Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fordhall Calendar 2012 for sale!

Yes, we have done it again, but this is definately bigger and better than any calendar before. We have changed printers and both the quality and design have been transformed.

You can buy your Calendar from the Farm shop website by following the link below. They cost only £10 each and all profits made will go towards educational activities and events in 2012.

You can buy one for yourself or for gifts. We can post them to you or direct to your friends and family - just send us a note!

Thank you in advance for all your wonderful and continued support.



Thursday, December 08, 2011

Father Christmas visits Fordhall Farm!


Visit Father Christmas in his magical outdoor Grotto. Wrap up warm, as we all know the North Pole is cold, and come and receive a special Christmas gift. Father Christmas will be visiting Fordhall on the following dates:

9th Dec: 2-4pm

10th Dec: 10-12noon and 2-4pm

11th Dec: 10-12noon and 2-4pm

16th Dec: 2-4pm

17th Dec: 10-12noon and 2-4pm

20th Dec: 10-12noon

21st Dec: 10-12noon

Each child receives a certificate of goodness from Father Christmas and a gift (£4 per child)

We will also have a festive 12 days of Christmas Trail FREE for every visitor throughout December - come and solve our yuletide riddle!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Localism Bill granted Royal Assent

The Localism Bill has been granted Royal Assent, which is the final step required for a
parliamentary bill to become law.

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, responds: "Too often there are significant barriers facing rural communities wanting to save their local shop and pub. The Community Right to Bid to Buy aims to help communities to address some of these barriers. We encourage rural communities to explore using the new Community Right powers to see how it can help safeguard their local shop and pub."

More information about the Localism Bill can be found at:


Monday, November 14, 2011

November Working Weekend!

On 12th and 13th November we held our last Volunteer Working Weekend for 2011.

Around 9am on Saturday morning the first of our twenty volunteers began to arrive for a busy and fun weekend ahead of them. After a welcome hot drink, piece of cake and lots of mingling getting to know one another, we began with the induction for the first day.

We had a long list of jobs that needed to be started and if possible finished around the farm. All jobs were maintenance based held ouside. Amazingly for November we were lucky enough to have two beautiful, mild, sunny days.

Once eveyone was given their jobs we all got to work. I was the leader of trying to fix our board walk that goes across are marsh meadow, where a few of the boards had been broken by cows. Without the boards people would find themselves upto their knees in lovely bog water. I was joined by two young lads and together we set to work on trying to lift the boards out of the bog. It soon became clear that neither of the guys had come properly prepared so we made our way back to the portcabins to find some more appropriate clothing.

Once happy we carried on with our job at hand. Everyone had got messy from their different jobs but after much falling over in the deep muddy water I'd have to say I think we were the messiest when we returned for lunch.

Over the weekend we all achieved so much, everyone worked so hard and really got stuck in to doing their jobs. We are all so grateful to all the people who gave up their time to come and help out on the farm. Altogther we accomplished:

1) Repairing numerous benches
2) Re-gravelling the drive way and around the tearoom
3) Creating a soak away outside for the new volunteer kitchen
4) Dismantling the old compost loo
5) Making planters for the new tearoom herb garden
6) Repairing the board walk
7) Making slow signs for the drive
8) Building a Bug and Breakfast  - a huge bug mansion for little insects and animals to hibernate in over the winter months.

A HUGE Thank You to everyone who came and helped, you all made it a great and brilliantly fun weekend. You are all so FANTASTIC!!!

Beth Kennett

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Love Your Garden Competition

On 26th July 2011 we began our Love your Garden competition. Fordhall Farm was joined by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust to begin six weekly events over the summer holidays trying to inspire the community to do more in their back gardens for wildlife. All events were free and were designed to give friendly tips and advice on how to invite all sorts of species into their gardens.

At the start of the year Fordhall Farm received a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to try and bring the community and wildlife together. Myself, Beth Kennett (Wildlife Officer at Fordhall Farm) and Sara Bellis (Wildlife Officer from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust), got together to see if and how we could work together and go about bringing this to life.

Other than little event days such as planting seeds ready for bees and butterflies, we wanted to come up with something that would bring together are own aims and that of the grant. Thinking of something that would bring a climax to the events and an overall aim and accomplishment to finish on was quite tricky, however, we finally came up with the competition that families and people of all ages could get involved in.

We had great fun in talking about things we could do and topics of events. All were free or low cost ideas, that invariably brought wildlife a safe haven and also could provide food for humans, such as lettuce.

The six events that were arranged consisted of a Wildlife Bioblitz, Marvelous Mammals, Amazing Amphibians and Reptiles, Brilliant Birds, Mega Minibeasts and a Wacky Wildlife Party. Overall we had nearly 300 people that came to the events, a quarter of those had never been to the farm before.

The winner of the competition was the person/family who made the most improvement and benefit for wildlife in the six week period within the Market Drayton area. There were various entries and on the 18th October Sara and I decided the winner. Ryan Kennedy from Shropshire radio came over to Fordhall ready to go to the winners home.

The winner being the Scott family. Joena, Jason, Jacob and Jasmine. After leaving the first event on the 26th they went straight home and began making plans for their wildlife garden pond. They made such brilliant habitats to benefit wildlife and to top it off they didn't spend a penny. Follow the link below if you'd like to visit thier website and see how they went about making the changes to their garden. http://loveyourgarden.weebly.com/photo-diary.html

The competition and running the events showed that people were very interested in learning more about wildlife and tips/advice they could pick up.

Even though the grant runs out at the end of this year, Sara Bellis and I are looking into continuing a 'Family Wildlife Group' for 2012. Keep a look out for that!!

Anyway, that's enough from me. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you are interested in the Wildlife Group or any event.

Beth Kennett

Monday, November 07, 2011

We have busy amidst the blog silence at Fordhall - honest!

Hi all,

Apologies for the prolonged period of silence between blogs - we will now be resuming blogging with regularity!
So, for a catch up - the last few months on the farm have been extremely busy as a result of the renovation of the Old Dairy. We have had successful basket weaving courses, a very busy tearoom and farm shop, we have organised birthday parties, lots of people have been to visit the farm trail, the Big Draw was very popular and over 200 children plus their families attended our Fun and Frights Halloween event a couple of weeks ago. Then this weekend we have another infamous Get Mucky volunteer weekend, which is already fully booked. Phew, it makes me tired just remembering it all!

The basket is nearlly done - only 3 more hours to go..

The Big Draw saw many children make many scary creatures!
Our art fair gave local artists the opportunity to show off their talent.

Over 200 children attended our Halloween event - it was great fun!

In addition to all of the activity at the farm we have been busy developing our tearoom menu. Our new team of excellent tea room staff have been discussing lots of creative ideas to make the most of the wonderful asset we have and our new chef Barney, who has come all the way from London, has been working hard to get delicious and traditional hearty fayre onto the menu.

To help kick off the new menu we held two Autumn banquets especially for our supporters. Held in our flexible rooms upstairs, 30 people sat in a room decorated by all the wonderful things that surround us in the Autumn, and they were served a delicious 5 course menu. The atmosphere was convivial and the food pulled the evening together - it was a resounding success (and the staff learnt a lot along the way too!).

Getting ready for our first banquet and our rooms come to life

Following on from this we are excited to soon be opening an evening restaurant on a Friday and Saturday evening. The menu will be filled, of course, with the best local and organic produce we can find; providing you with a completely guilt free meal. Plus with all profits being reinvested back into the educational work of the Fordhall Community Land Initiative your meal will be achieving just more than a memorable evening experience.
Finding whatever we can on the farm to decorate our tables

We'll be in touch...


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Big Draw and Art Fair!

The Big Draw event is happening here at Fordhall Farm on Sunday 16th October 10am-4pm. The national event, endorsed by Quentin Blake, encourages children and adults alike to take part in FREE art activities around the country.

We want you to come on down to Fordhall and unleash your creativity. Have a go at inventing a Fantastic Creature. It could be anything from a Sheepig to a Hipporaffe! The event will be taking place in our classroom space, in the recently renovated buildings.  We will provide all the materials that you'll need, you just need to bring your imagination! The Big Draw event is a great opportunity for all the family to get involved, whether you want to just have a go at being creative or you are a professional artist keen to show off you talent, this is your chance!

Also this year for the first time we are holding a Mini Art Fair, running from Friday 14th – Sunday 16th October, showcasing some local artists and designers. The exhibition opening times will coincide with the Fordhall Tea Room opening hours. (9.30am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm). We hope that this will be the start of something big; we want to give everyone the chance to get their work out there!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Fordhall Beer and Music Festival!!

The bunting clad marquee

The week leading up to the Festival was busy! The breweries delivered their beer and the marquee arrived. Charlotte and Beth went with Geoff Russell to collect the stage and then spent 5 hours putting it up! Josh went to collect white wine from Ludlow Vineyard and the cider from Mahorall’s Farm and Wally (that's really his name) delivered the red and the rose wine from Wroxeter Vineyard and ticket sales were still coming in!

Saturday soon arrived, the marquee was decked out in lovely bunting (supplied by shareholders and supporters) volunteers set up the bar, Rob set up the car park, the games tent was created and people began to arrive...
Odds & Ends
The first band on was Odds and Ends. They were a musician down, but still managed to play a good set full of Greenday and Beatles covers. Next up were Folkwit, Kelly and Dave swooned the crowd with their beautiful music. Raw Lemon played next with a fantastic mix of double bass and flute combined with lovely voices. Heidi and The Brownies followed, with a wide selection of original pieces. Up next was Blues Boy Dan, it’s hard to believe that the incredible husky voice singing spine-tingling original blues actually belonged to him! The great acoustic trio, Beyond Bangg followed.
Dancing in the rain to Buffalo Riot
  Then, the rain came in…but that didn’t faze anyone! The Buffalo Riot took to the stage and whilst many people crammed into the marquee, the hard-core Buffalo fans danced in the rain. 
Smokin' Aces

Oaken Lee grasped the audience’s attention with original lyrics reminiscent of Paul Simon. Our very own Katy took to the stage with her partner Toby, creating the acoustic Pre Sleep Monologue and took audiences by surprise with her stunning voice. Followed by BabyTwin, who thrilled onlookers with their unique Indie style.
To end the festival was a lively, 1950’s style band, with slicked back hair and 50’s microphones. Smokin’ Aces kicked out some rock ‘n’ roll and had everyone up and dancing to Elvis, Jonny Cash and Chuck Berry. What a fab end to the night! Massive thank you to all our performers! 

Whilst the bands were playing, the beer was flowing. Beer connoisseurs had a choice of 15 different ales from 7 local breweries. Market Drayton brewery Joule’s supported our event with a kind donation of beer and cooling systems for the barrels. Shropshire breweries Wood’s, Three Tuns, Corvedale and Salopian all provided tasty tipples as did Staffordshire breweries Titanic and Lymestone.

Skeleton Emilio and Isis Jess

As always, the volunteers we had were incredible. They were extremely hard working and willing to help out in any way they possibly could. We even had a volunteer from as far as Scotland who came down to support us. They manned the door, organised the car park, ran the bar and served ice cream, face painted, supervised the games tent and litter picked as well as packing up the morning after! Huge thank you to all in our volunteer festival team!

Chilling to the music

Still more thanks needs to go to Ben and Fordhall Farm Catering staff for supplying delicious grub, Adrian from Page Electrical who gave up his Friday afternoon to sort out our power supplies, Wenlock Water for donating bottles of water for our bar, Ago (and team) from Melody Corporation for the marquee, Geoff Russell for giving us the stage and showing us how to put it up! Thanks to the guys at Joule’s Brewery for their support and to Norman from Corvedale Brewery for his kindness and advice. 
Happy crowds and Hen Party!

Last but not least, thank you to all who attended on the day. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. See you again next year!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Having Fun with Mud

Last year at the summer fair, we had a beautiful clay pig built for us in the picnic area. The weather and time have taken their toll on the pig and it was time we did something about it. On Friday a group of children got really muddy helping to put a new coat of clay on her. Using our hands and feet, we mixed clay and water together to a consistency of peanut butter!
We then added straw, sheep's wool and horse hair to give some texture to the pig and after that we coated our pig in the mix. A final coat of clay acts like plaster to protect it from the wind and rain.
A big thank you to Nicky, Riley, Alex, Jessie, Toby, Jenny, Pip,  Fi. Christina, Ester and Claire for their help :)

Harvest time

I love this time of year in the garden when it's time to harvest the different crops that have been busy growing over the last few months.
Last week we dug up our second crop of potatoes. We planted a variety known as ambrose which we have been really pleased with. Our seed potatoes came from the Shropshire Wildlife Potato Day and we had a variety of earlies and main crop potatoes. The ambrose potatoes are really tasty, Charlotte reckons they are great no matter which way you cook them.
The picture shows a couple of young men from the Wayfarers group harvesting them on a sunny day last week. We dug up enough to share round with volunteers, staff and the tea room. This year we have been able to supply the new tea room with other produce such as courgettes, salad leaves, radishes, beetroot, spring onions and even nasturtium flowers, which look and taste great in a salad.  It's fabulous to be able to offer Carol, (our wonderful cook) our very own fresh, organic Fordhall produce. I get a real kick out of being able to pick the food and walk it over to the kitchen - not many food miles there! I have also been picking runner beans to make pickle and recently made a onion marmalade which will compliment our ploughmans on offer in the tea room. Bex

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Get your ticket for the Fordhall Beer and Music Festival

We will be demonstrating the best Shropshire and Staffordshire have to offer at our Beer and Music Festival in a few weeks time.

With 12 hours of music (folk, rock and blues), 10 bands, 15 local ales and a Fordhall BBQ feast what more could you ask for. Come and join is in the beautiful Tern Valley for a relaxing and enjoyable day in the country. Bring a balnket, a chair, some ball games, your wellies and settle yourself for the day.

And if you want to keep drinking, why not bring your tent and camp!?

Advance tickets only £10 (£12 on the door). Under 14's free!

Thank You to our Supporters!
Not so long ago we held a free thank you BBQ in the Fordhall farmhouse garden for all our supporters. Over 150 of you came along. It was great to see some old faces and some new ones. Ben cooked the traditional hog roast and you all had a chance to investigate the new buildings (part funded through you and the Rural Development Programme for England). It makes such a change to have the time to speak to you all properly. Alot of you also travelled some distance, which made us feel very priviledged - thank you. We look forward to seeing at Fordhall over the rest of the Summer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fordhall Farm on BBC Midlands News tonight!!

Ok, this one is for real! Turn on your telly for Midlands Today on BBC 1 from 6.30pm - 7pm (we'll probably be on near the end). If Midlands is not your region - then check it out on iPlayer.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fordhall Farm on BBC Tonight!

We are on BBC Midlands Today this evening - turn on your tellys tonight! Whoop whoop. Or watch it on iplayer tomorrow if your not local - there is no escape!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Fordhall Farm in the Independant

WOW - we can't believe it. Fordhall Organic Farm in rural Shropshire has been ranked 27th best Farm Shop in the country by the Independant newspaper.

The Independant's Top 50 Farm Shops

Our new shop and local food tearoom has only been open since the end of May and so to get such recognition is a real achievement. Thank you to all our wonderful customers and supporters.

We love selling fantastic local and organic food and we love eating it in our tearoom too :-)

As England's first community owned farm we are always wanting to try something new, and this year is no different. We are currently organising an fantastic local ale and music festival in partnership with our local micro Brewer Joules. The event will include 12 hours of funky, rock, folk and blues music coupled with over 15 different local ales.

So don't forget to put September 3rd in your diary now - tickets are only £10 per person in advance (free for under 14's) and you can camp for only £5! Bargain....

See you there!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blogs gone haywire - an old post published by accident...oh well, remember when....

Yes thats right, we are nearlly finished. But to meet our deadline we have all been working well into the night. Unfortunately, wonderful volunteers Alan and Gary had left by the time I took this photo, but they spent 5 dedicated hours clearing plastic from the stainless steel and unpacking the huge catering supplies order! Thank you to both of you. All we need is Andy, our sparky to power up the oven and freezer, a little repair job on the dishwasher and we are away. Compact and functional.

We are hoping to give it a test run tomorrow with our wonderful chef (and community garden coordinator), Bex. She will be backing some of our own bread and some wonderful soup and cakes.

Whilst my team were busy in the tea room, Ben, Ade and Josh were busy setting up the farm shop. They inserted shelves, fridges and freezers and ferried over all the new shop stock - very exciting.

But, it got to past midnight and we were all starting to flag a little. There are still boxes to unpack, tables and chairs to lay out, a till to programme and shelves to fill, but we will make it by the weekend.

Starting off small scale, this weekend will give us the opportunity to try the space and find out exactly what we have forgotten! Ready for our big event next weekend, when we have our annual AGM and Sunday Farmers' Market.

We hope to have a bigger official opening later in the year - possibly with a very well known visitor - fingers crossed.

Hope to see you soon,


This building is part funded by Advantage West Midlands.

Monday, July 25, 2011

So, school has finally broken up and summer is here!  We have loads of fantastic activities, events and courses running for all ages; have a look below to see what’s happening throughout the year…

Our “Love your Garden” workshops start on Tuesday 26th July, this weekly workshop is run in conjunction with The Shropshire Wildlife Trust.  These activities will be held every Tuesday throughout the summer, from 10.30am-2.30pm and they are completely FREE!
So, bring a picnic and come and join in the fun. 
Tuesday 26th July starts off with a Fordhall Farm Bioblitz! Come and help us with a giant wildlife survey on the farm,  there will be a chance to do some pond dipping, bird watching and even set up a moth trap.
Tuesday 2nd August we will be looking at Amazing Amphibians and Reptiles.  Simon Airey will lead a talk on reptiles and amphibians and show you the wonderful world of our slippy and slithery friends.  After lunch, there will be a craft session where you get the chance to make your own frog, newt or toad to take home.
Tuesday 9th August is Mega Mini-beasts; you can join a giant bug hunt and discover how to welcome these brilliant small creatures into your garden.
Tuesday 16th August is all about Brilliant Birds, you can search the skies of Fordhall for our many feathered friends and make your very own bird box and feeder to take home with you.
Tuesday 23rd August, we will be admiring Marvellous Mammals, you can find out all about the little mammals that may visit your own garden at home, learn how to look for mammal tracks and trails and help us make a home for hedgehogs at Fordhall.
Tuesday 30th August rounds all of these activities off with a Wacky Wildlife Party! Join us as we celebrate the summertime and all the wildlife in our back gardens and surrounding areas.  You can also find out how to enter the “Love your Garden” Competition and make your garden wildlife friendly – great prizes to be won!
 ALSO at Fordhall Farm this year:
An example monoprint
On Saturday 30th July, you can take part in a Print Making Workshop. Here you can create your own, unique artwork with local artist Helen Thompstone.  She will be here to teach you a simple mono-printing technique that you can put into practice on your artwork.  Think you haven’t got a creative bone in your body? This is the perfect way to start testing out your artistic talent!
This is from 10am-12pm and only £15 per person!

Friday 5th August is Family Pizza Day! Come and join Bex Syrett, our Community Garden Officer in our picnic area where you can make, bake and eat your own pizza in our outdoor clay oven! This session is from 10am-1pm and only £15 per person.  

Rag Rug by Lynne Stein
At Fordhall on Saturday 13th August Lynne Stein will be here teaching traditional rag rug techniques.  The course is suitable for total beginners as well as those with more experience.  This is a great opportunity to reuse and recycle old material that you have lying around. The course is from 10am-4pm, £50 per person and includes lunch from our local food tearoom!

On Thursday 18th August at Fordhall Farm there is the chance to learn how to get the best out of your compost heap AND enjoy a delicious hot drink and homemade cake too, come down to Coffee, Cake and Compost with Bex!From 10am-12.30pm and costs £7.50 per person. 

Pippestrelle Bat
On Thursday 1st September we are having a Brilliant Bat Bonanza.  Come for walk around Fordhall Farm with our very own Batman, Dan Merrett, from The Bat Conservation Trust.  He will be here to help us to identify the bats that we see and show us how they feed and where they roost.  It starts at 7.45pm and it’s FREE!

Saturday 3rd September is Fordhall’s Beer and Music Festival, with great local beer, great local food and great local music!!  From 11am-11pm we will be enjoying the sounds of Buffalo Riot, Raw Lemon, Pre Sleep Monologue, Heidi and the Brownies, Alfie Chevans plus many more great bands!  Tickets £10 in advance/ £15 on the door.  Camping is also available for £5.  Keep an ear to the ground for more information coming soon.
Weasel Diesel at 2010 Beer Festival

Fancy having a go at Basket Weaving?  Why not come down on Saturday 17th September  and learn the traditional art of willow weaving with experienced weavers Helen and Kevin Stanley and take home your very own basket.  This creative session is from 10am-4pm and costs £45 per person.

For those of you who have artistic talent The Big Draw event will be held here at Fordhall on Sunday 16th October.  Get your creative fingers at the ready… 

And finally, come and celebrate Halloween with us on Saturday 29th October with Fordhall Fun and Frights.  This Spooktacular event is full of treats for all the family! 

To book on any of the courses, events or activities please get in touch with Beth or Becca in the office on 01630 638696 or email project@fordhallfarm.com