Friday, June 30, 2006



Thank you so so much for everything you have all done. For all the shares and donations, for all the people you have ever told, for all your help at working weekends and in the office, and for all the fantastic letters we have received.

You have all been fantastic and this would not have been possible without eveyones support. You deserve a HUGE pat on the back.

Check out our home page for the upcoming media...its pretty impressive!

And now for the well deserved thanks:

To all those people who believed in us at the beginning - Nicola Yates at North Shropshire District Council; Leader Plus; Our fantastic board members and Die-Hard volunteers who have been the back-bone of the campagin; Shropshire County Council for a £20, 000 grant; and to the maker of oatcakes for great on-the-go nourishing snacks.

To all those who have given their time and expertise for free - Iain Morrison at MFG Solicitors for his extremely generous time; Taste of the Town Company for their continuous support; Generous local businesses; Greg Pilley and Martin Large from Stroud Commonwealth; and far too many to mention here.

To those who have pushed the campagin beyond our abilities - the reporters and media who have all given fair and just accounts of the project, following it from the beginning and letting more and more people know about this exciting Initiative.

To the fantastic shareholders and generous donators - your leap of faith has never been unappriciated and we cannot thank you enough for making this possbile. The office walls are filled with letters and notes of support and enouragement which has fuelled us on. Many of you have taken the campagin on yourselves and for this we are sincerely touched and moved.

And finally, to one another - Charlotte, Ben and Sophie for being enthusiastic, determined and plain stubbon.

Who would have thought two years ago that over 6,000 people from across the world would be interested in Fordhall Farm and its hidden treasures? WELL DONE FOLKS - fantastic work.

And this is just the beginning! Securing the land is just the first rung on a massive ladder but we feel confident thanks to you. Shares will continue to be sold and any monies over the land purchase amount will go towards researching and building the bunkhouse and educational facilities that have been planned. The sooner the better so we can really allow Fordhall to reach its potenital.

Make sure you all join us for our Charity Dinner and Auction to celebrate in style on July 15th.

May be we may even have a night off sometime soon? Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Volunteer Frenzy

WOW the dead line is quickly approaching now with only 2 days remaining and only another £30,000 still needed. We know that there is £750,000 cleared in the bank, and then cheques waiting to be cleared and the next days post still to be opened - who knows what the total figure will be this afternoon, and this is coming all from you guys...

The support we have received from volunteers over the past two years has been amazing. Without all their help we never would have got this far. With the last few days flying bye we have had great support from local and national volunteers. They all seem determined to help us with this last push to the deadline. Many of them have vowed to continue their support after the deadline to help get the project on it's feet.

A big worry for us is that after the deadline has passed many people will lose enthusiasm and forget about the great things planned here. Dont forget there is the Bunk House, the educational resource room and the local/organic food tea rooms still to conquer. This project is still really at its beginning, but once we have secured the farm (looking more and more positive by the minute) there are many more grants that we can apply for, and of course we have the time to do them.

Shares will still be on sale after this week, so dont worry if you are running late. Any surplus made will go into these activities and hopefully to help eat into the loan that we also have from Triodos Bank.

This project has such enormouse potential and has gathered such momentum that it has to succeed now.

Current Total £770,000
2 days to go...
Shareholders: 5,361

Monday, June 26, 2006

We are so close, by Ben Hollins

Only 5 days left
With only 5 days to go until our dead line the tension is really building in the office. We are working all hours possible to try and cram in as much work as possible.

Today has been a very surreal day, the phones have not only been hot with people wishing to purchase shares but they have also been ringing off the hook with the media wanting to do follow up stories and news pieces on the TV.
Coming Up:
  • BBC Midlands - Tuesday evening
  • Shropshire Star - Tuesday
  • Radio Shropshire - every day this week 8.45am
  • Beacon Radio - Tuesday
  • Telford FM - Tuesday
  • BBC Breakfast News - THE RESULT LIVE - Friday morning 6.20am
If a couple of years ago I had been told I would be in this situation now I would never had believed it. When we first set up the web site we thought it was great when we got the first 500 hits, but now the web has had near 30,000 viewers, how amazing is that. The online sales have shot up this week with the dead line looming on the horizon (what a god send paypal has been for us).
What you must not forget is that July 1st is just the first step on a very tall ladder for us here at Fordhall. Securing the land is vital, but the fundraising does not end there. Our plans for the future of Fordhall, with bunk houses and educational facilities will also need funding. If you feel you can help post saving the farm, all the same funding options will be available.
It's been great that everyone has taken up our campaign and followed it so loyaly. We just need to maintain the momentum for these last few days in order to meet our target.

Farm update:
Following my previous bloggs a few people contacted me to find out how the TB tests went. Well I'm happy to say that we passed with no problems.
On Saturday we took delivery of our 2nd bunch of free-range chickens. These are not egg laying hens, but they are for producing meat to sell in the farm shop. We find many people prefere to buy our home grown free-range non organic chickens apposed to commercial organic chicken. We only rear 30 at a time as this allows us to pay attention to detail and ensure we are producing a good quality product. We may now expand on this to fill the demand.

Raised so far: £729,000
Share holders: 4,380

Friday, June 23, 2006

Will we do it?

Well, this week has been amazing.

What goes on in the Office?
There have just been so many people in the office that we are processing over 100 share applications a day. There even seems to be a shift pattern happening, we have a group before lunch, some who stay all day and others who join in for the late night

shift. Take today for example; we began with Rob (from Leeds and who is camping at the farm to help in the office until the end of the campaign) and he has spent the whole day just opening the post, then there is Marrie-Anne who has taken the week off work to help in the office, and Sue from Kidderminster who helps in the farm shop (see below).

Mid morning we were joined by Elaine and Bryan, two of our most vaued board members, and they sat in the top room allocating share numbers and processing Interest Free Loan applications.

Slightly later we were joined by Hayley from a nearby village who has been helping to input share data on to the database.

By late afternoon we had been joined by courier John who slips into the office in between drop offs in the area (not sure if his boss knows about this though!). He stuffed envelopes with shares and filed away applications.

This evening we have been joined with Andrew from Stoke, who has been helping in the garden; Charlotte from Wolverhampton who comes every weeekend to help process shares on the database, and Sean from Stoke who processes all our paypal applications.

Amongst all of this Sophie and I are taking phone calls, answering emails, signing certificates, and sorting out all the queries and questions in the office to make sure that all the volunteers are happy

Guys - we could not do this without you...

Money raised - how much and will we do it?
Well, Rob has spent over 8 hours opening the post today. Our Postman dave has to bring a sack to Fordhall for all our letters and today has been a record 167!

To date we are up to about £710,500, after receiving £40,000 in one day. If this carries on we will make the deadline no problem.

However, do not forget that a majority of the money raised is through a Bank Loan of £200,000. Although the Fordhall Community Land Initiative could pay this back, it does not want any unneccessary pressure. Once we secure the farm we need available funds to continue with the adminstration costs (currently covered with an EU Leader + grant) and to be able to seek further funding for the Bunk House and educational resource rooms. So, please do keep the applications coming. All of your support is valued more than you know and your letters really keeps the spirit in the office sprightly as volunteers work 16 hour days to make sure everything is up to date.

Other News
We are in todays Farmers Guardian, and this weeks Market Drayton Advertiser, not to mention Telford FM today and BBC Radio Shropshire - who I must say have done us proud. Not only have we been repeated throughout the day on BBC Radio Shropshire, but they are doing an audio diary for the campaign throughout next week. You can follow this on the BBC Shropshire website if you are not local.

We have been amazingly lucky with all the press recently and it has really made the campaign. Please do keep telling anyone and everyone.

It would be sending out such an important message if we can raise the full amount without Bank Loans and without Grants, simply through the power of lots of small people getting together and fighting for a common goal.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Festival Begins...

Hi, its Ben here again, thanks to a few good comments about my first blog i decided to do another update.

Today is the start of the "Play Festival" at Fordhall, this is a performing arts festival combined with great music. The Festival is running from Thusday until Sunday evening and has been jointly organised with 'Play'. Many people arrived today and set up camp for the weekend, everyone seems very interested in what we are doing. I have had offers of more fund raising events in the future and some of the festival goers have even offered to take leaflets and posters home with them to distribute in their home towns, these vary from Chidock in Dorset to Cambridge, and Preston. Its great we've got loads of mini campaigns going on all over the country (what have we started??)

More pig problems!!
At about 9:30pm Sym (one of the festival organisers) came running to the office window to inform us that there was one of our Tamworth pigs trying to attend the festival. "Yes" another escapee. The little Tamworth had discovered that the electric fence battery was flat and he could crawl under the wire without getting shocked (why do they have to be so clever??).

I seem to have spent most of the past two days in the butchery packing burgers and sausages. We are supplying all the food for the festival this weekend so I've had to make over 600 burgers and pack 1000 sausages and 1000 rashers of bacon, I never thought I'd see the day when I couldn't eat a bacon butty for supper.

Campaign update.
Today was another great day for contributions with 157 letters through the post, its great to receive so much post, but gosh they take a lot of work to process and file, as I'm sure Rob will gladly tell you. The total is gradually creeping up and with all the recent publicity we are keeping the momentum going. I actually got asked to have my photo taken with somone the other day, Im sure they thought i was somone else!

With only 8 more days to go it's getting very tense in the office, but it's great too see everyone pulling together to give the campaign this last push.

Current Total £670,000
8 days to go...
Shareholders: 3,701

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ben and barry's Farm Update (Barry the Hereford bull)

Hi everyone, believe it or not this is my first post on the blog, so please forgive me if it is not as exciting as Charlotte's and Sophie's.

Today has been a manic day to say the least. The new Berkshire pig and 11 piglets escaped from their paddock and were found roaming the fields terrorising the chickens. Thankfully our newest volunteer (Ashley from the Grove School) arrived early at 6:30am, so was on hand to help catch them. With the pigs caught and the chickens fed we stopped for a coffee. Then Dave the postman arrived with a big grin on his face, this was due to our biggest pile of post so far in the campaign. There was a whoppping 151 contributions, which took Rob (another new volunteer in the office) most of the day to open and process.

ITV arrived at 10 am to film for Central News, and stayed for just over two hours and were really enthused by what was being achieved here. I think they are hooked and would like to follow the story for the next few months. The news piece they filmed was aired this evening at 6:15, and saw a sudden rush of the phone lines as prospective share holders called for more information. Apparently it has just been on after the football as well...!

Following the filming by ITV we had a visit today from Fred who is a African farmer who has had support from Harvest Help (one of our nominated charities for money to be donated in the event we fail). Charlotte gave him a tour of the farm while being photographed by the Shropshire Star. Fred farms in Africa, and produces enough produce to feed his family and to sell to other local people. He operates an organic farming system and was interested in the similarities between his farming system and ours.

When Fred left it was time for Ashley and I to grab a quick lunch before the vet arrived for our annual TB test. We fetched all the cattle from around the farm and everything went smoothly (its not very often this happens). Charlotte, very cunningly came out of the office just as we finished. The vet must now come back on Friday to check all the cows have passed. I will let you know how we get on.

With all the cows returned to their pasture, Ashley and I gave some time to help unload equipment for the Play Festival we are hosting at the farm this weekend. This is a performing arts festival running from Thursday to Monday and should help to raise some funds for the land purchase.

I apologise if this post was slightly long winded, I'll maybe get more efficient at it in time.

Ben Hollins

Total raised to date: £620,250
Share holders to date: 3533

Monday, June 19, 2006

Meeting the Volunteers, by Marie-anne

Ok so I havent done one of these before so you'll have to excuse me if this entry isn't as full as the ones which Charlotte or Sophie give! However as somebody that isn't a permanent resident here, I think it'll be good to hear about the farm from my perspective.

My names Marie-Anne (23) and I'm a friend of Sophies, so shes the reason that I got to hear about the farm. But it changes rapidly from being something that interests you because a friend is involved to something that you desperately want to see succeed, and more than anything the fantastic atmosphere and people that you meet makes you come back for more - so much so that I have taken a week off from work and am now living here to help out.

As we are so close to the deadline at the moment, the office is rarely quiet. There is always something to be done from stuffing and stamping envelopes to a never-ending list of phone calls and e-mails to write. We would like to say a HUGE thank you to everybody for all the donations and shares that have been coming in from all areas of the country, its fantastic to see so many people so determined to see such a good thing succeed. A big help has been the article in the Telegraph which came out on Saturday for which we have had a really fantastic response. We have ITV coming in the morning (and no doubt Sophie will be trying her best to hide behind the cameras!). This is to be shown on June 20th, so please catch it if you can.

We are also really looking forward to welcoming Fred Muchindu, a Zambian farmer coming to visit the farm from Harvest Help, a Shropshire based charity who work with African farmers to increase their knowledge and experience of sustainable farming techniques. This is so great for us as a lot of what we aim to do is continue education in all directions, and it gives us a chance to hear about how farming is done in other countries.

There is also a further article coming out in The Guardian on Wednesday and the Farmers Guardian on Friday, again the more people that are aware of our fight, the better!

So, why Fordhall? As a volunteer I have had the unique experience of Fordhall in all its glory. It really is an Oasis in a world of development and so unique that the thought of ever losing it seems so unjustified. If you are in the same position as me, you will know what is so special about it. If not, all I can do is encourage you to come here and experience it for yourself (and the meat in the farm shop is the best I have ever tasted!)

I grew up in the country and lived here until I was 18 and yet the first time I had ever touched or fed a pig was here, I'd certainly never seen a calf being born and never had a picnic surrounded by so many farm animals and such natural beauty. If a girl from the country hasn't had these experiences before Fordhall, surely people from urban areas have even less of a chance! But thats what Fordhall is, a chance to see all of that an so much more, and I dont want to see that go to waste. And thats why I bought two shares. Everything makes a difference and together we can save it! So to everybody thats invested in Fordhall, a big thank you. To everybody thats considering it, hopefully my posting has shown why it means so much to me, and that you can be a part of it too!

Current Total: £601,050 and 11 days to go

Friday, June 16, 2006

UPDATE - 15 days to go... by Charlotte

Where are we?
Wow. What an amazing rollercoaster this campaign has been. After starting with a vision back in 2004, but having no money and no real idea of how we were going to achieve anything, this project has grown from very small seeds.

And now, after being incorporated only for a little over 6 months we have been able to raise over half a million pounds!! But the fight is not over yet, and we still have about a Quarter of a Million to go...

By Placing Fordhall into community ownership we are showing a united support for farming in this country which works in harmony with nature and our landscape. We are working to reconnect people and children to the world around them and to the food that they eat.

Everyday we are being completely inspired by the support and enthusiasm of all of you. You provide us and all the dedicated volunteers the energy to keep going. It is because of all of you that this project will succeed.

Funds Raised to date from your support
Shares:- £315,500
Interest Free Loans:- £15,000
Donations £25,000
Triodos Loan:- £200,000
Unopened post - about 100 letters over 2 days £????
TOTAL:- £555,500

Grants are unsuccessful:
We were waiting to hear back from GrantScape about our final grant. This was for £450,000 towards the land purchase through a Land Fill Tax Grant. Unfortunately, we found out this morning that it has been declined.
Upcoming Press should provide the final boost:
Saturday Telegraph - June 17th, Weekend Supplement
The Guardian - June 21st, Society Section
Birmingham Post - June 20th
Country Living - June issue
The Ecologist Magazine - This month
and more TV......
Other News:
School Visits
This week has been absolutely crazy and we apologise for not updating this as much as we could do. Yesterday Sophie and i gave our first school visit to Ellison Primary in Stoke, and as you can see the children loved it. We took in a variety of Fordhall grasses and some bugs from the soil. They were able to see how it was the variety of life in the soil that all worked together to provide the variety of grasses on the top, which then provided the balanced diet for our cows and sheep.
Shrewsbury Market
Both Ben and Sophie attended a small farmers market in the centre of Shrewsbury today. After leaving the farm at 7am to go and set up, they were both extremely tired; the weeks late nights trying to catch up on share certificates and cheques is catching up on us all. But they did well and were welcomed by the shoppers as soon as people saw the Fordhall sign. They have just left again to go to the Newport Evening Street Market, to promote the project and the campaign.
Telford 'Business Referral Organisation'
This morning I was invited to a networking meeting by Ben Coates at Telford FM and I was welcomed with open arms so thank you to everyone there. I arrived at 6.45am and mornings are certainly not my thing, but everyone was very polite and very interested in our fight to save Fordhall Farm. I would like to pass on a huge thanks to Telford FM for all their support and continued coverage and to David Dowell, of Total Maintenance in Telford for sponsoring my breakfast.
Office Help
We have been determined to catch up on the back log of certificates this week and have called upon all resources. Both Sophie and I would like to pass on our sincere thanks to all those who have helped in the office this week - Steve, Jamie, Lauren, Hayley, Dave, Rob, Annie, Lenny, Ineka, Tessa, Lisa, Holly, Helen, Jack, Dave, George, Alec, Lesley, Ben, Joena, Elizabeth, Elaine, Bryan, Charlotte, Andrew, Sean and Ashley - we could not do it without you...
We are just about up to date and we have tun out of certificates so please bare with us as we wait for more to come back from the printers, our very kind and generous District Council - who I might add have been generous enough to send out all 2500 of your newsletters for free.
We are close to getting up to date with the share applications, but please be warned. If you are only buying your shares now, you may not recieve the certificate before the deadline as our priority is to get the money in the bank. We plan to email a receipt when we recieve your cheque. If you are unsure if we have recieved your application then please do let us know.
NB If you purchased your share online around the 21st May you may recieve an email asking to resend you contact details - we had an accident with the computers and have all your payments but no details to go with them.
The LAST TWO WEEKS...............
Talk about nail biting... We are now looking towards some serious fundraising and are asking for Interest Free Loans if people are unsure whether to purchase shares or make a donation. These are repayable after 5 years, completely interest free, but with complete assurance that you will recieve your money back and in the meantime it is going to a good cause.
Thank You for your continued support

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Office Mayhem

Thanks to all of your continued response from both new and existing shareholders. We have had to gather more volunteers in the office; today alone we had ten different people helping to file, write certificates, plug information into the database, stuff letters, allocate share numbers, and sort out queries, to name just a few. In fact we had two volunteers who spent the whole day just opening the post and checking the cheques were correct.

Sophie and Charlotte pass on an enormous thank you to everyone who has spared the time to help process the mound of paperwork we are receiving. But, this is exactly what the campaign needs in its last few weeks for the final push. The momentum is there and it just needs to keep going.

We are trying to get certificates out to you as soon as possible, but we do apologise as we are about a week behind. However, if you have already applied for a certificate (pre May 29th) and you have not received your certificate please do give us a call and we will do our best to locate it for you. Any purchased after this date are currently working their way through the system.

Please do continue to spread the word and also speak to as many wealthy individuals as you can, you never know who may be interested in offering a sizeable interest free loan for a good cause? And this campaign has come just too far for it to fail at the last hurdle - it has too much potential..

Warmest Wishes and Many Thanks to you all

£550,000 Raised so far -this is an estimate as we still have a few days post to open :-)
£250,000 left to raise

Monday, June 12, 2006

Family Fun Day brings in £16,000

Our Family Fun Day yesterday brought in an amazing number of people from all over the country. All coming to enjoy Fordhall and all it has to offer. It was also a great opportunity to meet and greet all of our supporters. Sophie and Ben did a fantastic job with organising the event. It not only provided an enjoyable event for people but it also served to raise funds for our fight. We were able to raise an amazing £16,000 towards the purchase of Fordhall Farm by the community.

We could not believe how far people had travelled simply to visit Fordhall - it was breathtaking. So many from Sussex, Suffolk, Essex, andYorkshire areas. We could not have asked for more.

We must pass on to a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped over the weekend. We could not have done it without them. Also thanks to Sign and Poster in Shrewsbury, who sponsored our banners, to Riverside Press in Market Drayton who sponsored our flyers (and assisted with our Newsletters), to Local Feast in Oswestry for Sponsorship of the stalls, and to Awards for All (from the National Lottery) for all their help with overheads for the event.

More information on this and future events can be found at

Current Total £545,000

19 days to go...

£255,000 left to raise

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Summer Fair Rendez-Vous

It is 5.07am. Charlotte, Ben and Sophie (me) started their Family Fun Day meeting just after 12 and have thrashed through most of the planning. It is all coming together superbly well and its set to be a fantastic day packed full of games, activities and entertainment for the whole family. We are all really pleased and very excited. Compared to last year the the change has been enormous, so much so that we are questioning how we ever managed to pull it off?!

After Charlotte went to bed, Ben and I went outside to herd the sheep wandering around in front of the window, back into the field and did a bit of filming for Inside Out. We then visited the pigs and I said hello to our newest residents - 12 Berkshire and 5 Tamworth pigs. They were incredably friendly and sociable so early in the morning.

We are now about to wake everyone else up to listen to this mornings Farming Today on Radio 4 as they have recorded an interview with Charlotte and Ben... and then the next day begins...!

Don't miss out on The Family Fun Day (11-4pm). Come and see for yourself just how fantastic Fordhall Farm is. See you there!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Forum - Where campaigners meet

We now have a new Fordhall Forum. This allows all of you to meet and exchange ideas for fundraising and increasing awareness of our campaign.

There is so much going on here that we simply can not act on every good idea that comes into the office. Please help us by joining together to create fundraising ideas.

And please do not forget to forward on the website or the following link to all your friends.

The Fordhall Forum can be found by CLICKING HERE
£505,000 raised so far (including £200,000 bank loan)
30 Days to go...
£295,000 minimum still to raise