Sunday, May 28, 2006

Festivals and Carnivals

Its been a busy couple of days all round.

Sophie went to the Ludlow Green Festival on Sunday to promote the campaign and Ben was at Greenfields Food Fair in Telford. Both had a great response over the weekend, and many signatures on our petition of support were gathered; as well as a few shares of course...

Then on Bank Holiday Monday we took part in the Market Drayton Carnival. We joined in with our newest shareholder Steve, his family and his Steam Engine, Lady Hesketh. Through the parade we gave out leaflets and collected donations.

With all the press we have had both nationally and locally, it is amazing how so many people in the local town are still unaware of what we are doing. Hopefully this day proved to increase awareness of Fordhall Farm, its current situation and of course to the benefits it has to the local area and beyond. We pass on a huge thanks to all the volunteers who helped us on the day.

2225 Shareholders
£490,000 raised so far (including £200,000 loan from Triodos Bank)
34 days to raise £310,000 and counting...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Can You Save Fordhall Farm?

We are always receiving copies of emails in the office which have been circulated by supporters to all their friends.

As a result we have created a short video introduction to Fordhall Farm.

Time is getting tight and all we can do is tell people about our project. This has only one chance to succeed. We will work as hard as we possibly can to ensure its success, but it will only succeed with your help.

Lets save Fordhall Farm from development and allow it to be owned by YOU; its shareholders. Non profit making, but surely a life time share in our traditional English countryside is a priceless asset.

Please forward this video link to all your friends or contacts.


  • £284,000 raised so far
  • £200,000 Loan has been approved by Triodos Bank for 25 years at 1.5% above base.
  • Still waiting to hear on a £450,000 grant from GrantScape
  • Grant from Garfield Western Foundation has been declined
  • Guided Walk Days coming up on 4th and 14th June at Fordhall - need to be booked in advanced.
  • Our Family Fun Day at Fordhall is on Sunday June 11th.

35 days to go

and ....

£516,000 still to raise (not including Tridos offer)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thank You Country Living and Radio 2

We would like to pass on our sincere thanks to BBC Radio 2 for their piece on the Johnnie Walker Show and for Country Living Magazine and their amazing spread in their June issue.

We have had amazing response from both, which have so far raised over £10,000 towards our target and this is increasing everyday.

There are further stories in this months County and Border Life Magazine (local), and the upcoming CPRE Newsletter.

After the enormous success of our last guided walks we have arranged two more.

These will be on Sunday 4th June and Wednesday 14th June both from 2pm-4pm.

There will be three guided walks and talks on each day with afternoon tea in the 16th century farm house garden afterwards. This is your opportunity to find out more about Fordhall, to see its beauty for yourself and to ask us any questions you may have.

But, walks need to be booked in advance so please do call the farm office on 01630 638696.

Total so far £280,000
2155 Shareholders from across the country

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Learning from Others - The Welsh Success

Yesterday Ben and I travelled to North Wales to visit Moelyci Farm. Filmed as part of an BBC Inside Out update programme (due to be aired in September) we went to see how a community owned farm was working in practice.

Della Fazey one of the founders of Moelyci (standing next to Ben in the picture below) welcomed us with open arms.

They had to fight to save the farms a few years to ago, when the resident farmer could no longer afford to live off the land. They needed £400,000 and decided to place the land into community ownership.

Like us, they are an Industrial and Provident Society, and their land is owned by the local community - its 400 shareholders.

Moelyci Farm is focussed on environmental education and of providing a community space. A large part of their land is used as allotment space and the rest leased for grazing or used for environmental benefit. It has a huge sense of community involvement and runs a scheme to help the unemployed gain new skills.

Fordhall's focus is more on farming and providing a working resource for education on food, farming and nature.

Just imagine if every child and family had a share in their local farm - this is the ultimate reconnection for those who do not have the desire or the opportunity to work the land or to have their own vegetable garden.

In addition it solves one of the largest barriers to entry to new and young entrants to farming. With land prices so fixed on their potential hope value, it is virtually impossible for any person to enter the industry without a huge amount of financial backing.

When we began this project, as farmers, we did not think that anyone cared about farming, the environment or food. And even if they did, that they certainly did not care enough about it to put their hands in their pockets.

However, we could not have been proven more wrong. We now have over 2100 shareholders from across the country who believe in this project and who as a result have jumped at the chance to put their money where their mouth is. You have raised between yourselves £275,000 towards our £800,000 target!

Every day we are receiving phone calls from people so passionate about our plight. It seems to have given people the opportunity to act on something that they really believe in but had previously not known what they could do to make a difference, and for us this is inspiring.

We have 37 days left to raise the remaining £530,000 to SAVE Fordhall Farm and to have the opportunity to put this amazing resource into community ownership. Not only as a valuable resource to schools, farmers and the community, but as a shining example of how farming can survive with the help of people; and importantly for people to show how important they believe the future of farming in this country to be.

We must pass on our sincere thanks to all at Moelyci for their time, and also for showing us that these projects can be successful and can work on a long term basis.

For more information on Moelyci Farm go to

Or for more information on how YOU can Save Fordhall see

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Thank You for Spreading the word!

I recently did a search on google for Fordhall Farm and the pages have grown enormously.

A big part of that is because of YOU. Whether you have written your own articles or posted our campaign on your website the word is spreading.

The most recent examples are:

And some recent notes of support. They really are appreciated and really keep us going when we are working late in the office. It is this continued and passionate support which is making the project a success.
Thanks to everyone there for a lovely day on Sunday 14th May on the Guided Walks, and I hope it brought you lots of new shareholders. In particular could you say thank you to the gentleman on the carpark gate who put up with my lad
Callum who kept asking him about the pigs he's taken all the information away and has wowed his teacher with it today!

Best wishes
The Ashby's

I have read about your farm in this month's edition of Country Living magazine
and looked at your website. I am sorry to hear about all the trouble you have
had, but think that the shares scheme is a wonderful idea. I have down loaded a
form and will be sending the money for my share shortly. We hope to attend your
family fun day and my husband and myself will help you with and decorating or
odd jobs that need doing when we
have some time off work-I will e-mail you
first. We hope to have an organic small holding (fruit & veg mainly) when we
move in a few years time, so it will be interesting to see how an organic farm
is run, and perhaps learn a thing or two! Keep up the good work and best wishes
for the future.

Ms. Miller


Support is growing everyday for Fordhall and we want to hear about it. It really keeps us going and the easiest way for you to do that is to post comments on this Blog, and make sure if you have advertised the project online you include your link.

With approx £275,000 in the Bank we are getting ever closer but we still have half a million to raise in 40 days....

We can achieve this with your help

Sunday, May 21, 2006

£270,000 and the word is out!

Our target is getting ever closer, but we need to keep telling people for it to succeed.

On Thursday Ben and I (charlotte) were invited to London Capital Studios for a shoot for the Sky 'Food Uncut' programme.

Series Producer, Elaine Bancroft, saw the previous article in the Telegraph and wanted to help the campaign. The programme will be aired on Monday 22nd May (not sure of the time) on the UK Food Channel. We must pass on our sincere thanks to Elaine for inviting us on to the programme.

It was the first time Ben and I had entered a Studio to be filmed and it was certainly an experience - even Ben had to have his make-up done :-)

When we returned home there was a call from Christopher Hope, the Business Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. He wanted to write an update on the campaign for Mondays paper (22nd May). A big thank you to Chris for doing this. He has been a big advocate of the campaign since he wrote an article last August, from which we still get enquiries!

Other Updates
  • 1951 shareholders across the globe
  • £270,000 funds raised towards the £800,000
  • We were on the Johnnie Walker BBC Radio 2 show this evening which has so far raised £8000!
  • Our grant to Garfield Western Foundation has been declined, we still have to hear from GrantScape
  • The Business Plan is now complete if anyone would like to see it
  • A prospectus is being drawn up for Interest Free Loans.

For other ways you can help to spread the word see our How Can You Help Pages and scroll down to print posters or leaflets.

Friday, May 19, 2006

David Bellamy - "Fordhall Must be saved!"

On Tuesday mum and I attended a talk given by Professor David Bellamy organised by the Shrewsbury Horticultural Society.

It was extremely interesting to hear David talk about his travels and experiences and of course his love for nature.

He also touched upon the importance of farming the landscape in balance with nature - the only way that farming will continue long term.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to David after his talk and asked for his advice for our campaign.

After explaining the situation, his first words were "Fordhall has to be saved"

He already had a copy of our late fathers book "The Farmer the Plough and the Devil" and had heard about our long fight. He even entered dads cultivating machine (the CulturSeeder) in a competition some years ago which won an award from the Conservation Foundation for his innovation in agricultural sustainability.

I left David with some information on the project and we will hopefully see him at Fordhall in the near future.

We are learning more and more that it is who you know and not so much what you know in life. We have a tight deadline to save Fordhall and only one chance to do this in.

If you know anyone who you think may be useful for our campaign please do let us know, or put them in contact with the Farm..... you never know where it may lead.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Prunella Scales buys latest share!

Prunella Scales who played Sybil in Fawlty Towers lent her support for the Fordhall Campaign this week (Monday). She came to Shropshire to perform an evening with Queen Victoria at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle and kindly offered to speak to the audience after the performance about our fight to save Fordhall. In addition the lucky guests were offered a signed share certificate if they bought their share that evening!!! - we raised £750 through shares and £105 through donations so all in all a successful evening.

Then on Tuesday Prunella visited Fordhall. We took her on a guided walk of the farm and she really seemed to enjoy it. Making the most of the opportunity to raise awareness of the campaign, we invited our local Shropshire TV and Shropshire Star, who all covered the story exceptionally well.

We must pass on an enormous thank you to the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle under Lyme for allowing us to talk to the audience about our campaign, and then to the Borough Arms Hotel who provided a room to Ms. Scales at a very reasonable price to the Fordhall Community Land Initiative - we thank you all

The walk around Fordhall was I think informative and interesting for Prunella. As the one time president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, she was particularly interested in keeping Fordhall out of developers hands.
"After growing up in the countryside I appreciate the hard work it takes to
run a farm. What you are doing here is so special and really is an asset to the
area. Farms and our English Countryside are some of our countries most treasured assets and should not be sent for development when they can be used for projects with so much value" said Prunella.

We must leave with a big THANK YOU to Prunella Scales for taking time out of her busy timetable to visit Fordhall and for all her valued support whilst she was here. We welcome her to Fordhall as a shareholder and friend and look forward to welcoming her to the farm again soon.

The campaign moves on.......

p.s. Keep your eye out for us in this months issue of Country Living Magazine. Rachel oakden has written a fantastic article that has already had a great response. Please do keep spreading the word.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Welcome to Fordhall Farm. My name is...

Current and prospective shareholders were invited to Fordhall Farm on Sunday 14th for guided walks around the Nature Trail by Charlotte, Ben and Sophie. These went fantastically and over 60 people arrived - from as far as London and Lancaster. We were really touched that people had made the effort to come and see for themselves why this farm is so special. Everyone left feeling enthused and promising to tell others about the project.

The day was smoothly overseen by some great volunteers who assisted with parking, baking and serving tea and cake in the garden. A number of board members were on hand to answer any questions and assemble the marquee in case of rain!

After the response we received we have decided to set another 2 dates asap so keep your eyes peeled on the events pages on the webiste. A number of visitors have also volunteered themselves to help out at the Family Fun Day on June 11th.

The latest total is £255,000!
Keep it coming folks - it all adds up

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Charlotte

Happy Birthday to Charlotte today.

Twenty-four years of running around, trying to fit in 40 hours into every day.

Well done for keeping up the energy!

From all at Fordhall x

ps. Maybe you'll get a day off next year?!

Hardgraft Takes Fordhall By Storm

Fordhall played 'house' to Mark and Dan from the Hardgraft
company on Monday night. The two comedians are walking from Bristol to Bangor without any money and nowhere to sleep. They arrived at Fordhall a night early on Sunday after being let down at the last minute. They were exhausted and worn down but joined us in the office at 1am and listened patiently to the Fordhall story.

Monday brought a day of rest for the guys without any walking, although they were soon in the office helping to catch up with our backlog and stuffing envelopes. Thanks guys - you were great.

Volunteers, Shareholders and others joined together for a stunning performance on Monday night from the pair. The demonstrated perfect comedy timing and imagination, really engaging the audience and coping well with the heavy rain on the barn roof.

We wish you both really well and are looking forward to hearing that you have completed your enterprising challenge. Keep your eyes peeled for these characters in Nottingham, Upton Cross, Sleaford and Boston. A great night out.

Other news - so far £250,000! We have almost caught up on share applications. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding. We really apologise for the delay since recent press coverage, although the response just proves there is tremendous support out there.

Also - We are doing Guided Walks around the farm on Sunday 14th May 1-4pm. Places need booking in advance and are limited. To reserve a place phone 01630 638696 or email

Sunday, May 07, 2006

£215,000 in the Bank... £585,000 to go..

So we are almost a quarter of the way there. The money is coming in steadily. We need to keep up this momentum.

Please do contact us if you have a box scheme, or local society who are willing to distribute leaflets on our behalf. There is limited time and we have limited resources at the office. We need your help to reach everyone interested in buying part of Fordhall forever, whether it be for themselves or grand children - they are investing in the future. Just let us know how many leaflets you want and where to send them, its that easy.

Charlotte spoke to the Shropshire Federation of the Civic Society today and they took 1000 to distribute to their members! More were then handed out to the Shropshire Organic Gardeners after a walk and talk around Fordhall. Can your group beat this?

The Hampshire group of CPRE have so far had the best response from the leaflets raising £4,000 towards the campaign.

Dont be out done - join in and see what a difference you can make.

Posters can also be downloaded from the 'How Can You Help' pages on our website

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Theatre comes to Fordhall

Another reminder to all of you at a loose end this coming Monday. We have the Hardgraft Theatre company coming to Fordhall on Monday 8th May at 7.30pm.

This comprises of two comedy actors Mark Whiteley and Dan Hoffmann-Gill. On the 1st May they have embarked upon their most adventurous project so far. They are walking from North Wales to the Lincolnshire coast performing each evening in a new venue.

To make it even tougher, they have no money, nowhere to sleep and no idea where their adventures will take them!

Join them on this amazing journey at Fordhall Farm, Market Drayton on Monday.... if they make it this far....

The evening and company is free although donations will be welcomed for Mark and Dan as they continue on their journey - I am not too sure if they know where they are going after Fordhall, so they well be looking for a venue near you?

Project Update:
We have so far raised £205,000 and have 1402 shareholders from across the country. It is building everyday and the momentum is still up from the Telegraph article over Easter.

We need to keep this momentum going if we are going to reach our £800,000 target by July 1st; we welcome your help. If you would like to help the campaign by putting up a poster, or by placing leaflets in your veg box scheme or community newsletter please do let us know and we can post them out to you.

This is our one and only chance to put Fordhall Farm into community ownership for the benefit of future generations. After being chemical free for over 65 years and with containing a Scheduled Norman Motte and Bailey on site, the farm has to be saved.

Bank Interest
Our business plan is now complete with the skilled help of Ron Makins from Strategia Consulting. This has already been taken to Triodos who seem very keen on the idea, and other banks are being approached. However, the more we can raise through community involvement the higher our chances of success. This is what will really make Fordhall stand out from the rest, and is what puts farmland back into your hands.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The team are coming to meet You!

Over the last week Ben, Sophie and I have been out and about meeting you and spreading the Fordhall message.

We spoke first of all to the Stafford Soil Association Group. This is a local group of organic enthusiasts who wanted to know more about the Fordhall Community Land Initiative. Ben and I described how we had taken over Fordhall back in 2004, in a very run down state, with no livestock and no money. However, what we did have was the energy and determination to make the farm a success and to make it the flourishing people place it once was. We also spoke about our late fathers Foggage outdoor grazing system and why he stopped adding chemicals to the land at Fordhall.

Fordhall has moved on so much since we first took over the tenancy. With over 50 cattle, 123 sheep and 20 pigs our new business, Fordhall Farm Ltd has grown. With everything being sold through the farm shop, we have been able to focus our energies on bringing people back to Fordhall and on creating a new charitable structure, the Fordhall Community Land Initiative.

This was an extremely successful meeting, we were able to sell more shares and more importantly to gather some willing volunteers who then joined us last weekend.

Our next stop was a talk to the Shrewsbury Rotary Club by kind invitation of Mervyn Davies from Howsons Accountants. Mervyn has helped and advised us at the farm since the very beginning. He has been a reliable source of skilled advice for both Ben and I as we have learnt the ins and outs of business through our farm shop.

Sophie and I spoke to the smartly dressed men of the Rotary last Tuesday. We spoke of the benefits of the Fordhall Community Land Initiative to the rural economy and the future of farming; we asked for their support.

Our final talk of the week was to Market Drayton Town Council. We went to ask for their written support for the Fordhall Community Land Initiative. Sophie and I spoke of the benefits to the town both locally and socially. As a draw for tourism to the area and as a resource for the community both in terms of education and culture, the council were in full favour.

They agreed by vote to write a letter of support for the Initiative and one to be sent to the current landowners. We must pass on our thanks for their support, in conjunction to the printing support already offered by North Shropshire District Council and the £20,000 grant towards land purchase offered by Shropshire County Council.

This was a hectic week and with talks in the late evenings we were all exhausted. However, each talk also left us with a new burst of energy and determination. It is the support we recieve each time we meet you that keeps this project going and which will make it the success it deserves to be.

With another 31 letters in the post this morning amounting to £5695.00 we are hitting £195,000. The each piece of support we gather whether it be financial, volunteer or simply vocal helps us to move closer to our £800,000 target. We have raised over half our money in a fourtnight. This pace and support needs to continue if we are to meet our deadline on July 1st.

60 Days to Go....
£605,000 still to raise...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Enjoying the Sunshine at Fordhall

Over 45 volunteers visited the farm over the weekend to do various jobs. From painting to chopping logs and moving bricks. The new picnic area has offically been relocated next to the pigs with a sturdy style and crafted gate. The whole weekend was buzzing with activity and enthusiasm. Volunteers were not only local supporters, enjoying the activities and access to the countryside, but they flocked from Preston, Manchester, London, Essex and beyond.
We were fed beautifully by other volunteers (Lesley and Elaine) who had slaved away to create a feast of delights. A particular congratulations goes to Ben who was commended for his supervising skills by volunteers.

It was the first weekend this year that volunteers had opted to camp. After the sparkling sunshine of Saturday the freshness of Sunday came as a shock to some. But spirits were not dampened as we all gathered around to watch the birth of a calf at 9am and another at 12 - a particular delight for those who had travelled all the way from London and were relishing the opportunity to be in the countryside.

Other news - shares are still coming in. This weekend gave us a chance to catch up and we hope to have all recent applications processed by the end of the week. We would like to apologise for the delay and thank all the volunteers who have given up their time to help us out.

And now for the update: The total amount raised so far is £190,000. We are on a roll!