major boost in membership.

The organisation for students and former students of Newton Rigg College, Penrith, now has 140 members - 40 per cent more than originally anticipated at the time of its reformation in June 2012.

And interest appears in the society to be growing, with inquiries for membership coming from as far afield as Canada.

The seeds of Newton Rigg Society were sown back in the late 19th century when it was decided to create a permanent base for agricultural education for Cumberland and Westmorland. One of the ways the agricultural ethos is being preserved in the re-formed society is through farm visits.

The latest gave members a privileged insight into one of Cumbria’s most innovative farms.

They travelled to Low Foulshaw Farm, Levens, to see how John Geldard and his sons Charles and Richard run their diverse enterprise, which is stocked with Lleyn sheep, Limousin and Charolais cattle and egg-producing hens.

The also saw how the Geldards’ farm, which they took over in 1988, has evolved over time, including powering some of the farm by solar energy.

The visit included a walk to the sea perimeter where society members saw initial investment by the Environment Agency on the sea wall and the need to continue to support the community against flood risk. The society members enjoyed the stunning vista from the top of the sea wall across the farms 70 acres of marsh that spans 1.5 miles of wall.

Afterwards society chairman Frank Chester said: “We certainly had an enlightening afternoon with John and his family and we’d like to thank them for their hospitality.

“They are always looking forward and it is encouraging for the future of farming that they do. It’s not often you get the chance to see such a varied enterprise and we’ve all learned something.”

The next Newton Rigg Society event is an early evening visit on July 9 to Linstock Castle near Carlisle where Alistair Wannop will show members the estate’s anaerobic digester process.

Details from Jackie Moffat, on 01768-896409.