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.