Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Portacabin Preening

What a great weekend! 40 volunteers from across the country came together over the weekend to help fix and decorate the portacabins. Once again there was a mixture of old and new volutneers and everyone worked hard on their own projects, bringing different skills and experiences to the activities.

It was a weekend of maximum production and the portabins now look fabulous. They are our uniform green and have a lovely kitchen garden outside with drainage systems to collect rainwater and wormery's so we can recyle and reuse any rubbish generated.

We hope to move into the cabins at the end of October once all the electrics have been finshed and the funriture has been moved accross. People keep popping down with added items such as lamps and posters which is fantstic and really helping to peiece the office together.

The weekend combined an introduction talk on permaculutre which engaged everyone in disucssions and shared experiences - we even tried to make our own natural paint! Fordhall Farm is farmed within permacutlures guidelines but we are not very good at passing on a deeper understanding, so our warmest thanks go to Hannah Thorogood for giving up her time to talk to our volunteers and give them that little bit extra to take away.

We hope to introduce different speakers on future weekends if anyone would like to offer their skills? Ideally, it would be about something related to the farm such as wildlife, conservation and so on. The next volunteer weekend is November 4-5 and already people have booked on so act now if you want to join in! Just email project@fordhallfarm.com or phone 01630 638696 and speak to Sophie.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The final stages of buying Fordhall!! by Charlotte

As you will know, we were able to take up the option to buy Fordhall on June 30th this year when, with your inspiring help, we were able to raise the required £800,000.

We signed contracts and paid a deposit, but actual completion is not until this week. The tenancy for Ben and I does not expire until September 29th and so it made sense to exchange deeds on this date. This means that our tenancy will be a simple exchange from the old landlord to the Fordhall Community Land Initiative (all of you!).

The last few weeks have seen a conveyor of emails between the solicitors, the bank and ourselves as we work to ensure everything is in order. The new tanancy agreement, which needs to be in place before we can draw down the mortgage (£100,000) has taken a lot of discussion as it needs to be secure from both sides: the farmer and the Initiative.

At last we think we have a document that will work both now and in 100 years time. This document takes into account the diverse nature of the Fordhall Community Land Initiative and the objectives of the society to create access to affordable land to new and young farmers.

We must pass on huge thanks to Iain Morrison at MFG Solicitors for all his help and Philip Meade from Davis Meade Land Agents - we could not have done it without you. Oops and not forgetting Ian Price at Triodos for his assistance with the mortgage and patience in receiving our paper work!

The last stages are to transfer the remaining funds and to exchange deeds. It is an exciting and surreal time for us all. To even contemplate that Fordhall would be saved by over 7500 people 4 or even 2 years ago was unbelievable, but here we are and you have done it.

The deeds for Fordhall farm now lie with all of you; both Ben and I could not be more grateful. You have provided us with the opportunity to stay in our home and with the resource to provide a living.

We hope that we can use this structure and this support to further these schemes across the country, providing many more opportunities for new and young entrants to farming.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Newsletter Mayham

Finally (!) the next newsletter will be arriving on your doorstep shortly.

We would like to apologise for the delay. There has been an extrodinary number of technical hitches at every corner.

After hours of volunteer time spent stuffing envelopes the vast majority of newsletters have been posted with only a few hundred left to go...

Above - 11.30pm and still slogging away.

A huge thanks needs to go out to all the volunteers who have helped us with this mammonth task and have enabled a quick turn around.

All newsletters will be sent out by the weekend but have a second class stamp so be patient! If you don't receive anything by the end of next week just email us to let us know and we will double-check your contact details.

Right - Ben takes the second load of newsletters to the post offce. We are now on first name terms!

Keep an eye on the website for an update of events in the near future.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ben pods the peas like a champion

Wow - what tension! Charlotte was adab hand in the kitchen but it was Ben who won the nations hearts! Who would have thought? He'll have to find better excuses to aviod the cooking now.
The whole experience was nerve wrecking but fantastic fun.

Someone asked 'Whats next? Your own chat show?' Any ideas?!

We are all staying up late to stuff the 7500 envelopes with the latest newsletter so not long now folks! Don't forget you can always follow upcoming events and news on this blog or via the website www.fordhallfarm.com.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ready Steady Cook

If you missed Ben and Charlotte on Inside Out last Monday then dont fret. They will appear on
Ready Steady Cook this Wednesday at 4.25pm on BBC 2.

Charlotte and Ben travelled to London last month to film for the programme, taking with them their own Fordhall Beef fillet, locally caught and smoked trout and other local and organic produce.

Ben said "it was very nerve racking, but great fun. The chefs were all really supportive and the food was great".

We wont tell you who one - you will have to watch and see.

A Birthday Visit

Dear Charlotte,
I had a great day yesterday, it came as a complete surprise when my wife Kim told me about the purchase of the shares in Fordhall Farm. I spent an hour or so Saturday night reading all the literature and getting up tospeed with your campaign and publicity.

It was really great to see the story come to life, we picked a perfect day to visit, the nature trail was bathed in beautiful sunshine and you could not fail to be moved by the view across the valley. This truely is a special place to breed animals and to let them have a peaceful andfulfilled life.

Thanks again for the time you took with us, it was great to meet Sean whoexplained a lot of the future plans, it was good to see it coming together. It is a shame you are so far away as we would like to visit more frequently as we live near Portsmouth, if you are ever passing please come and see us we will watch your progress on the website.

I am looking forward to tasteing the fruits of your labour, we did buy lamb and pork from the shop. Thanks again I will always remember my 40th Birthday as a special day.

RegardsWayne and Kim

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Shareholders claim the cows

Dear Fordhall Farm,

We, (myself, Catherine, my sister Rachel, my brother Tom, cousin Ewien and Aunty Helen) made it to the farm at last this week and had a great time. We are writing to tell you about our day.

As we were driving in the car we were saying that we expected there not to be much to see yet, but when we arrived we were pleasantly suprised to discover that there was a great deal more than we had imagined.

We began our visit with a walk around the nature trail. After feeding the pigs with armfuls of the windfall apples we ventured down to the river to see if we could see any otters. We didn’t unfortunately. Next we climbed a few trees before strolling on down the riverbank, through the woods, over the castle hill, past the cows and pond, and back to the farm.

After our walk we enjoyed a picnic in the company of the pigs. (We fed them with plenty more windfall apples so they didn’t feel left out of the picnic). Incidentally we also named three: Hamburger, Sausage and Bacon.

Finally, still hungry, we spent our money on treats in the farm shop. - Rachel is still talking about her gingerbread cow. We of course, took home some sausages for tea. We had a great day and would like to let you and the other shareholders know what we decided we had each bought with our shares.

I decided I now own a large black and white cow, which came to sniff me when we were on our walk, and of course, I have bought a pig, my friend Sausage. Rachel decided, “I own a brown and white cow (mostly white), which mooed a lot as I passed by. I named her Thistle. I also have a pig that I have named Bacon."Tom feels that his shares have bought him “ A dragon tree (an old tree shaped like a dragon), a clump of blackberries and a cow called Spotty that was black and white.” Ewein says, “I bought a little brown calf”. And Aunty Helen has decided to own a piece of the beautiful Tern riverbank.

Although Uncle Ian couldn’t be with us for this visit, we like to think he has bought a share of the composting toilet (no offence Uncle Ian).

We trust our spending is acceptable to all you shareholders and we are pleased that so many people have contributed to saving Fordhall Farm and hope that you have as much fun on your visits as we will have on ours.

We are looking forward to the future.

Best wishes to Fordhall Farm, from your supporters;
Catherine 13, Rachel 10 and Thomas 8 - Liverpool, Ewein 4 ½, Helen 20+! - Shropshire.

Share your experiences with others...write in and tell us about your trip to Fordhall Farm