Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The first foundations have gone in!

It was a momentous event earlier this week, when the first concrete foundations were laid. It is amazing how quickly they were in. Any concrete on Fordhall has previously been mixed in a wheelbarrow or on a board on the floor. So, a large mixer truck on the farm simply pouring ready mixed concrete into the 4m whole within minutes, was quite a sight.

These foundations will now allow the walls of our new tearoom to go back up - and so we still have our fingers crossed for a mild winter.....

Hopefully, the rest of the building will now begin to take shape quickly. :-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

2011 Fordhall Calenders

Fordhall Farm are pleased to announce that their 2011 calendars have now arrived! These are great to hang up in your home and also make fantastic gifts...and they support Fordhall at the same time. These cost just £10 each (+ £1.99 p+p)

We also have Fordhall Lilliput Lane farmhouse for sale for £24.99 plus £3.50 p+p

Both are perfect for a last minute gift for someone this christmas. To purchase a calendar and support Fordhall, please call the office on 01630 638696 for more details. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Sustainable bunting - DIY

As many of you may have read in the Fordhall Grazer (our newsletter) we are looking for people to help us to make decorations to celebrate the opening of our new visitor centre.
We want to make lots of bunting to use for the opening and that we can use for future events, and we would like your help. We would like people to make and then send us the triangles that make up the bunting then the bunting can be proudly displayed as a real community decoration. Bunting is very simple to make and many of you may know how to already, however if not Viv one of our wonderful volunteers has put together a simple guide below.
You can make one triangle for our bunting or as many as you like, the only thing we ask is that they are the size dictated in the guide below we would also like the bunting to compliment the colours around the farm, so earthy/autumnal colours – reds, oranges, yellows, browns and greens would be ideal, any pattern is fine too! Please send them to and we will put them all together – Thank you!

You will need.

* Scissors.
* A4 paper.
* Pen.
* Ruler.
* Material.
* Needle & thread.
* Pins or sellotape (to attach pattern).


• Take a piece of A4 paper to make your pattern. Fold your paper in half (lengthways) open up the paper and then mark where the centre of the short side is -- this is going to be the top point of the triangle. Then use a ruler to draw a line from the top centre point to the bottom left corner. Do the same again to the bottom right corner; this should give you a long isosceles triangle.


  •  Cut out your triangle – this is going to be the pattern for the flag.

  • Temporarily attach the pattern to your chosen pieces of material and cut out two triangles.

  • Put one triangle on top of the other,  with the patterned sides facing each other and sew the long edges together, making sure that you sew 1cm in from the edge to create a neat seam. Do not sew the top of the triangle together; we need this left open to attach to our tape.

  • Turn the piece of bunting inside out (so that the pattern is now on the outside).

  • Then iron your flag or flags and send them to us!

If you want to embroider your name etc...on your bunting then that would be a lovely extra however this is in no way essential.  We look forward to seeing the finished product!


Monday, December 06, 2010

Nature hibernates, but work on the farm continues

As the cold weather has hit Britain hard, we have all been busy keeping warm and ensuring the livestock have enough shelter. The snow and ice is beautiful, allowing every corner of Fordhall Farm to glisten and shine.

But as beautiful as it is, winter on the farm just means shorter daylight hours to do the same amount of work, especially in the run up to Christmas. This weekend alone Ben was at two farmers' markets (Rode Hall left and Attingham Park), then it is back to organising christmas orders on the farm, and defrosting water pipes so that the pigs and livestock always have access to fresh drinking water.

Meanwhile work on the renovation of our Old Dairy building continues.

Above right: the corner of the building that you see as you get to the top of the farm drive - this will be where our new toilets will go!

Until now, the builders have had enough work dismantling parts of the building - the roof has come off and internal walls have disappeared, with all the bricks being carefully cleaned and stored ready to be reused in other areas of the building.

Above right: This will be our new tearoom - the walls here have been removed as they were not structurally safe to leave. They will be rebuilt using the original bricks and here will be our new tearoom - fancy a cup of tea? (click on the photo to see a larger image).

They are now at the point of laying foundations and rebuilding but the cold temperatures are just too low to allow even the concrete to go off. This could delay our Easter opening and so we have our fingers and toes crossed that the weather warms up soon. We really need to have stable temperatures of at least 5 degrees for the concrete to set properly and ideally we would be regularly reaching temperatures of 10 degrees for the lime mortar. It is the lime mortar that will be used to rebuild our external walls and so this could prove to be a serious delay for the project.

As always at Fordhall, we feeling positive and hoping that the winter cold spell has come early, and the coming months will remain mild....

Normally I long for a white Christmas, but this year lets all hope for a sunny christmas!


Thursday, December 02, 2010

...and the snow keeps falling!

What an early start to the winter and the snow keeps coming... As regular blog readers will know, Ben's (the farmer) cattle and sheep remain outdoors year round. With the minor exception of this years calves, which are currently indoors as Ben weans them from their mothers. The rest of Ben's Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle have now developed hardy winter coats, which will keep them warm through the harshest of English winters.

Back in the office we are all wrapping up. The portacabin is not the warmest building on the planet, but thermals, multiple layers, hot drinks and lots of bodies working, all help to keep us warm. And so far, we have not reached the cold temperatures of last winter. Meanwhile, the Shingler lads are still working outdoors on the renovation of our Old Dairy. 

As you can see the roof is completely off and those walls which were unsafe have been dismantled, to be rebuilt. But as pretty as the snow is, we are all hoping for warmer weather soon to allow our walls to go back up! We are using traditional lime mortar on our Old Dairy building, in keeping with the traditional farm and the old bricks, However these materials need warmer temperatures to work - so we have our fingers crossed that the cold spell will soon lift.
The next job will be to lay the concrete base for the new farm butchery (right), but even this modern material needs temperatures well above zero to work best!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Fordhall Wins Social Enterprise Photography competition!

Definately a more interesting blog this time. We are celebrating after topping a public vote to become the winner of a national photography competition for social enterprise. The result of the online poll was announced last night (30 November) at a special event held at the social enterprise Lumen, in London.

The ‘Social Vision: business at its best’ competition set out to find images that show the unique and transformative work of social enterprise - businesses trading for social and environmental purposes.

Now in its third year, the photography competition was for the first time jointly run by Triodos Bank and the Social Enterprise Coalition in association with Social Enterprise Magazine and the regional social enterprise networks of England.

Charlotte travelled through the snow last night to attend the event in central London, where Fordhall amazingly won first place. 1,640 were cast and Fordhall Farm received 22% of those to see off the ten other finalists!

Winning the Social Vision competition is a great honour. Fordhall has come a long way over the last five years. It is a wonderful feeling to see how much children and families get out of experiencing the farm - so much more than we ever imagined. Social enterprise really is a wonderful business to be in. A big, big thank you to all our shareholders, volunteers and supporters who voted for us. To Caroline Edge who took the fantastic photo and to Social Enterprise West Midlands for encouraging everyone to vote. 

We hope that this award will help Fordhall continue to be a flagship for Social Enterprise across the West Midlands and even further afield.

Peter Holbrook, CEO of the Social Enterprise Coalition said: “Congratulations to Fordhall Community Land Initiative on their success – the standard of entries was very high this year making their win all the more impressive. Their story is a great example of what individuals can achieve by coming together to work for a common aim and, like all social enterprises, people and planet lie at the heart of what they do.”

And Charles Middleton, Managing Director of Triodos bank said: “We’re delighted by the superb standard of photography in this year’s competition, which really captures the spirit of a better approach to business. Our congratulations go to Fordhall Community Land Initiative for their fantastic photo which really does highlight the strengths of social enterprise. Social enterprise has so much to offer today’s society and economy and it’s vital that we continue to support this growing sector.”

Our winning photo will be on display alongside the other finalists as part of a free exhibition at Lumen in Tavistock Square, London until 7 January 2011.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

Monday, November 29, 2010

The driveway gets lines!

OK, I know this may not seem like the most exciting blog, but for us at Fordhall, it is quite a moment. It suddenly makes Fordhall 'seen' to passing traffic. We are now no longer 'just there' - and it all took less than an hour. Lindon and Andrew (I hope I remembered their names correctly) arrived on Friday and closely watched by site manager Charles, they created Fordhall Farms new entrance. First they heated up the tarmac with a very scary looking blow torch and then simply painted the white lines with a bucket and another painting contraption (!).

Did you know: When painting white lines on the road, they scatter finely crushed glass on top to ensure that they sparkle under cars headlights?

After leaving Fordhall Lindon and Andrew went on to paint more white lines across the country. Something that they do everyday, all year round... Quite literally painting their way around the world.

Thanks guys!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The last working weekend of 2010..............

........and what a chilly one it was too! However we had lots of people turn up for some physical outdoor work and we got lots done!

Scarves and gloves were the name of the day and lots of delicious home cooked food to keep them going! We managed to fence off more fruit tree's from the pigs, created a walk way for the farm trail and made the steps on the farm safer for the winter months. Our next working weekend is the 26th-27th February 2011, if you are interested in coming along please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Thank you.


Someone's been watching Bob the Builder!

Work on the Old Dairy renovation has been progressing well. With the driveway complete, work has progressed with removing the roof and internal walls from the building. Never far behind builders Duncan and Roger, is mum! She is always there to ensure that they are doing the job properly and sends regular reports to everyone in the office.
Those of you who have met mum (Connie) before, will know how passionate she is about Fordhall's heritage and how conscientious she is about retaining it. Over the last few weeks Duncan, Roger and Charles have taken mum under their wing, and she seems to have become the new 'apprentice builder' on site. Each morning she is ready to go at 7.30 with her his-vis jacket, boots and hard hat. She has now progressed from guardian of the past, to helping the builders progress the building for the future... and more than just in support... evidence suggests that she has been sneakerly having a go in the driving seat... watch out lads!

Meanwhile, our QS, Gavin, Jonathan and Jeremy from Shingler and myself have been meeting with renewable energy companies to confirm the technologies we will put into the building. Yesterday we met with Eco Living. Ground source heat had been a favourite, however our sandy soils at Fordhall, although great for out wintering our cattle, are not suitable for a Ground Source Heat pump as they do not hold enough embodied heat, which then reduces the efficiency of the system. The alternative may prove to be an Air Source Heat pump, but we will let you know as soon as decisions are made. Thought is also going into to PV cells for electricity generation, recovering warm air from the butchery refrigerators, and recovering warm moist air from within the building and converting that energy to fresh air to help keep the building warm (heat recovery system). There is a lot to think about. There are now many technologies available and we must be sure that we are investing our funds in the most sustainable and efficient system for Fordhall... perhaps we should see what our new apprentice builder thinks? this space.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Driveway is complete!

Yes that is correct, the entrance to Fordhall is now open - safer and easier for visitors. All we need now is a tearoom at the end of the drive to encourage you to enter it!

There were a few problems with getting the driveway large enough for a bus and a car to safely pass, but with careful thought we got there in the end.

Huge thanks must go to shareholder and volunteer David Grain who did all the wonderful drawings and plans for the driveway. David put a lot of time into our access plans along with the Building Sub Group (a sub group of our 14 Board members). The highways department at Shropshire Council have also been extremely supportive and helpful. All the things that you need when you are embarking on a building project for the first time.

Passers by will never miss Fordhall Farm again!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Scaffolding is up... and PLEASE KEEP VOTING for us!

Renovation plans are Fordhall are gathering pace all the time at Fordhall Farm. Over the last few days the remaining floors within the building have been removed and scaffolding outside has quickly gone up. The site manager for Shingler is Charles and he is pushing hard to keep the project on schedule for us - which so far is looking good!

Roger is our resident dumper truck driver (photo right). He always has a smile and has been paying careful attention to his work, with digger partner Duncan. They have been learning all about Fordhall’s history from mum and have been uncovering more of that history as they have gone along. Whilst excavating one of the central rooms - to be the end of Ben's farm shop - they found an array of water pipes. As the walls were all insulated we believe that this was used as a walk in cold room, back when Fordhall was a dairy farm producing yoghurts and selling them in department stores across the country.

Cooling pipes below the floor was quite a serious investment, especially during the 1960's which reflects the success dad's business had at the time. It is strange to think of the number of local dairy maids who must have walked through these walls, the cows that must have slept in them before that and the customers who will visit them in the future. All farms change over the years and Fordhall is no different. Even the last 5 years we have seen many changes, but none can compare to the changes that will happen over the next 6 months - Fordhall will never look the same again.
Over the next few days, so long as the wind stays away, they will be removing the roof. All tiles will be stored and placed back on in a few weeks time when the new roof structure has been built. This new roof will have to be supported by a new inner leaf to the building, so that we can support a first floor level, enabling us to make full use of the space of the buildings. We do not have enough tiles on the building to complete the re-roofing, but luckily we have a stock in the field that were kept for just this purpose when other old farm buildings were dismantled a few years ago.

Please also remember to vote for us - we can win £500 and some free accounts software! It may not sound exciting but it will be really useful in the new project. No need to fill in any forms - just click vote by following the link below...

Many thanks to you all


Fordhalls new facilities have been generously part funded by Advantage West Midlands

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Work onthe driveway begins and PLEASE VOTE FOR US!

Firstly, we have entered the Small Business Britain Charity awards. There is a potential for us to win £500 plus some exciting new accounting software! But WE NEED YOUR VOTES! Please follow the link below and vote for the Fordhall Community Land Initiative - it's that easy... You don't even have to add your email.

Closer to home and you can see from the photos that the builders have now started to remove the render from the external walls and work has begun to widen the driveway. We will increase the size of the first 10m of the farm entrance to allow two cars to pass. The result is that some of the old hedge has been removed. However, we are going to replant what we can and this will be accompanied by some traditional mixed hedgeing planted by our volunteers in the next few weeks, creating a safer and more wildlife friendly entrance to the farm.

The water has also now been reconnected and apart from some damaged bricks beneath the render, we are still on track for opening next April - yay!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Building work has begun!

Yes after many years of planning and many months of fundraising and worrying about grants, work to renovate our Old Dairy building into a tearoom, classroom and office space has now begun. Builders arrived on site yesterday and wasted no time by beginning to remove the old lean-to, once used as a loading bay for the farm when it was making yoghurts back in the 1960's and 70's (see photo below).

We are working with a family based firm from Shrewsbury, Shingler Construction. Together with Gavin, our wonderful QS from WCP Associates, and Ian from Seven Architecture we have a great team on the case. Furthermore, Connie, Charlotte and Ben's mum is busy keeping a close eye on everything - just in case any old farm artifacts are dug up during the process. With hard hat and high-vis jacket on she is never far away, but this morning she even had a friend helping her out. After feeling something funny tingling her head she took off the hard hat, and there sitting on her head curled up was a small mouse! As you can imagine, Connie was not too pleased, but it is good to know that everyone on the farm is following the progress... :-)

After set up and some demolishment work yesterday, today has been focussed on reducing ground levels around the building, which also means moving current water supplies. As you can imagine it didn't take long for the builders to tear the water pipe with their digger, and so whilst that is repaired and new supplies are brought onto the farm, we are having to limit our cups of tea in the office!

However, all the inconvenience and chaos is worth it when we remember the vision that these buildings will soon turn in to. A big thank you must always go to all of you who donated towards this landmark project and to Advantage West Midlands for their grant aid support, without either this project would not go ahead.

We will try to keep everyone informed of progress on this blog, with photos and updates - so please keep this page as a favourite.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Thank you

Just a quick blog to say thank you for all the support we had for our Halloween event last Saturday  - it was busier than we could have ever dreamed of  with over 200 children, and everyone seemed to have so much fun. Thank you to all that supported us. This is a great event that we can build on for the future.
Thank you.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Fordhall Community Garden and Farm on Sky TV

Members from the Wayfarers group from Raven House in Market Drayton will go global next week when they will be screened on the BBC Good Food Channel next Tuesday at 7pm. They have been helping to manage our community garden in Fordhall's picnic area under the skilled eye of our Gardener Bex Syrett.

The cookery show Market Kitchen, is on a regional Big Adventure as they travel the breadth of Britain in search of the best produce. In this episode celebrity chef Matt Tebbutt and guest chef Tom Kerridge visit Shropshire and amongst the producers they meet is of course Fordhall Organic Farm!

Matt and Tom visit Ben and Charlotte to find out more about the Foggage Farming system we run; one of only a handful of farms in the country to rear our livestock outdoors on grass all year round.

After walking the fields with Ben, Matt and Tom visit our community vegetable garden, which is tendered by the Wayfarers group from Raven House in between the involvement of three local schools. The group explain their involvement with the garden and provide the chef’s with some freshly picked vegetables for them to take back to the London Kitchens, along with a large piece of Fordhall beef rib.

Bex manages the garden with the Wayfarers group and local schools and said “over the last few months the group has helped out in the garden - weeding and watering the raised beds, helping to maintain the compost heaps, raking up the grass, measuring the fences to put in rabbit proofing and generally keeping the garden tidy. It’s not all work though, there is always time for a cuppa or a walk round the fields!”

The community garden at Fordhall project has been generously funded through the Big Lottery Local Food project to help inspire and teach local people about growing their own free of charge.

Why not come and join us next spring?

Other places featured on next weeks show include the Ludlow Food Centre, Sansaw Estate in Hadnall and more.

So if you have Sky then set your recorders and if you don't - find someone that does! :-)

P.S. Building work on the Old Dairy will start very soon.... watch this space for updates.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fordhall Farm mourns stolen pumpkin

Sadly on Wednesday night someone has stolen our giant (and real) pumpkin from the bottom of our drive. This was meant to advertise our up and coming Halloween event on Saturday. If anyone has seen our giant pumpkin with a scary jack- O-lantern face please can they call us here in the office and let us know.

Hannah Smith
The photo is me with another giant pumpkins that luckily we hadn't yet put down the bottom of the drive.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fun & Frights - Halloween fun this Saturday!

......have you bought your tickets yet?! Our halloween event is THIS Saturday and tickets are still available. The event is at Fordhall Farm from 5pm -9pm. Call us in the office on 01630 638696 for tickets (these are cheaper in advance!) Please see a previous blog below for more information!

See you Saturday!

Hannah Smith

Monday, October 18, 2010

Big Draw and Fordhall Working Weekend

Wow! What a weekend that was! This weekend, Fordhall Farm hosted The Big Draw event (a national art event) and held one of our regular volunteer weekends. We called our event 'Dingly, Dangly Drawings' where we made hanging mobiles from natural materials with the help of an artist. This gave people an opportunity to come along to the farm and get involved with some art. This year we made mobiles from natural items found on walks around the farm and encouraged everyone to unleash their creativity!

We also hosted another great working weekend which was a success. The event was fully booked weeks in advance and people came from far and wide to enjoy some physical outdoor work. Jobs that included some fantastic new benches and storage for our human pig ark, which could not have been completed without the skilled help of Matthew Simon from Stockport. Fencing was also erected, bales moved, and tables were made. Everyone had a great time and we had lots of new volunteers (that have also promised to come back and help us again!).

Here is a selection of photographs from the weekend and the Big Draw - enjoy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fordhall Farm on Ebay!

.....well not quite! But a kind shareholder is listing an auction for us at the moment....have a look. Here's what Kelvin has to say....!

''I have recently had a clear out and have posted 2 Beatrix Potter,Beswick characters on the site and the proceeds will go to The Old Dairy Project.Perhaps others might consider doing a similar thing and selling an item on Ebay and donating the proceeds to the project. Below is the link...please make a bid if you would like in order to get things going! Keep an eye on the auction and see what happens.....!

Kind Regards

Kelvin Baines, Shareholder.''

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fun and Frights on the Farm!

Here at Fordhall we are very excited to be hosting our first ever Halloween event on Saturday 30th October. Specifically aimed at children and families this will be a great evening of spooky Halloween fun on the farm!

Suitable for families and children aged 4-14 years this event is spooky, (not scary!) so come along and hunt for the scarecrows on our treasure hunt,  carve a pumpkin to take home with you and listen to the spooky Fordhall stories with a storyteller.

Not only that but we will have a fancy dress competition at 5.30pm and face painting taking place all night. So don't be late! Hot food and drink will be served all night and there are lots of delicious local beers for the adults to try!

Tickets can be purchased in advance for £3 per child (Adults free) and for every 4 children booked on and paid for in advance you can claim a token for one free bottle of local beer (!) All children will receive a free spooky goody bag with Halloween treats on the night.

Make a real evening of it and don't forget your torch!

To purchase tickets please contact the Fordhall office on 01630 638696 or email