Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Volunteers Transform Fordhall

Such as great weekend! Over 50 volunteers descended on Fordhall Farm over the weekend to put thier hands to numerous activities including clearing out old farm buildings, painting and planting hedgerows. Also, there was more hedge laying training which was hughly successful - the hedgerow really compliments the nature trail and is an excellent example of sustainable management techniques.

There were more volunteers than usual at the weekend as there was lots of preparation for the upcoming AGM on March 31st and the Farm Open Day on April 1st. The weekend went incrediably smoothly thanks to all the volunteers who organised and ran the catering and supervised other activities. Their time and expertise ensured the weekend was such a success. Thank you!

The volunteer weekends are becoming increasingly popular as people look to working outside for relaxation. The next volunteer weekend will be held over the weekend on March 31st and April 1st at the first ever AGM for Fordhall Community Land Initiative. Following this, the next planned weekend is April 21st and 22nd when as well as the usual activities, there also be a Forest School guide present to advise volunteers on designing educational games.

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! Other ways of helping out could include providing food for the weekend such as cakes and bread. There is more information about upcoming volunteer working weekends at http://www.fordhallfarm.com/ or phone Sophie on 01630 638656.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Snow Falls at Fordhall

Fordhall House
Last week, like most of the country, Fordhall was covered in snow for two days and looked perfect. Within a matter of hours the snow had fallen thickly and the fields were totally white.

Our first 25 lambs of the year (so far) were skipping around and playing in the snow which was very amusing to watch! Elsewhere, the 12 new born Glocuester Old Spot piglets looked confused as they momentarily left their heat lamp to explore outside, then rushed back to the warmth. Very sensible.

As for the cows, they weren't really sure what to make of the snow. They had become accustomed to the frost over the last couple of weeks, but this was an entirely different level. Most of them gathered near the farm buildings looking for reassurance.

Fordhall Farm changes so much throughout the seasons, it is difficult to say when the best time to visit us is. During the Summer months there is an immense flurry of greenery and excitment, but Autumn and Winter brings changes of colour and you can see beyond or through the hedgerows that normally block the view.

As the plans for the Annual General Meeting progress we are trying to highlight the different aspects of Fordhall Farm to thank everyone for their contribution in our success. This, in many respects, is easy. You only have to come and explore the farm yourself to understand there is something for everyone here.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fordhall Farm on the BBC

Keep your eyes peeled as Charlotte and Ben Hollins flash onto our screens tomorrow lunch time. Rob from the BBC 2 programme 'Working Lunch' visited Fordhall last week and the interview with Charlotte and Ben will be shown on Tuesday's programme from 12.30pm.

But, do not worry. If you do not get to watch the programme it is available throughout the day from the BBC Working Lunch website www.bbc.co.uk/workinglunch

It is great that there is still an active interest in Fordhall Farm and the concept of community involvement and ownership over British farms. This interest will be important to maintain as Fordhall's educational benefits grow and funds are raised for building renovation.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Soil Association Conference, By Charlotte

I attended the recent Soil Association Conference in Cardiff. As ever, it was an interesting mix of people coming together to, on this occasion, hear about 'Peak Oil'.

The Peak Oil topic is not a new one, but it has risen in importance over the last 12 months. The concept is that we have reached the maximum level of oil extraction that the earth can supply. From this year onwards the amount of oil available for us to extract on a daily basis will slowly decline.

This has consequences for every aspect of society, including farming. Essentially, everyone in the agricultural industry will need to be concious of the amount of energy currently required for food production. Many intensive arable farms use many more kilo-joules of energy to grow the crop than the crop creates as food energy, and this could become a potential problem in years to come.

Luckily, we run a very extensive farming system at Fordhall with very few inputs. With no tractor and only a small quad bike, our oil usage is already minimal. Furthermore, our grassland grazing system sequesters (or absorbs) the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere and holds it in our soils. This increases the fertility of our farmland as well as acting as our small contribution to the fight aganist global warming.

I took a lot of inspiration away from this years conference. Although the 'Peak Oil' focus could be seen as a haunting topic, the truth is that humans are in the exciting position of being able to make that all important difference; making small changes today that will create a secure and positive future for our children. Even so much as putting in an energy saving lightbulb, sharing car journeys and using more public transport, are small changes that can make a big difference.

This is the point at which we have a choice. I believe that earth will continue regardless, but will it be a place that we want to live in - we have that choice, now.