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