Sunday, March 26, 2006

Another Cracking Volunteer Working Weekend

March 18-19 brought another productive, fun and rewarding weekend. The biggest achievement of the weekend was planting 450 trees generously donated by Shropshire County Council. Shaun Burkey from himslf came down to supervise the activity and share his expert knowledge on tree care.

Saturday saw 26 volunteers working all around the farm. From chopping logs to varnishing benches to cleaning bricks the farm was a hive of activitity.

Sunday brought 15 volunteers who continued the tree planting, cleared up the garden and did lots of outstanding little jobs. All this work is preparing for the Open Day on 14th May at the farm.

Everyone ate superbly well over the weekend. All food was prepared by volutneers, even those who were unable to attend the weekend themselves. The 'kitchen staff' were amazing as always.

One of the best things about these weekends is introducing new volunteers and shareholders to the old and watching friendships develop. The working weekends are turning into fantastic networking opportunties.

How can you resist the eclectict combination of fresh air, friends and fun as you get the opportunity to to give something back to Fordhall Farm and put your own personal stamp on campagin.

If you are interested in attending the next Working Weekend ring Sophie on 01630 638696 or email

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Farms For You, By Charlotte

Today I attended a LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Farmers meeting at Lower Drayton Farm in Staffordshire.

The day was about helping farmers to provide access to people. How do we involve you?
How do we make the most of our farms in our walks and talks, and how do we make them enjoyable for the visitor.

I came away yet again feeling inspired and encouraged. There were over 20 farmers there from all over the Midlands who have invited the public to their farms and given farm walks and talks and who have all had very positive responses from them.
Harper Adams Students
on a visit to Fordhall in March

It illustrated how people really do want access to farms, they want to learn about them and they want to understand them. Reconnection is more than a government buzz word it is 'needed'!
I would like to say a big thank you to Roly Puzy at LEAF for organising such an important and beneficial course.

By taking Fordhall out of private ownership and by placing it in the hands of the community we are allowing that ultimate connection. We have created the structure and have created the publicity and we are now offering you the opportunity to be involved; at least as involved as you can be without actually doing the farming yourself!

If you would like to own part of Fordhall Farm take a look at our website and read through our project pages.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Progress on Grants

Many people have been asking about our progress regarding grant applications. We have now submitted three applications. The first was to Tubney Trust and this was unfortunately declined, the other two are with Garfield Western Foundation and GrantScape (a Land Fill Tax grant). The application to GrantScape is for £450,000 and the application to Garfield Western is for however much they will fund!

The number of grants available for land purchase are few and far between. There are an abundance of funds available for every other activity we want to do at Fordhall, but not for the actual purchase of the land!

Many supporters have suggested we contact the National Lottery. We have been in contact with both the Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Big Lottery Fund, Reaching Communities, will only fund capital items up to the value of £50,000, and the Heritage Lottery Fund demand a development plan so detailed it would take a minimum of 18months to complete and then a further 6-12 months before we get an answer on the success of the application.

There are however a number of Private Trusts who are much more flexible and do not have as much beauracacy as the Lottery. We need to find these - Can you help?

If you know of any Trusts who will fund land purchase on a project like ours please email us at with their details. To check if we are eligible read through our Project Pages especially the 'What Does It Offer You' Page.

Loans - Business Plan
We are also on track with the Business Plan and in close correspondance with Triodos Bank. This is a back up plan where if there is any shortfall, it can be funded by a favourable loan/mortgage. We have chosen to work with Triodos because of their ethics as a Bank and their keen interest in Community Farm Land Trusts.

But dont forget, we can also take loans from you!

These are Interest Free and are for a minimum of five years. They will provide us with the initial capital to purchase the freehold, whilst other grants are being sourced.

Can you help in this way or any other? See our 'How Can You Help' pages for more information.

New Life at Fordhall

We have had our first calf of the year born at Fordhall this week!

Andy, the young calf, is also Ben's first Pedigree Hereford to be born at the farm. It is the beginnings of a Hereford suckling herd which suits Fordhalls hardy outdoor grazing system (otherwise known as Foggage farming).

Ben says "I chose to rear Herefords at Fordhall like our father had done, because of their hardyness, and light frame. Many of the international breeds such as the Charolais are too heavy for our light soils, and do not fair well outdooors through the winter. The Hereford is a great traditional and native breed, and of course provides great tasting beef after a lifetime on our chemical free pastures"

Anyone able to visit the shop over the next couple of weeks will be able to see Andy in the paddock near the farm shop as Ben keeps a close eye on him in his early weeks.

Looking out of the office window and seeing this new life throughout the year makes us even more determined for this project to succeed. The support is gathering all the time, the farm is moving forward and public awareness is growing. We now have over 400 individual shareholders from all over the country and letters are going out everyday...

Keep your eye on the 'How Can You Help' page on our website for different ways you can support the Fordhall Community Land Initiative.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Its all about who you know

Plans for the Chairty Ball and Family Fun Day are coming along well. Auction prizes currently range from signed books to a tour for four around Highgrove Gardens. Keep them coming! No prizes too big or too small.

Charlotte and Ben gave a tour to 41 students from Harper Adams Agricultural College this week. The students are prospective land agents and are trying to think of creative ways to raise the money. We await their conclusions with great anticipation.

I was in the shop over the weekend and someone suggested that I should ask everyone who supported us for £1 and then we would easily achieve our target. It worked althoughI think if we were to raise the money this way we would need a bigger shop.

I recently attended a Business Forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce to mark International Womens Day. The day brought together successful business women for what was essentially a networking opportunity. It is on occassions like this that we focus on 'its not what you know, its who you know'. Our greatest response is through personal recommendation. We are asking everyone who knows about the Initiative to tell another two people. This doesn't eat into too much of their time but is hughly beneficial to the campagin. What a great excuse to pick up the phone and have a catch-up with that long time best freind.

Get talking!