Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Contracts and detail!

We have recently had a meeting with Iain Morrison from MFG Solicitors who has very generously agreed to work on the land purchase agreement between the Initiative and the landowners free of charge.

This detail is paramount to the success of the project. Legal matters are not our strong point by any means, but we are learning all the time and the input from such specialists is essential.

We must offer them a huge thanks for agreeing to do this.

It again demonstrates the interest and support the Fordhall Community Land Initiative continues to recieve and it is this continued support, generousity and commitment that will see the project as a success.

Thank You Iain and everyone at MFG.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bright Sunny Morning

Thank you to everyone who have sent messages of support - its always difficult to know if anyone reads blogsites but apparently they do! So, we will continue to post the campagin 'story' so you can all be involved.

It's a beautiful sunny day here at Fordhall if not a little on the nippy side. We now have over 20 lambs (the latest twins born 1 hour ago) and there is a real buzz in the air. Later today Charlotte and myself are off to move tables around a hall, trying to calculate exactly how many people we can squeeze into our charity dinner in May...but more on that later!

Keep up the campagining. This is a team effort. If anyone would like us to send them leaflets please let us know and we can easily send out stuff. Likewise, if there are any sympathetic shops we will send a poster. Thanks everyone.

Friday, January 27, 2006

BBC News on the case...

Jane and Pete from BBC Breakfast News paid us a visit on wednesday. They are doing a five part piece for BBC Breakfast looking at people who are trying to change things and Fordhall was top of their list!

They stayed all afternoon filming in the bitter cold around the Fordhall landscape. We hope the new exposure will help to turn all the support we have so far gathered into the cash we need to allow Fordhall to be saved and for the project to succeed.

The 3 minute piece will be aired on BBC One the week beginning February 27th, but we are not sure which day of the week it will be shown as yet.

Keep your eye on this page for updates; and tell all your friends and collegues...

Account Eventually Open!

The Fordhall Community Bank Account is eventually open!

The trial and tribulations with having a new and innovative society are solved and we can now move forward. This is with huge thanks for all the effort put in by Karen Hamer at Barclays and Mervyn Davies from Howsons Accountants. Both of whom worked effortlessly to sort out the paperwork - thank you.

This means we will be banking cheques on monday 30th Jan. If there are any problems or concerns about banking your cheque please do let us know as soon as possible. You can either email on project@fordhallfarm.com, or call us on 01630 638696 (we will check this line over the weekend).

Many thanks to all for your continued patience with this matter.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Meeting the Conservatives, By Charlotte

On Thursday 19th January whilst Ben was in the Farm Shop and Sophie was busy in the Office, I attended at talk given by the Conservative Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, James Paice. The talk was entitled "A Conservative Vision for British Agriculture".

Mr Paice spoke about the importance of reconnecting people to where their food comes from. He said that this was the only way British farming would be secured!

I'm not a particularly political person, so long as they are saying the right things and then following them up with matching actions I am happy. So I have given Mr Paice the opportunity to do just this and to help a project that wants to achieve that reconnection.

Our project has reached so far across the UK now that it could work as a powerful example for others to follow. Allowing the everyday person to become reconnected once again to food production in a way that does not neccessarily mean moving out to the country and getting up at 5am to milk the cows!

I left him with a letter and some details of our project - we'll see if we get a reply......

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cheque Mate - by Sophie

The bain of our lives - banking cheques. Little did we know when deciding which bank to go with back in October that we would still, 4 months later, be waiting for details to be finalised here and there amongst the powers that be. Because we are a new structure there has been a delay as they try to establish the ins and outs of this new 'thing'. We are trying our best to ensure the situation is remedied as quickly as possible, including phoning daily and making a nuiscence of ourselves. We cant apologise enough for any inconvenience this may have caused.

We have been assured (again) that the bank account will be open within the next week and we plan to cash cheques immediately. As soon as the account is live we will let you know via this website, so if there are any problems you can contact us.

Our main concern was to get the certificates out before Christmas as many were for presents. We also wanted to say a big 'thank you' to all our shareholders for their patience. If you have any concerns about what is happening please call us and we will do our best to explain. But otherwise, fingers crossed, the final pieces are moving into place.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Finger on the Pulse - by Sophie

As the mammoth figure of £800,000 looms on the horizon, we at Fordhall continue to take things within our stride and confidently jump from challenge to challenge - always focusing on that 'final' goal. But what people don't realise, is that purchasing the land is not the end of it. We would like to be in a position to begin work as soon as the Iniaitive owns the land, and for the links that we are formulating now with other organisations to be so strong that the development (in the loosest sense of the word) of the Iniaitive happens organically, per say.

We have been given this amazing opportuntiy of first refusal on land providing that we have raised the amount by 1st of July. This is pretty much entirely down to the overwhelming support we have had from everyone, near and far. People have been so encouraging and as equally as enthusiastic as ourselves - it is this pounding energy which has kept our wheels turning! However, crunch time is nearing and it takes different skills to turn compassion into cash - these are skills which we need to learn and practice. A bit of inside knowledge - be prepared for the big appeal to begin end of April - take this opportunity to pre-empt us and tell at least 2 others about this amazing and groundbreaking project. It is the chance to take action on important issues and to make an example for others to follow.

Finance so far -
We have raised £30,000 through the sale of £50 shares alone. We have received a £35,000 grant from Leader Plus to fund a Project Manager position (myself) and to contribute towards administration costs, and we are also in the process of gathering funding for the business plan through DEFRA. On top of this, Shropshire Wildlife Trust are following up grants, with a current application going through Tubney Trust. We are also combing through piles of grants and working on the most applicable.

We have received smaller pots of funding such as via Sustainable Aggregates Levy - £3,000 to plant trees and establish a link with BTCV.

Fordhall is one of the oldest organic farms in the country, and it has the potential to serve as an invaluable asset for our future and for that of future generations. Representing issues such as organics, farming heritage, wildlife and biodiversity, sustainability, education, culture, involvement, and health, the project strikes many cords. And at the heart of all this are young people with a determination and passion.

However, this project will only succeed if we can gather the finance to purchase the farm and this is still an important message to spread.

A huge amount of awareness and public support has been gathered through 2005, but this now needs to be turned into cash or it will mean nothing.

What significant support have we already received?
Ø Over 275 shareholders reaching across the globe
Ø Endorsements and a visit agreed from Prunella Scales
Ø A £2000 donation from Sting
Ø Huge support and endorsements from Chris Baines (urban conservationist and BBC presenter)
Ø Support from the HRH Prince of Wales, Patrick Holden (Soil Association), Peter Kindersley (Sheepdrove organic farm), Jonathon Porritt, and Monty Don.

How can you help?
Ø We need you to tell as many people as possible about our campaign, even if you only get them to visit the website, it all increases awareness and interest.
Ø We need to write letters to the many wealthy citizens who may could be interested in supporting this campagin – do you know any? Can you forward their contact details or pass on a package for us? (we can put it together and send it to you)
Ø Do you know of a business that may want to sponsor the cause or offer a gift in return for the press coverage
Ø You may know a wealthy person interested in the cause who may like to offer an interest free loan
Ø Alternatively, you may know someone who is simply very well connected and who is a useful person to be aware of our campaign.

This all helps and is invaluable to our campaign so please do pass on names, contacts or ask us to send you some information that you can then pass on for us. But don’t forget there are only two of us in the office full time so the more you can do the better - it is an amazing thing being able to inspire others. Try it.

One of the most significant things that we have learnt over the past year is: It's not What you know, its Who you know. Can you help?

Keep checking the events page on the website for the programme of activities at the farm.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Soil Association Conference 5th and 6th January 2006, By Charlotte

Ben and I were asked to speak at this years national Annual Soil Association Conference. We spoke in the workshop “The Next Generation – Attracting the Young into Farming”.

This was the first public talk Ben had done with regards to the project, but understandably we were both nervous. However, it went fantastically well and we had a great response afterwards. Many were inspired by the plans we have for Fordhall and by all the support we have already received.

We were able to meet many great contacts who will now follow us through the campaign. Names such as Jonathan Porritt, Monty Don and Peter Kindersley (Sheepdrove Organic Farm) were among the people we met and discussed the project with.

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, even remarked to us after our speech that our story had brought a tear to his eye!

We had never imagined the conference would have such an impact! The hope now is that the Soil Association will continue their support through the media by helping us to create awareness of the project.

Sophie, Ben and I made the most of this fantastic networking opportunity, we spoke to the BBC, Farmers Weekly and the Farmers Guardian among others. We also quite sneakily put a share application on the seat of every person in the conference! – well you have got to make the most of every opportunity, and many of these applications have now been returned to us with cheques (the largest so far being £1000)

Thank You Soil Association. We look forward to next year.