Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Volunteers Go Hedge Laying Mad

Sunday 14th introduced ten new volunteers to the specialised skill of hedge laying. They were all guided by our long-standing volunteer Andrew who used his knowledge and expertise to teach the enthusiastic volunteers. Two other volunteers who had previously attended training weekends were on hand to lead groups as well. A huge thank you must go to everyone invovled in the weekend, not only the volunteers but also the 'team' that ensured it went so smoothly.

There was an excellent atmosphere at the farm with volunteers travelling from York, Southampton and Worcester, as well as locally. Everyone left feeling really excited that they had contributed to the progress of Fordhall Farm whilst learning and practising new skills. They all promised to return with friends and family for future working weekends.

The hedgerow is almost complete along the A53 and is an excellent example of sustainable land management. But do not fret...there are plenty more miles of hedgerow for you all to learn on over the next few years!
Volunteers were so determined they even stayed out in the dark, working by headlights to finish the last few metres. Ultimate dedication. All the valuable work that has been put in over the weekend will be evident for years to come.

We need lots of help for the next volunteer weekend on February 24th-25th as this will be the last opportunity to prepare for the AGM. At this weekend there will be hedge laying training as well as lots of other activities including fencing, painting and other 'farmy' things. Anyone interested should either email project@fordhallfarm.com or phone Sophie on 01630 638656. Places must be booked in advance as spaces are limited.

You do not have to have any skills to take part, just enthusiasm!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Thank you for Christmas at Fordhall, by Charlotte

2006 has been an amazing year at Fordhall and the still of telephones and emails over christmas enabled us to really take in the achievements of the year.

Both Ben and I agree that the Christmas of 2006 has been one of our best ever at Fordhall. For once we could relax and really enjoying being at the farm; being at 'home'. Most of the christmas' we can remember were tinged with the dread that one day we would have our last christmas at the farm. Yet this year, we were able to celebrate the opportunity of enjoying christmas' at Fordhall forever! I can't tell you what an amazing feeling that was.

Our christmas morning began at 9.30am with Ben and his girl friend Marie-anne cooking us all Fordhall bacon sandwiches, mmmm. We then began to cook christmas dinner. There is always so much to do at Fordhall that on chirstmas day we make a special point of not rushing, we just let things happen as they will. As a result there was no real time set for dinner, apart from the fact that it would be some time in the afternoon.

This year christmas dinner was up to the 'youngsters'. So Ben and I, together with our better halves, Marie-anne and Oli, cooked christmas dinner. We had melon and then soup as starters then; pork, chicken, sprouts, parsnips, roast potatoes, mashed sweet potato and swede, stuffing, pigs in blankets, cheesy leeks, carrots, gravy and chutneys. Even without the desserts it was a locally produced feast to die for, and every family member had contributed at least one item to the meal.

Luckily before dinner we all went for a walk around the land you helped to save earlier in the year. By this time our older half-sister Marianne with husband Alan had joined us (see above, with mum behind the camera!). So we donned the wellies and our christmas hats, and even found time to feed the goats a treat on the way.

By the time we got back from the walk, the food was cooked and we were certainly ready for it.

Like most of yours, our christmas went into the evening with games and laughter in front of the roaring log fire, but not once did we forget the unforgettable year we have had and the sheer number of people who had enabled us to have such a special christmas.

I remember an email from one of our early shareholders just after the deadline in July. She said that when she had first seen the campaign on BBC Midlands Today (October 2005), she had thought that it was a great idea and very worthwhile, but that the £800,000 target was just to large to achieve. She told this to her husband and he said "well that maybe true, but if we put in £50 and enough other people think the same and just put in £50 then it may soon add up, so why dont we?". They did, and so did thousands more of you. So when you think that your one or two shares were insignificant, think again. It was the result of so many of you putting in that little bit that enabled that colossal sum of £800,000 to be raised, and thats what makes this campaign so amazing. You all did just as Ghandi said.

"Be the change you want to see in the world" Ghandi.

Thank You for Christmas 2006.
May 2007 take Fordhall to a new level.

Only 100 votes shy of 'Midlander of the Year Award'

The BBC announced the winner of their 'Midlander of the Year' award only moments ago. Charlotte and Ben came a close second to Otto Putland, a young swimmer raising money for a teenage cancer unit in Birmingham, who got only 100 votes more than Charlotte and Ben. From a total of 17,000 votes, Charlotte and Ben received over 5000, that’s 29.5% of the total votes, not bad going at all.

Charlotte says “both Ben and I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who voted for us. We were completely amazed by the result when the BBC told us. Only 100 votes behind the winner is an amazing achievement. It really motivates us to know that so many people are still supporting our activities at Fordhall. We won the Schumacher Award last September for our contribution to sustainable development and now coming second as Midlander of the Year, both are great achievements, but saving Fordhall with so much support behind us has to be the biggest success of 2006”

Fordhall Farm is now owned by almost 8000 people from across the country and even the globe, with the land leased to Charlotte and Ben, but there is still a long way to go at Fordhall; bunkhouses are being planned as well as a local/organic food tea rooms, and all built sustainably and with as much community input as possible.

There are always ways to get involved with the farm. You can still buy non-profit making shares in the Initiative, visit the farm shop or you can take part in their volunteer working weekends. The next is planned for this Sunday 14th Jan when there will be a one day hedge laying training course. Anyone wanting to take part in the training day, or would like to know more about Fordhall are encouraged to call Sophie on 01630 638656 or email project@fordhallfarm.com. You can keep updated with progress at Fordhall by following their online diary linked from their website http://www.fordhallfarm.com/.