Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Organic Fortnight and English Breakfasts

Its been another busy bank holiday weekend at Fordhall Farm. Ben and Marie-anne were at Greenfields food fair in Telford whilst Sophie and Courier Dave (aka The 'A' Team) were at the farmers market in Uttoxeter.

Ben also compelted his hay making on Monday with help from 8 willing volunteers and now has an ENORMOUS stack of hay stored in the Dutch barn.

There are roughly 1350 hay bales (someone lost count half way through) which is more than enough for Fordhall, so if you need any you know where to find us - if your a shareholder I'm sure you can get a good deal!

A date for you to know - Organic Fortnight is September 1 -16. The Soil Association have organised many activities to entertain you and inspire your tastebuds - more information is available at http://www.soilassociation.org/organicfortnight

Something to to tempt you: As part of the Organic Fortnight is 'Wake up to an Organic Breakfast'. Yum. A good breakfast = a great day. Whilst your eating just spare a thought for where the food has come from and how well the animals were looked after.

Don't forget that we sell delicious free-range bacon and sausages in the shop (Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun 11 -4) along with porridge, jam and honey. Scrummy stuff to start your day with!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Organic Futures Apprenticeship

The autumn newsletter (currently at the printers so will be with you over the next 2 weeks or so!) we feature some issues facing young farmers trying to enter into the industry. However, due to limited space we could not feature the following information which we feel people should know about. Across the country, people are finding their own solutions to these problems:

The Soil Association Apprenticeship pilot scheme was officially launched on 18th July at Abbey Home Farm. The scheme will take 2 years to complete and it is hoped upon completion, the apprentice will have a valued qualification and more importantly, extensive experience in organic horticulture.

Also in the news, the Commission for Rural Communities have released the State of the Countryside 2007 report which highlights that due to the mass migration of young people (15-29) from rural areas to urban areas, the average age in the countryside was 6 years higher than the towns. This brings huge economical problems and threatens the sustainability of rural communities in general.

For more information on these issues, visit www.soilassociation.org/organicfutures.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sunday Mail Appearance

After a very wet weekend, on what would have been our Family Fun Day, we return to the Fordhall Office and are faced with a flurry of online share applications and phone calls. What has caused this we ask ourselves?

And then, we find out that we were in the Sunday Mail Magazine Yesterday! The photos and interview were taken some while ago, and we had all completely forgotten about the article... until now.

But, as we did not know about it, we do not have a copy of the magazine. Can anyone help? Could you photocopy the article and send a copy to us at the farm?

Our address is: Fordhall Farm, Tern Hill Road, Market Drayton, Shropshire, TF9 3PS.

With all our best wishes and much appreciation

Fordhall x

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cancelling Family Fun Day

We are extremely sorry to inform you all that we are cancelling the forthcoming Family Fun Day on the 19th August and all planned guided walks over the next couple of weeks. This has been a tough decision for us, especially as everything seemed to have just fallen into place. We are just concerned that although the risk is low, if by any chance anything was to happen, it would be horrendous.

We understand that many people were planning on visiting the farm on August 19th. We are unsure at the moment if the Nature Trail will be open so please watch this space. We will however be putting on some very basic refreshments and the Farm Shop will be open 11 - 4. Please dont forget that we will have limited parking as cars will not be allowed in the field so please use public transport if possible.

But all is not lost! We are going for the 'Third Time Lucky' approach and moving the stalls and some activities to coincide with the already planned Big Draw event on Sunday October 14th so we hope to see you there (11-4).

Thank you for being so understanding. Please keep watching the website for up-to-date information on the situation.

From all at Fordhall x

Something to think about: "Huw Rowlands, a farmer of rare breed Red Poll cattle in Cheshire who is 'fully in favour of vaccination' writes, 'Culling infected animals is intended solely to protect our beef export industry, whilst supermarkets happily continue importing beef from countries such as Brazil, where foot-and-mouth disease is endemic."(The Independent, Letters, 9/8/07)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


As many of you will be aware, there is a current 'static' period in the agricultural industry. Whilst farmers can no longer move their cattle around, they cannot supply their farm shops and other outlets with the necessary products. The potential threat of being contaminated with Foot and Mouth Disease is too great a risk for many to shoulder and precautions are being taken by all.

It is because of this looming danger that we have been seriously considering what action to take regarding the forthcoming Family Fun Day on August 19th at Fordhall Farm. Our difficulty is; the current ban extends to August 17th and if any further action was taken not only would the nature trail have to remain shut, but all visitors would have to be decontaminated upon entering the farm - not everyones 'cup of tea'! Also, because the ban will not be lifted until 2 days prior to the event, Ben may not have any meat to either stock the fridge or provide the hog roast and bbq he has become accustomed to! It is just another knock for the farm after the flooding in July has caused problems with Hay Making. Ben is hoping this week will stay dry enough to get it all baled, but the delay has caused a lot of anxiety around the normally fun and involving activity.

This day has already been postponed due to the flooding in July and we have made it 'bigger and better' to compensate for this, so we are reluctant to cancel unless we have to. Even if we have to go ahead without the hog roast!

We just hope that this situation is resolved as soon as possible so everyone can let go of their breath and continue as normal. We really appreciate your understanding and hope you will keep your eye on our website for further updates.

We are in close talks with DEFRA and hope that if there are no other outbreaks between now and the event. If the next 10 days stays free, we hope to hold the event on August 19th as planned.

Please spare a thought for your local farmers.

From all at Fordhall x

p.s. photos of the hay making (in the sun) coming soon...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Foot and Mouth Scare

You may have heard that there has been a foot and mouth scare near Guildford in Surrey. As of 10pm Friday evening, there has been a national ban on livestock movements. Luckily this is a long way from Fordhall farm, however we must still exercise the utmost care and take all precautions to protect our animals.

The Farm Shop is still open. As a precaution we have had to close the nature trail and restrict access to our animals. We have disinfectant foot baths for our visitors and we appreciate your cooperation.

Ben is at Owestry show today as planned. It has still gone ahead but there will be no animals at the show.

We had planned to be at Shrewsbury Flower Show next weekend and we hope that this will go ahead but at the moment we are unsure if Ben will be able to take his animals to slaughter this week. This is particulary worrying as we obviously rely on being able to sell our produce direct to the customer for our survival.

We really appreciate all your support and will keep you updated as this situation develops. We are confident that the lessons learnt following the last outbreak in 2001 will limit the spread and effect this time.

Ben and Charlotte

Friday, August 03, 2007

Fordhall in the Daily Mail and in Book Shrop!

Charlotte and Ben's Book 'The Fight for Fordhall farm' was reviewed in todays Daily Mail by Richard Benson.

Yet another boost to the book sales following on from a Book Signing yesterday in Book Shrop in Whitchurch. They both gave a talk as many quests squeezed into the book shop, they then signed books before returning to Fordhall to get ready for todays farmers market in Shrewsbury.

OOh the life of a farmer!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Fordhall Butchery expands

At last Farmer Ben is able to move from his small lean to on the side of the house to a new larger butchery in the dutch barn. He has spent the last few weeks with many helpers putting together walk-in fridges and butchery spaces and they are almost complete. You can see Alec below helping to seal the curved edges of the room so that Environmental Health are happy. They can not leave any corners which may harbour bacteria and no holes that may allow flies and other insects to enter the food area. They have also have to sand balst the floor to make it move level so that cleaning is made easy.

The fridge panels were all second hand and they have done all the work themselves so that costs are kept as low as possible.

This new space will allow Ben more freedom with butchering his meats and in the future, will allow him enough space to butcher full carcasses.

At the moment all Fordhall livestock travel to a local butchers and abbottoir in Eccleshall (WM Perrys). They do the majority of the butchering allowing Ben to joint it up, steak and pack, all ready for the farm shop.

I have to say that the butchery is all Ben has talked about for the last week or so, and if you can't find him around the farm, then this is where he will be hiding.

He has been particularly proud of the plumbing - having done it all himself. Although this morning there did seem to be a leak through the ceiling!!

We'll keep you updated with the butchery move, as I am sure Ben will be keen to show it off once it is all completed.

Don't forget that Ben also now has is online shop for a limited range of Fordhall meats. See www.fordhallfarm.com and click on the shop link.