Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Volunteer Archives...

Thanks to Intuit UK (the company who makes our accounting programme) who are offering small businesses throughout the UK a chance to win up to £10,000, we started to delve into the Fordhall Volunteer Photo Archives.  We came across some brilliant pictures and memories spanning the past ten years...
We have been posting them all over Facebook and Twitter and have had a fantastic response from volunteers past and present...

If you want to vote for us to win, we have until Friday 4th April 2014 to drum up as many votes as possible! We want to use the funds to buy a new tool shed and new tools for our volunteers, to create a nicer space for them to stay in overnight and hopefully be able to to fund training opportunities for volunteers on our Volunteer Working Weekends....Just click You don't have to give any details, it just takes a click.  Thank you!

Here is a selection of the photos we have been sharing lately... Were you here? Can you spot yourself?
Rob and Jason fixing Betty the Tractor
Building tree protectors....not trapping Inlandis in a box!

2006 - Save Fordhall Farm!

What's through the square window...?

Building a boardwalk

Building bridges...

Two thumbs up!

In the old Farm Shop... 2004

Andy and Tess

2011 volunteer weekend

Danny O'Sullivan and Heath McDonald

More from 2004

Wayfarers in the Community Garden

'Charlottes' Angels?!

Everyone say CHEESE!

Building a new compost toilet for our yurts

Who needs work benches...we've got picnic benches!

The lovely, late Alec Nunn...sorely missed.

In the farm house garden

Dismantling the old compost toilet.


Nevermind the picnic bench...just use the flatbed trolley!

Volunteers of all ages...and all tastes in hats!

At the end of a long volunteer weekend!
Don't forget you can vote for us by clicking Thank you!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Royal Visit to Fordhall Organic Farm

On Wednesday 12th March, we were honoured to have HRH The Duke of Gloucester visit Fordhall Farm. We felt very much like ducks…under water (or behind the scenes) it was hectic planning and rushing about, but above water (or to all those who were attending the day) it was calm and smooth running!

The Duke arrived with several dignitaries, including The High Sheriff of Shropshire, the Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire and a few burly policemen.  They were introduced to Charlotte, Ben, Connie and the members of the FCLI Board, before being escorted down to the yurts…

Before officially opening the yurts, the Duke met volunteers who have helped with the yurt renovation and other conservation projects on the farm.Chris Eldon Lee the FCLI Chairman of the Board gave an excellent speech, before inviting the Duke to unveil the plaque in front of the yurts…

He was shown around our newly renovated (Shropshire made)yurts, the eco shower and tcompost toilet. Charlotte said he was really intrigued by the latter and asked LOTS of questions…this meant that she had to discuss in detail ‘going to the toilet’ with royalty…as you do!

The Duke then went on to meet more volunteers who help out and about on the farm and was then introduced to the children of Buntingsdale School who performed a Worm Dance for him.

The visit continued over to the Community Garden, where Bex Syrett (our Community Gardening Co-ordinator) introduced the Duke to The Wayfarers group, a group of adults with learning disabilities.  Then to Mike Price (our Youth Project Co-ordinator) and three young people who are currently on the project.

Children from Hodnet School were also out in the garden and the Duke greeted them too... but it didn't end there..

Next he met with a group of shareholders, who were invited to represent the 8000 who own the farm, including our first ever shareholder, Graham Sedgeley. 

Jim Critchley was one of this group, after shaking hands with the Duke, he said he would never wash his hand again!

The Duke met the staff in the Farm Shop and was also shown around the new bakery, before meeting the team in Arthur’s Farm Kitchen. 

Last, but not least, the Duke went to the FCLI office where he met the staff and office volunteers.  The volunteers were busy stuffing AGM Invites and copies of The Grazer into 6000 envelopes before he entered, so they were grateful for the break!

The Duke asked if the volunteers had to lick all 6000 envelopes…! We’re not that cruel, the envelopes are all self-sealing. J

After meeting everyone (almost 100 Fordhall peeps), Arthur’s Farm Kitchen served a delicious buffet, including a warm chocolate pudding for dessert, apparently, chocolate pudding is the Duke’s favourite!

Before being whisked off to his next visit, Charlotte and Ben presented him with a share certificate, ‘The Fight for Fordhall Farm’ book and a selection of meat… We don’t think he’ll forget his visit in a hurry!

And now HRH The Duke of Gloucester is a fully fledged member and landowner of Fordhall Farm.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

End of Year Roundup

2013, that was the year that…

Arthur’s Farm Kitchen won three stars (the highest award) from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.  Not only can you enjoy a delicious meal here, but you can do so, safe in the knowledge that your conscience is clear as your surroundings and everything you are consuming has been sustainably sourced!
After some very long, cold winter months, we held our Spring Celebration and Lambing Day.  What a great success!  The event brought in over 1000 people who enjoyed one of the first weekends of sunshine of the year.

We had the award winning folk musician John Kirkpatrick fill our function room with clever lyrics and beautiful melodies.

During the summer, Brigit Strawbridge (of BBC’s “It’s not easy being green” fame) came to run a Bee Aware Workshop, participants took a walk around the farm learning about bees and all they do for our eco-system.

The old Nuffield tractor “Betty” that Arthur used to use at Fordhall was given a new lease of life by volunteers Rob and Jason.  She received a new, shiny red coat of paint, a big cheesy grin and working horn.  Kids love to while away the hours playing on her.

Our Summer Fair, just so happened to fall on one of THE hottest days of the year.  Luckily, we had two ice-cream stalls on hand to cool everyone off!

Charlotte was invited to the Isle of Man by the Isle of Man permaculture group where she spent her time visiting farms and meeting politicians – spreading the Fordhall name!

In July we held our annual Supporters BBQ.  We had about 130 guests, 21 of whom were visiting Fordhall for the first time ever.

Ben signed the Fordhall Farm Shop up with the Pasture Fed Livestock Association (PFLA).  This means that we will have QR codes on all our meat which can be scanned, taking you to the PFLA website and you can track the animals journey from pasture to plate.  The PFLA also held their AGM at Fordhall in the summer, where they had a farm tour from Ben and a delicious buffet from Arthur’s Farm Kitchen.

Whilst the Fordhall Catering team were at Carfest this year, not only did they serve Chris Evans (BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show) a Fordhall sausage bap, but also our baker Stacey won the “Professional Category” of the Cakes vs. Pies competition with our Ploughman’s Pie!

Charlotte was then invited to Turkey as part of the Green Learning Agreement Development Programme.  Farmers from all over Europe joined to together to understand how each country is dealing with the ageing population in agriculture.

Whilst Charlotte was away, Ben and Maz Hollins gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy.  Jamie Arthur Hollins was born on 3rd September, weighing in at a healthy 8lbs 4oz.  He is very cute!

The weekend after, we held our 4th Annual Beer and Music Festival.  This was a fantastic event to end the summer with.  Lots of families came for the day to enjoy the local music and local tipples and the children had a whale of a time playing in straw and watching Jester Jack.

We had lots of international visitors to Fordhall last year, from Brazilian volunteer Felipe to Chinese student Chao, visits from New Zealand shareholders and a PhD Student from Japan.
L-R Will Panter, Felip Bruceno (It's not just little kids who like to play on the old tractor!)

At the end of September, Charlotte Hollins married the love of her life Oli Allan in a beautiful outdoor ceremony on the ancient Motte and Bailey site! It was a gorgeous autumn day and Charlotte looked beautiful in her second-hand Justin Alexander, lace dress, carrying a bunch of flowers scoured from gardens in Market Drayton!

After her honeymoon, Charlotte held an Afternoon Cream Tea for those who had worked at Fordhall Farm pre-1980s.  We traded memories for a complimentary cream tea as part of the Heritage Lottery funded project.  Those memories, along with press articles, letters, recipes, photographs, journals and diaries are being conserved and catalogued at Shropshire Archives for posterity.

John Hughes (Shropshire Wildlife Trust) ran a Mushroom Mosey in October.  This fungi forage was inundated with participants and they all enjoyed a mushroom based lunch from Arthur's after their exploration around the farm.

As winter began, we held another music night with the trans-Atlantic folk duo Hickman and Cassidy.  James Hickman is a local Shropshire lad and American born, Icelandic dwelling, Dan Cassidy is the brother of the late Eva Cassidy.  James and Dan play a mixture of original and traditional folk tunes on the fiddle and guitar.

Arthur’s Farm Kitchen won their second award of the year from the Shropshire Star Tourism and Leisure Awards.  Odilia, Charlotte and I went to the awards ceremony in Ironbridge, where we found out we were the winners of the “Best Tearoom/CafĂ© Category”.  Thank you to everyone who voted for us!

Finally, to round the year off, we held our Christmas Carols on the Farm event.  We were thrilled to see so many people turn up and brave the weather for a sing-song around the fire, whilst children got to visit Father Christmas in the Fordhall Grotto.

We know that of our achievements and successes would not be possible without the support and encouragement of our subscribers, shareholders, visitors, customers and of course, our volunteers - essentially, each and every one of YOU!

Here is to another jam-packed, fun filled 12 months in 2014 – what will the year have in store….?

Come and join us for some fun, see you soon,