Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

With Best wishes from new piglets, Hamish, George and all at Fordhall

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas wishes to everyone


Well 2009 has been another fantastic year for Fordhall. Despite the recession the farm shop has remained busy and the Fordhall Community Land Initiative (FCLI) has received over 6000 visitors at its events.

George (our resident cade lamb) has entertained us a lot this year, whether he was trying to help in the office or even help Ben with Christmas orders - of which there were many, infact double last year. Of course this was extremely positive, but it also resulted in a lot of stress for Ben and his team (Chris, Steve, Hugo, Dale, Josh, Kevin, Charlotte) as they gathered boxes, three bird roasts, gammons and turkeys, carefully checking to ensure that every customer received the correct order!

Simultaneously, work on the farmhouse roof continues.... It was supposed to be complete by the end of the year, but as you'd expect with old buildings more problems were uncovered as we went along. There is one final roof on the right of the house to repair which we hope this will be complete early in the New Year.

The photo on the right shows the roof earlier this week. Thankfully all the tiles are now on and we are watertight for the Christmas break (we hope). No insulation yet, but we are hopeful that it is not too far away.

We would like to again pass on a big thank you to all who have supported us through 2009. Whether it be through the farm shop, the FCLI's events or our appeals (such as the roof appeal). It is only through your support that we are here today. Thank you for choosing to buy local and for choosing to be part of 'your' farm.

We hope that you will continue to be part of Fordhall Farm through 2010 as Ben continues to build up the farm and his catrering enterprise, and as the community trust continues to develop the farm as a community and educational asset. We will also begin to develop our old farm buildings (The Old Dairy) into a classroom, office space, tearoom and a new farm shop and butchery for Ben. It will be an exciting year with a lot to organise, but we are sure it will all be worth it.

We look forward to seeing you all in 2010 and sharing the journey with you all.

Charlotte, Ben and George :-)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Calendars now REDUCED just £8! Merry Christmas!

Well, this is my last blog of 2009 so I'm signing off and wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Just to let you know that the Fordhall 2010 calendars have now been reduced to just £8 - perfect for those last minute stocking fillers! These can be purchased in the Fordhall Farm shop!

See you in 2010.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fordhall office staff venture outdoors...

Yes thats right, Charlotte (FCLI Manager), Hannah (Community Development Officer, pictured below) and Becca (Admin Officer, pictured above) decided it was time they took a day out of the office to help progress the farm trail. Perhaps the middle of winter was not the best time to do it, but if thats when the work needs doing, thats what has to be done!

The job for the day was helping to complete the boardwalk and we were accompanied by one of our capable volunteers, Steve. We all worked extremely hard, through the cold and into the dark and we were all happy to say that a further 10 metres of boardwalk was laid, making it almost now complete.

Together with the remainder of the improvements on the farm our NEW FARM TRAIL, with the help of some Heritage Lottery funding and the fantastic support of our members, will be open in the Spring of 2010... all very exciting!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seedy Saturday and a Rumble in the Jumble!

Fordhall hosts it's first ever renewal and recycling event! A jumble sale and a community seed swap!

..........How exciting does that sound?!

We need your help though- Have you got any jumble you could give us? We are looking for clothes, bags, shoes and accessories as well as of course bric a brac, curtains, and linen etc..... We can collect locally or will take collections in the farm shop. Please help us to make a success of this event, we will be very grateful.

Also of course we will be holding our first ever community seed swap which is where you can come along and swap (or just pick up for a small donation) lots of seeds to go home and plant! It's a great chance to get some seeds for 2010 and let other people appreciate what you grow every year!

Please, please put this event in your diaries and tell your friends and family all about it! Please help us to make this event a huge success!

This event takes place at the Beacon Community Centre in Market Drayton on the 6th February 2010 at 10am with all funds raised going towards the ongoing work of the FCLI. To enter costs just 50p!
If you would like us to collect jumble/ seeds please call Hannah on 01630 638696 or email


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Did you notice our deliberate mistake in the newsletter?!

For everyone that subscribes to our newsletter, did you spot the, ahem DELIBERATE mistake on the future events page?!

Our 2010 Summer Fair and Beer Festival is in fact the 3rd and 4th of JULY (the same weekend that it normally is) not what is printed in the newsletter

Sorry for any confusion!

If of course you don't get the newsletter and would like to subscribe to it please contact Hannah in the office on 01630 638696.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Fordhall 2010 Calendar has arrived!

It's exciting times here in the Fordhall office as the 2010 calendars have arrived! We are really pleased with the calendars this year and hope that they will sell well, we have attached a few of the images that we have used on the calendar.

These are great to hang up in your home and also make fantastic the same time as supporting Fordhall and they only cost £10 each!

To purchase a calendar and support Fordhall, please call the office on 01630 638696 for more details. Thank you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mr Brown invites Fordhall Farm to Number 10.

Yes thats right, Shropshire farmers have been invited to Downing Street! Now, its not often that happens...

Gordon Brown organised a lovely reception at No. 10 last week to celebrate National Social Enterprise Day and as a Flagship Social Enterprise (and if you don't know, that is a business which does NOT work for 'private profit' but reinvests its profit for environmental or social benefit) for the West Midlands the FCLI (Fordhall Farm Community Land Initiative) was invited.

So off Charlotte went, into the big city of London. There were almost 200 other social enterprises squeezed into the main reception room and the fantastic food was also supplied by a Social Enterprise.

The PM said:
“Whatever job an individual is doing for whatever social enterprise in the country, you are doing something very much bigger than simply the task that you are carrying out. You are actually making our country a better, fairer and more successful country.
“You are building communities in this country that, without your help, would not be strong at all. You are making a younger generation see the importance of community solidarity and people working together for the common good.”

Charlotte said "it was a great honour to be invited to Downing Street. Whatever your political view, everyone in the room felt as though they were being truly thanked for the work that they do. It was a very interesting day, as we even got to have a little nosey around the house! It was a real celebration for Social Enterprise and has inspired me to work even harder. Role on 2010”

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Last Working Weekend of 2010

This weekend saw Fordhall Farm's last working weekend of 2009 and what a great weekend it was - plus the weather wasn't too bad either! We had 30 people come along and take part from all over the country - some from as far away as London.
We also had a fantastic bonfire party on Saturday evening and lots of people and enjoyed the fireworks and a Fordhall Sausage bap.
The next working weekend is on the 27th-28th February 2010. To book on please email

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fordhall Working Weekend - This Weekend!

This weekend Fordhall will host its last working weekend of 2009. Not only that but we have a bonfire party in the evening too.! There are still spaces left so if you want to join in the fun please let me know asap you can call on 01630 638696 or email me on


P.S - If you don't fancy this weekend then we have lots for you to get involved in in 2010, our first one is in February on the 27th - 28th, dates of the others will be up on the website shortly.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Work on the roof continues

Work continues to gather pace with the farmhouse roof. Most of the front roof is now off and supports are being added where timbers are rotten or cracked. Mike Salt Conservation Builders are working on the project and Rodney Bellamy is our architect keeping a keen eye on everything. Work is steady and we have had a few leaks during the showers but we are still hoping it will be complete by Christmas! Otherwise, it could be a cold one...

Additional works have already been found around the northern chimney stack, where a purlin had been built through its centre! Perhaps not the most fireprrof method of supporting the roof. This chimney stack is now having to be re-built and the purlins supported elsewhere.

Alongside this work, local volunteers, Maude and Jean, have been following progress to help gather and interpret the farms history. Questions which date the roofs and other rooms in the farmhouse are beginning to be answered, whilst new questions simulataneously arise. It is interesting work and we hope it will culminate into an interesting report at the end.

A big thank you must go to Maude and Jean for all the time and effort they are putting into this. But, we musn't forget our lovely architect and builders - keep up the good work chaps.... and please finish for Christmas!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fordhall 2010 Calenders

Fordhall 2010 Calenders are now on sale. Featuring 12 seasonal images of Fordhall Farm they are the perfect way to start the new year and they also make great gifts for Christmas.
To reserve your calender / calenders please call 01630 638696 or email

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fordhall Farm postpones Barn Dance.

It is with great regret that we have had to cancel this Friday's Barn Dance. Although we had sold quite a few tickets, it was not quite enough to cover our costs. However, this will not be your last chance to attend a Fordhall barn dance. We will be holding our next one in April 2010. It may feel like a long way in the future, but this gives you enough time to put it in your diary. The next day we will also hold the annual Fordhall spring Farmers Market so there will be lots to keep you entertained.

Please keep your eye on this page for more information on this and other future fundraising events.

Thank you.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fordhall Farm Barn Dance and Hog Roast!

An exciting event is coming up at Fordhall - our 'Barn Dance and Hog Roast' evening, so if you fancy a fun night out with friends and family, why not come along?! It takes place on Friday 23rd October from 7.30 til' late at The Grove School in Market Drayton. The well known folk group the 'Boat Band' will be getting the party started along with a caller counting out the steps for all those with two left feet!

The price is just £10 for adults and £5 for children (which includes the delicious hog roast) and there is even a fully licensed bar all evening!
You can book tickets by calling the office on 01630 638696 or dropping us an email to

Hope to see you all there


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Fordhall roof begins a makeover!

Work has begun this week on the Fordhall Farmhouse roof. Thanks to the generousity of all our shareholders we were able to gather the funds needed to complete the work before the winter.

The ivy has come off and the valley has been the first project on the list. We did have a few leaks and downpours whilst the roof was exposed, but we seem to be over the worst of it. Although Ben was a little surprised when he got out of the shower, only to see another shower coming out of the wall infront of him!

Mike Salt Conservation Builders are on the case and as soon as new lead goes into the valley they will begin to strip the front of the house. We also have a lovely architect, Rodney Bellamy, keeping a close eye on all the works. The project is expected to take 8 weeks and we will try to keep you posted on the blog with progress.

A big thank you to everyone once again for allow this work to happen. The Hollins family should have a draught free, dry house for the winter.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Fordhall Farm Fantastic Weekend Double Bill !

This weekend saw the farm host another fantastic working weekend and the national Big Draw event (

The working weekend was a fantastic success with approximately 25 people attending from all over the country. Lots of worthwhile jobs were begun/ finished such as the boardwalk made from recycled plastic, holes ready for an orchard in the pig paddocks in February and beds in the picnic area were made ready for vegetables and herbs in the spring.

The art event which we called 'If the pigs came to tea I would feed them.....' took place in the picnic area and allowed families to work together to create fantastic imaginary meals for the animals. Around 30-40 children took part families came along for the art event and although many 'meals' were taken home by the children here are some pictures of the plates that were left. I thought I would also share with you some of the fantastic names that were given to the works of art.

* Conker chocolate cake.
* Flower Salad.
* Worm spaghetti.
* Mud Pie (made with real mud!)
* Piggy Pizza
and lots lots more!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fordhall Farm Working Weekend and The Big Draw event.

Fordhall hosts another FANTASTIC working weekend.

Another weekend another fantastic working weekend. This weekend Fordhall not only opens it’s doors to another set of helpful volunteers but on Sunday we are hosting The Big Draw, which is a national art event and free to take part in. This year our event is called .......
If the pigs came to tea I would feed them.....'
which is set to encourage families to have a bit of fun creating and drawing imaginary meals for the farm animals that we can display outside at the farm.
Meal ideas include.
* Pine cone puddings.
* Grass sandwiches
* Mud smoothie's and much much more......

You don’t need to have any previous experience to join in on this weekend, all you need is the enthusiasm to get involved! So don’t worry if you’ve never done this sort of thing before! You won’t be alone!

We still have some places left on this weekend so please email me on or call 01630638696.

Hannah (Picture from last years Big Draw event)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


... I bet that got your attention didn't it?!

As part of our commitment to improvement here at Fordhall Farm we would like to know what you think of our blog. Do you like it? What would you like to see more of on here? What don't you like? Or are you happy and think we have got it just about right?!

Please leave us your comments - we really appreciate it.

Thank you.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fordhall Farm gets ready for the Supporters BBQ.

...Sadly no George this week - so you have me instead (Hannah) - he was off cavorting in the field when I tried to pin him down and get him to write his blog spot this week, never mind.... he will be back again soon I imagine.

Well the summer might be nearly over but the fun doesn’t stop at Fordhall!
You are invited you to our supporters BBQ on the 18th September 2pm (till late). It’s the perfect opportunity to come and see Fordhall and catch up with other volunteers, shareholders and even meet new people.
We will throw a fantastic Fordhall BBQ with non-alcoholic drinks (or bring your own alcoholic ones) and veggie options too. Please feel free to bring your family with you; everyone is invited. Plus if the weather is damp we have a marquee, so there are no excuses not to come along! If you are able to make it (and we hope that you are!) please email me on so that we can make sure Ben has enough sausages! Oh and we can cater for veggies too!

I hope to see you there...George might even make an appearance!


Monday, September 07, 2009

Beverley Fry paints Fordhall Farm pigs!

Above is a lovely painting of the Fordhall pigs by a local artist, Beverley Fry. If you want to go and see the original together with other work of Beverley's then the 'Beverley Fry Summer Pastures Exhibition' is at the picture shop and gallery Newport TF10 7AX.
phone re opening times
01952 813316
01785 811031

and gallery at:

Good luck Beverley, and thanks for the lovely paintings :-)

Fordhall x

p.s. Why not come and have a go yourself at the Fordhall Family Art day on Sunday October 4th from 11am-4pm.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Job Vacancy available at Fordhall Farm

With some large forthcoming projects, such as the renovation of the old farm buildings, we have taken the brave decision to employ someone to help us fundraise.

This will be a part time fundraising position of 16 hours per week at £19k pro rata for a Grants Officer. If anyone is interested please email for full details and an application form. The deadline is September 17th.

Please pass the word around!

Many thanks

The Fordhall team

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Adventures of George

As you may know, I now live in the field with the other sheep so can you imagine my excitement when my beady eye saw that one of the (very clever) volunteers had put up a useful and well constructed sink on the side of our compost toilet? This provides a handy extra area for volunteers to wash their hands after using the loo....and looks pretty nifty too!

It really is great, so please come and have a look at our supporters BBQ on the 18th September.

I hope that you like the photo of Hannah and I posing next to the sink....See you next week!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Adventures of George - taking part in the Working Weekend.


Hi there - phew! Well I am tired after such a busy weekend. As you probably know this weekend was a working weekend at Fordhall Farm which was fantastic with great atmosphere. Lots of jobs got done including, starting on our fantastic boardwalk, which when finished will give access to some of the wetter fields on the farm, a super picnic bench was made and lots of ragwort was pulled!

Don't forget that our next working weekend is the 3rd and 4th October - there are some spaces left but book in asap.
.....Check out the pics of me helping with the ragwort pulling!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Adventures of Back!

Baaa I'm baaaack! Hannah has been on her hols for a few weeks so no one has been able to help me type my blog each week, how baaaad is that?

Anyway, I'm back on my blogging streak now and I promise that I will stop with the baaad jokes for this week! This weekend Fordhall will host another fantastic working weekend. This is almost fully booked so if you do wish to attend please do not hesitate to contact me (or Hannah!) asap. I love it when lots of people come to the farm...I get lots of fuss! They are all really happy as they are kept busy all weekend with jobs around the farm. This weekend, Hannah tells me, we are putting in some steps on the badger site, a boardwalk plus much much more.

Anyway, enough about the working weekend, I'm sure the only reason that you read this blog is to hear about me. I've moved out! I now live in the fields with the other sheep (I like most of them) but I still like to venture around the farmyard in order to check that everything is still going well and that everyone is behaving I like to let Hannah know that I still love her!

Have a great weekend!


To get involved with the working weekend please call Hannah on 01630 638696 or email

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Drainage works continue...

Work around the house just gets more exciting. As soil is being extracted old bottles, shoes and pottery are being discovered, saved and recorded. Every step is being carefully monitored so that we can learn about the old building as we go along.

However, one bit we did not expect to find was a hole in the wall. Called over by our contractor John "did you know that your house is being held up by thin air?"...
Behind a concrete slab and some soil we found a hole in the wall, leading to the cellar. It is obviously an old hatch, which had not been bricked up when it stopped being useful and luckily the house had not moved much since...

The work continues and we hope it to be all complete by the end of the week. John, Tes (or Tez) and Jackie have also been working hard on building a beautiful sandstone wall and a patio area to finish the job off - thanks guys.

p.s. Don't forget we are holing Family Forest and Farm days at the farm on the 18th of August (11th is now fully booked) from 10am-12.30pm. They are great fun for all the family over the summer holidays, but need to be booked in advance.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Drainage works on Fordhall Farmhouse

This week important works have begun on the 18th century farmhouse at Fordhall. Over the years the ground level has risen and as a result the house has got damp and been retaining moisture. With repairs due to start on the roof in the Autumn, it was important to stop wate coming in from the bottom as well as the top.

John Heaney (and Tes or rather Tez!) have been working on inserting land drains around the house this week, but as part of the project we will also be removing the ivy.
The ivy has been on the house for over 100 years and it has really formed part of its character. Many visitors will remember staying in the four poster bedroom, or drinking in the bar room, both with ivy growing in through the walls!
It has seen the farm through many changes and through them even held the house together... Now it must be removed so that complete repairs can be made to ensure its structural integrity. We are all sorry to see it go, but we understand that the house must come first in this instance - plus we may replace it with wisteria or roses in the future :-)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fordhall in the Daily Express

Pick up a paper this Saturday and you will see (hopefully) a feature on community-owned enterprises, with Fordhall Farm being one of them! It is great to see that Social Entperprise and community ownership principles are being spread across the country and becoming ever more popular, especially within the economic climate we find ourselves in.

If you have a project you are working on, or have succeeded in then please do let us know. We would love to hear the stories of others across the country :-)


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Adventures of George

Baaah! Me again!
It's been so busy at Fordhall at the moment - it doesn't seem to have stopped after the Summer Fair! Phew! And guess what...Fordhall have even more exciting things coming up on the Summer that I want to get involved with too! Fordhall held some really successful Farm and Forest Fun activity days at the beginning of the year for children aged up to 12. These are really cool and exciting and get to get up to lots of fun in the forest including, tree climbing, den building, , blindfold trails, bug hunts and much much more. (Does that include sheep up to the age of twelve too?!)

These are always really popular and of course the added bonus is that you get to meet me!

The dates for these are as follows (All Tuesdays 10- 12.30am) July 28th, August 4th, August the 11th (fully booked) and August the 18th. These are normally really popular so please book on asap. To book please just call the office on 01630 638696. Each day costs just £6.50 per child.

BAAH!! From George and Hannah

P.S Do you like the pictures of me and my mates?!