Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Buy a Share in Fordhall Farm for Christmas!

....They make great gifts! A life-time share really is the most perfect, thoughtful gift for any age. It's a chance to become part of The ground-breaking Fordhall Community Land Initiative and own part of a farm!Receive a beautiful hand-written certificate, regular newsletter and be part of a group that makes a difference to the environment and the community with your very own none profit making share!

Also this year we have Fordhall Farm Christmas cards and 2009 calenders for sale in our Farm shop. If you would like any of these posted to you, please contact Hannah or Becca in the office on 01630 638696.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Burglary at Fordhall Farm

Unfortunately, for the first time in years Fordhall Farm has been burgled. There is not much machinery on the farm, but what there is has extreme value for the people that use it. (Farmer) Ben doesn't have a tractor or any large machinery, but he does have a quad bike, and on Sunday night it was stolen from our barn along with a number of power tools.

Thieves broke through the door, leaving the padlock untouched, on the farms dutch

barn. The quad bike was the first thing to go and unfortunately, the most valuable asset on the farm. Ben manages the livestock on our 140 acre farm himself and the quad was the one thing that helped speed up his daily jobs and allow everything he has to do in a day possible. Other tools taken included a stihl saw, chain saw, welder and more.

Ben said "Its really disheartening to know that people could come and steal from such a small business when everyone is working so hard to try and make it work in todays climate. It is an especially big blow at this time of year when it is so busy in the run up to christmas. With all the Christmas orders to organise not having the quad bike to help look after/feed the animals will really slow things down. We have now installed cctv and extra security at the farm to help safe guard against future problems."

Ben has felt de-motivated and disappointed from the incident but this does not just effect him. Regular volunteers at the farm, such as Chris Tither, rely on the tools for their work. Chris has been helping at Fordhall for over 18 months, building up his confidence levels whilst having the sense of being involved in a worthwhile project. But, when he turned up today there was little work he could do.

You never know, someone may read this and at the same time notice some cheap power tools for sale..... But, more than likely they are lost forever.

We urge everyone to be extra vigulent in the run up to Christmas this year and to watch out for buying cheap items that could well be stolen.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fordhall Farm attracts University Students.

Last weekend saw Fordhall's biggest volunteer weekend to date. A massive 55+ people attended, most of whom had never been to Fordhall before. On the Friday evening one girl even asked '.....But where do I plug in my hair straighteners in a field?!'

The weekend was part of our 'Get Mucky' project where we wanted to attract younger people too to Fordhall as we felt this was a generation really lacking from the weekends. So we got in touch with Keele and Liverpool Universities and the response was amazing. The weekend was funded by the V Project , so a big thank you must go to them for all their help.

The weekend was lots of fun with lots of people 'getting mucky' as the jobs available included clearing ditches, clearing out pig pens and building fences (amongst other things!). Although it was a really cold weekend and most people were camping, it was dry and we warmed everyone up with a campfire with lots of delicious Fordhall food - we really showed them what Fordhall was all about!

Everyone had a great time and learnt a lot about the farm as we took them on a guided walk to round off the weekend. Our next working weekend is on the 21st-22nd February and is open to everybody, there are plenty of spaces to camp at the farm and also some space still available in the yurts. So if you are interested in booking on to this weekend please call Hannah on 01630 638696 or email


Friday, November 21, 2008

WINNERS - Morgan Foundation Awards

WOW - The Fordhall Community Land Initiative is the WINNER of the 'Against All Odds' Morgan Foundation Award, winning a staggering £25,000 towards the trusts work. The Morgan Foundation Entrepreneur Awards are designed to find a new generation of role models - whether they are new businesses, young entrepreneurs or social enterprises. They were also looking for a special person or business that has overcome obstacles and succeeded 'against the odds’ and the competition was tough.

Steve Morgan presented the award to Charlotte on behalf of the Fordhall Community Land Initiative last Thursday evening. He said the competition had been extremeley tough and the decision for this category was particularly difficult. Other finalists included Tom Dowling, All Together Now, Sara Murphy, Macey and Bond Marquee Company, Peter Cousins, Brighter Futures Workshop, Dan Cundall, NMC Design and Print and Clare Molyneux, Open the Doot Theatre in Education.

The award was given for the recognition of all the hard work and effort that went into saving Fordhall Farm from development and placing it into community ownership in 2006. Charlotte Hollins, Project Director for the Initiative said “This will make a substantial contribution towards the future development of the Initiative mainly through the renovation of the old farm buildings. Saving the farm from development was an amazing achievement by so many people - a gigantic thank you to all. I can not believe we won this award. I am completely amazed."

It demonstrates that people do care about our farmers, they do care about their food, and they do care about our beautiful English countryside. We hope the Fordhall Community Land Initiative will go on to teach many more children about their food and where it comes from.

The funds will help with the progression of the Intiative at Fordhall, continually utilising it for community benefit. One of the biggest forthcoming projects is to renovate the farm buildings. The hope is that this will house a new indoor classroom for school visits and a small local food tea rooms.

The recognition for all the hard work from volunteers and supporters can not go unnoticed. But of course, an enormous thank you must go to Steve Morgan and the judges on the awards panel for giving this award to the Fordhall Community Land Initiative. Social Enterprise can make a difference and great things can be achieved, even when the odds are against you.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Finalists in the Morgan Foundation Awards


The Fordhall Community Land Initiative is the finalist in two prestigious awards; Best Entrepreneurial Social Enterprise and Against All Odds. The Morgan Foundation Entrepreneur Awards are designed to find a new generation of role models - whether they are new businesses, young entrepreneurs or social enterprises. They were also looking for a special person or business that has overcome obstacles and succeeded 'against the odds’. Fordhall fitted perfectly into both brackets.

The Morgan Foundation was set up by businessman Steve Morgan OBE in 2001, founder and former Chairman of Redrow plc and now Chairman of the Bridgemere Group of Companies and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.

With a grant programme of over £1.5 million per year, funds are targeted where they can make a real difference to the lives of the people across North Wales, Merseyside, West Cheshire and North Shropshire.

Charlotte nervously presented to the Judges last week and we will find out on Thursday the 20th if the Fordhall Community Land Initiative has been successful... Quite fitting, as the 20th is also national Social Enterprise Day. If we win, this will make a substantial contribution towards the future development of the Initiative as well as promoting the values of Social Enterprise. It will highlight what can be achieved when people come together for a common goal and how a community and local economy can be enhanced when people support their local producers, food and farming. All in all, we think the Initiative has done amazingly well to get this far in the competition and that is all thanks to the contributions made by the board members, shareholders and all the volunteers who get involved. Thank You.

Wish us luck!!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bens new Venture!

Farmer Ben has started a new venture this summer at Fordhall Farm, with a new van and Hog Roast machine. He started off hiring a machine and with one of our Gloucester Old Spot pigs he would attend events, weddings or private parties. But, as the requests grew, he soon knew he needed machinery of his own. After reseaching it he found that the machines and a means of transport were going to be too expensive. Then Charlotte came across a grant North Shropshire Distric Council were offering to small businesses to help them purchase capital equipment - perfect!

Ben has now been able to purchase a new Hog Roast machine, a Fordhall Farm branded gazebo, and an ex-Iceland refrigerated delivery van (above). After a lot of cleaning and some new stickers the van, purchased from the local scrap yard, now looks like new. Ben is going up in the world :-)

Ben says "People really like the fact that all pigs are reared by me on the farm, so the pork has excellent flavour, as well as being completely traceable. And, I am enjoying every minute. A big thank you to North Shropshire District Council."

More information is available on our website

Monday, November 03, 2008

Barclays Make a Difference

Fordhall Farm recently played host to a team from the Barclays IT department at Knutsford as part of national Make A Difference Day. Make a Difference Day is the UK's biggest annual day of volunteering each October with hundreds of projects across the country. The aim is to highlight the amazing impact volunteers can make just by giving the simple gifts of time, skills or muscle power! It began back in 1995, and has since gone from strength to strength thanks to the army of people across the country who organise and take part in activities every year.

As you will know, there are always jobs to be done on the farm and so there is always plenty of opportunities to volunteer. As a result we certainly welcomed the enthusiastic team from Barclays who spent the day shoveling stone to build a disabled access and push chair friendly path at to our picnic area; allowing more visitors to see the free range pigs and visit the picnic site.

We were lucky enough to be awarded £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery fund earlier this year, and together with the thousands we raised through all our supporters, work on the Farm Trail can now commence. Work will be ongoing throughout the winter ready for when the trail reopens in the Spring. The second tranch of this work will be completed the following winter.

It is an exciting project and Barclays have made a fantastic first step. We could not have done it without their immense effort. They really did work like Trojans all day. Despite the aches, we have been assured that they all thoroughly enjoyed the day.


The next volunteer weekends are due to be held on November 22nd and 23rd and then February 21st and 22nd 2009. The majority of work on these weekends will be focussed around the farm trail and improving access around the farm for visitors. Places do need to be booked. If you are interested, please contact Hannah at the farm on 01630 638696 or

Friday, October 31, 2008

'Dare to Wear Pink' day!

Here at Fordhall Farm, we have taken part in the 'Dare to Wear Pink' day which is raising money for cancer research - a really worthy charity. So Charlotte and lots of volunteers.. have dressed up in pink today - have a look at the pictures! Well done everyone!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First snow of Winter 2008

Just a few minutes ago Fordhall saw its first snow fall of the winter and we all got very excited! Winter is the time the farm and nature takes to rest ready for the busy, productive summer months. Although as you can imagine, life as a farmer never really ends.

Ben is managing his winter grazing carefully to ensure there is enough to sustain the livestock through to the spring when the lush grass will again reappear. He is also getting very busy preparing for Christmas orders through his new and improved online farm shop, where he will be supplying free-range bronze turkeys, hams, gammons and the usual beef, lamb and pork. There is even talk of some Christmas geese.

In the office we are preparing the winter newsletter, planning developments for the new farm trail, developing plans for the renovation of the old farm buildings and putting together educational packages for 2009.

Roll on 2009...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Singles weekend and Big Draw event

Last weekend saw Fordhall Farm host it's first ever Singles weekend in association with It was a real success with people travelling from all over the country to get stuck into some outdoor work here at Fordhall. Lots of fun was had by all and we celebrated a hard days work with a tasty BBQ around the camp fire on the Saturday night. Everyone worked so hard and we even managed to get our new path completed which will allow disabled access to parts of the Farm trail. This is a massive step towards renovating our current trail.
On the Sunday the singles weekend weekend continued with more jobs but we were also joined by local artist Helen Thompstone for our art event 'The Big Draw'. We transformed one of our yurts into an indoor Fordhall forest with people of all ages getting arty, drawing, painting and creating trees for our imaginary forest! It looks great and is still up on display, so if you wish to come and have a look - pop on down!

Our next working weekend , which is open to everybody, takes place on 22nd-23rd November, to book on just email me on Thanks.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Strapping Men Needed!

We need strapping men, please, to come and help out at our Fordhall Farm Singles Volunteer Weekend at the farm on Saturday 18th - Sunday 19th October (Although people can arrive on Friday night.)
We've already got lots of women travelling across the country to get stuck in, get their hands dirty and meet a few new people - now we just need a bit of extra male muscle - can you help?
Tickets cost just £10 with all your food all weekend and this event is open to all ages so please grab a mate and come and lend a hand!
For more information and to buy your ticket, log on to

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ludlow Food Festival

Its that time of the year again. The amazing Ludlow Food Festival rocks Shropshire. Ben has been spending all week preparing with the help of Helana and 'courier' Dave. Today Farmer Ben (Hollins) is off to prepare the stall and tomorrow the fun begins... For Ben, it is just as big as Christmas.

Ben and his team will be there selling delicious Fordhall free range Gloucester Old Spot sausage baps, burgers and more. Inside the local food marquee fresh meat will be for sale as well as the book, 'The Fight for Fordhall Farm' and even a raffle to win lots of Fordhall meat.

As you can see this week it has been sausages, sausages, sausages, and more sausages... And today, whilst the men took the fridges and griddles to Ludlow. Helena sat in a mountain of bread baps, slicing and bagging them up. Please help them out by buying a sausage bap at Ludlow!

If you are at the festival, please come and say hello. We always love the opportunity to meet supporters or shareholders.

Don't Forget - THIS WEEKEND fri-sun at Ludlow Castle.

See you there! :-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Come dip a pond?

The Fordhall Community Land Initiative has partnered up with Market Drayton Taste of the Town Company to organise some childrens activity days over the summer. We want to get more children and families out into the countryside through the holidays, whatever the weather. Funded by a local grant and the Taste of the Town Company, these activities are free and great fun.

Shropshire Wildlife Trust will be running a Pond Dipping activity and Bug Hunt at Fordhall Farm on Tuesday 19th August from 2pm-4pm. Places need to be booked in advance by calling the office on 01630 638696.

Another two local activity days are at Park Hill Farm, Hales (TF9 2QA), 01630 652178. There will be two bug hunting days on 15th August 2-4pm, and 26th August 10-12am.

Come and enjoy the fun!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fordhall awarded V Project grant.

Fordhall has been awarded a grant from the V project in order to enable us to encourage and recruit more younger volunteers onto the farm. So a massive thank you must go to the V project. I am very exited about this project and about gaining some new volunteers.
If you are interested in volunteering at Fordhall (regardless of age) please call me in the office on 01630 638696. Don't forget that we also have our next working weekend on the 6th-7th September, which is free. Sign up now!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hay Making in 2008 - beat the rain...

After wandering if the Summer weather was ever going to come, we have finally had chance to cut and make hay. Ben rents some land at Whitchurch from Shropshire Wildlife Trust (melverley Meadows). They are protected, traditional organic hay meadows and Ben uses them to cut hay for winter feed. However, you need at least a week of completely dry and warm weather for it to be successful.

Last week began well and on tuesday Ben took the decision to bale the hay. By the weekend it was already to bring back to the farm, but Saturday evening and Sunday predicted rain. This meant it was all hands on deck to get it completed on Satuday. Wet hay rots and is then worthless, he could not afford to delay and run into the rains.

Charlotte and Becca were at Shrewsbury Farmers' Market, Courier Dave and Helena were at Uttoxeter Farmers' Market and Ben had been able to rally up some more help in the field. Josh, Ralph, Dave, Chris, Craig, Ghislain (from Normandy) and later Helena (from Prague), Charlotte and Marie-Anne. The team worked hard through the mid day sun and put in some real effort. Eventually the hay made it into the barn, but everyone was working well into the night.

Alas, the rains did not come. But, nevertheless the hay is now safe and the barn is full ready for this years winter feed.

Well done all those who put in the hard work.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summer Fun in the Fordhall Woodland

After a successful year of Forest School in Fordhall Farm's woodland, we have decided to organise some Forest Fun Activities for the Summer Holidays. These will run from Monday 28th July - Friday 1st August from 10am-12.30pm. They will be run by a qualified Forest School Leader and involve a whole range of activities from map trails, mini beast hunts, blindfold trails, den making, woodland crafts and even a campfire party!

For more information please contact the office on 01630 638696 or email project

£15 per day or £75 for the week. Discounts available for second child from the same family. Adults are free.
Suitable for ages 4 years and upwards. Under 9's must be accompanied by an adult.

Places must be prebooked as places are limited.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Successful Summer Fair

This weekend was the annual Summer Fair, and what a success it was! We had such a variety of stalls and activities for all the family. There were traditional Victorian games presented by the scouts, welly wanging for all the family, corn dolly demonstrations, bench making plus we even had a visit from the fire engine and police car (for the children to explore before you ask!) the sheep shearing which took place in our new barn was a resounding success, a really interesting and informative addition to the fair.

Lots and lots of people came through the gates, from nearby and as far away as London and everyone had a great time. Lots of home cooked organic cakes were munched as was Ben's tasty Hog Roast.
A huge thanks must go out to all our amazing volunteers that really helped for the day to go smoothly and without a hitch - we couldn't have done it without you!


P.S Don't forget that this week is your last chance to see Arthur's Plough. It is on at Home Farm, Attingham from Wednesday - Saturday. Please ring the office for ticket availability.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Second Week of Arthurs Plough Play

Today we begin the second week of Arthurs Plough and it looks like the weather may be a little kinder to us. Last week, two performances were held in Ben's barn and two were held in the Farmhouse garden. All were very successful and everyone had fun.

This will be the last EVER week of performances at Fordhall Farm, with the following weeks performances moving to Home Farm, Attingham, Shrewsbury.

If you would like to book tickets for this week, please buy them in advance as we can not guarantee they will be available on the door.

Please go to Ben's Farm Shop or ring 01630 638696.

More photos available at Virtual Shropshire

OR see the BBC promotion of the show by following the link below

Fordhall Farm's biggest event of the year takes place this Sunday (6th July). Our Summer Fair will run from 11am-4pm and will have enough activities to keep you entertained all day. We have sheep shearing demonstrations - the naming of Ben's new Bull - hog Roast - live music - bee keeping demonstrations - games - farmer's market - afternoon teas - RAF Helicopter - fishing - composting and more...

How could you miss out!

Friday, June 27, 2008

We carried on regardless

Despite last nights rain, the second performance of 'Arthur's Plough' at Fordhall Farm was a great success. Volunteers (especially Chris, Charles and Helena) spent the day clearing the shed from animal muck to allow the cast and audience a clean space to sit.

Tonights performance should be back in the Farmhouse garden, but if the rain comes once more we will back into Bens shed.

Please dont forget to book your tickets early to guarantee a seat on the night.

For photos of the dress rehearsals follow the link below:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Arthur's Plough - First night Success!

Last night was the first night of Arthur's Plough (our play with music) at Fordhall Farm - and what a success it was! Lots of people turned up with their chairs and enjoyed a night of laughter as they were told the Fordhall story.
The acting was superb, a real pleasure to watch and extremely funny. (The bit with Victoria the pig was my favourite.) The farm cat even decided to make an appearance on the stage at one point, I think she forgot her lines though!
So if you haven't bought your ticket yet - get one quick! Even though it seems to be pouring with rain at the moment, tonight's performance will still go ahead, it just might be moved into the lambing shed (We will move the animals currently sheltering there out, don't worry!)
Please call the office on 01630 638696 if you would like to purchase a ticket or alternatively go online and you can buy one from Ben's online shop.
Don't miss out - See you there!

P.S For those of you that REALLY cannot come, you can buy a DVD of the play, from the office for just £10.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One week to go - Buy your tickets today!

The Fordhall Farm Play 'Arthur's Plough' begins in only 1 weeks time, so there is not long to get your tickets...

Last week, Shrewsbury actors Rosie Coxhead and Matt Saull met Shropshire’s famous farming duo Charlotte and Ben Hollins when they visited Fordhall Farm to research their parts.

Actor Rosie Coxhead, who plays Charlotte, said, “It was a real thrill to meet the woman I am about to play on stage. We talked for ages and I got a real insight into Charlotte’s pioneering personality. By the end of the afternoon even our body language was similar.”

Ben was also delighted to meet actor Matt Saull. “I’d read the play of course, but seeing myself portrayed on stage is a very exciting feeling. The only drawback is that Matt is slightly more handsome than me.”

“Arthur’s Plough 2008” is a new Arts Council-funded musical play for Shropshire complete with performing pigs, dancing microbes and plenty of muck, mirth and magic. A cast of ten actors, complemented by a 40-strong choir, will give a total of 12 performances of the play.

Performances begin on 25th June to 28th, and July 2nd to 5th at Fordhall Farm and then 9th to 12th July at Home Farm, Attingham, Atcham, Shrewsbury.

Tickets at £10 (£7.50) can be purchased from Fordhall Farm shop on 01630 638 696 or by clicking on Ben's Online Shop below.

Click Here: Online Shop

There isn't long left so please buy your tickets soon to avoid disappointment.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Find our Ancient Trees

A recent volunteer to Fordhall Farm was Paul Beevers. Whilst here, he and 'Courier' Dave went searching for Ancient Trees. They found three that would qualify. The trees
measured 4.8 mtrs, 6.05 mtrs and 4.7 metres respectively.

The Ancient Tree Hunt classifies oaks of interest by girth as follows;
* Trees with a girth of more than 4.5m or 3 hugs are potentially
* Trees with girth of more than 5m or 3.5 hugs are valuable in terms
of conservation
* Trees with a girth of more than 6m or 4 hugs are likely to be truly

This means that 1 of the trees is classed as truly ancient - which is rather

Also did you know that oaks support far more species of birds, insects, fungi than
any other native tree by a mile. Insects supported by an oak exceeds 350
species and for example 30 species of lichen. The older the tree the more
species. As there are more holes and breaks as the trees get older then
owls, woodpeckers, bats and many other birds make greater use of the tree.

Perhaps you have some ancient trees near you. Why not try hugging them with your friends and if they are big enough you can log them on the official website below.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chicken Out

At Fordhall Farm we believe that intensive battery hen farming is wrong and cruel. Chcikens are naturally free-range and should be able to peck at the ground, feed on insects and roam in the sunshine.

As a result we are firmly behind Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls 'Chicken Out' campaign.

If you would like to join click on the link below and add your name to the list. As the saving of Fordhall Farm has shown. If enough people make a small stance, amazing mountains can be conquered.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Another great volunteer working weekend!

This weekend even more eager volunteers from around the country came to Fordhall Farm to take part in one of our legendary working weekends. On the sunniest Saturday for ages, volunteers go downright mucky as they helped to clear some ditches at the edge of one of our fields while others helped us paint, re-felt and muck out...amongst many other things!
Then we did it all again on Sunday when the farm took part in Open Farm Sunday! This too was a success with over 100 people coming to walk around the nature trail and tuck into a tasty Fordhall BBQ!If you wish to take part in the next working weekend please call me in the office for more information. 01630 638696. - Hannah

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Guided Walk for Open Farm Sunday

Today is Open Farm Sunday across the country and as part of it Fordhall Farm will be hosting a FREE guided walk. Due to leave at 2pm the walk will tell the Fordhall story and explain the organic farming system that has been run here for decades. It will take approximately 1.5 hours and everyone is welcome.

Alternatively, you can walk the farm trail in your own group, visit the farm animals, bring a picnic, visit the farm shop, play the farm quiz. There may even be a BBQ?!?

Hope to see you between 11am-4pm TODAY.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Open Farm Sunday

Fordhall Farm is joining in with national Open Farm Sunday on June 1st 11am-4pm. We will be throwing open the farm gates and inviting everbody to see farm life as it really is.

The Farm Trail and Farm Shop will of course be open. But we will also have fun activities for children and a guided walk around the farm during the afternoon. Why not come and see the new calves, piglets, and all the spring lambs. You can even meet farmer Ben!

Tea, coffee and cake will be available throughout the day. All activities are FREE.

Would you like to help make benches for our picnic area on May 31st and June 1st at Fordhall Farm?
Volunteers are needed to help revamp the picnic area before the summer gets into full swing. If you can spare one or both days of the weekend please let Hannah know on 01630 638696 or email The weekends are always great fun and there is the opportunity to meet people from all kinds of backgrounds. You don't have to be practical or skilled, just willing to have a go. The more the merrier.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Update on the Farm Trail Appeal

As mentioned on the blog a few days ago, we are running an appeal to raise funds to help the Farm Trail here at Fordhall Farm. We are pleased to say that it is going really well and we are receiving a large amount of post on a daily basis. Here are some photos of the post that we received on Friday - plus Tracey posing very nicely too!
- Hannah