Monday, January 24, 2011

Fordhall Calendars now just £5

.........Still not got a 2011 calendar? Then what are you waiting for!

Please contact Hannah in the office on 01630 638696 or email

Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Old Dairy now has a toilet and shower.... well nearly!

Looking into Fordhall's new farm shop and butchery
WOW - things are definately gathering speed on site now. As the joists for the ceiling go in, you really get a sense for the different rooms. The photo above shows the view into Ben's new farm shop with the butchery at the end. Although there looks like a lot of space on the photo, when you are inside it is not a huge amount bigger than our previous shop. Nevertheless, he will have the added benefit of the butchery onsite.

The warmer weather has meant that the brickies have been able to crack on with relaying the old bricks with lime mortar, and as a result the character of our old building is coming back.

A volunteer emailed me earlier today to ask if I could send him evidence of the shower room that will go in for volunteers (those who have volunteered at Fordhall will know that the current asbestos decontamination unit can get quite cold in the winter!). It is a bit difficult to see as walls are going up very quickly, but there is one single and one disabled toilet on the left behind the old brick wall (in the image below) and the shower will be in with the disabled toilet. Volunteers may be disappointed to hear that it will be smaller than the current shower, but it will at least be warm and available all year!
And behind the old brick wall toilets and a volunteer shower are being created from recycled blocks.


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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Conferences, farming and biodiversity.

Birds, butterflies, insects and small mammels all need diverse plant life to survive.
Over the past few weeks I have been fortunate to be asked to speak at two high profile conferences on future farming. Both conferences were keen to hear about our Foggage farming system at Fordhall Farm, highlighting the consumer and industry shift towards methods of more diverse and ecological farming systems. The first was the Oxford REAL Farming Conference at the beginning of January, jointly organised by author and scientist Colin Tudge and Agricultural Editor of the Archers, Graham Harvey.

Due to all the renovation works at the farm, I could only make it to one day of the conference, but it was an inspiration. I was most impressed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist and nutritionist. She described how the human gut is to us, what the soil is to the plant - the source of all health. Whether you are talking about the human body or the environment, it makes sense. The healthier and more balanced the source of nutrition is, the healthier and stronger the bodies or plants it supports will be, and this is of course the lynch pin of organic agriculture.

For years, we have treated the symptoms of unhealthy plants by prescribing fertilisers and pesticides or imposing mechanical operations. We have ignored the crucial role of the soil - the area which for milennia has been the backbone for all life on the surface. By working to improve the health of our soil, our plants/crops will grow healthy and in abundance.

It was an inspiring talk and for me it reminded me of the struggles dad had when he took over Fordhall in 1929 and the direction he chose to take to improve his crops - to protect and nurture the soil.

Clover - one of the farmers' best friends.

Most recently I spoke at the Organic Producers Conference, organised by The Organic Research Centre (Elm Farm). Again the message through this conference was biodiversity, both above and below ground. My particular workshop focusses on whether the 'land-sharing' approach was better than the 'land-sparing' approach that separates natural areas and agriculture into parks and (intensive) farmland.

Martin Wolfe provided a wonderful presentation from his farm in suffolk, demonstrating how intercropping with trees and other woodland shrubs increased natural biodiversity and  increased stability of the farming system. The benefits resulted from a reduction in the spread of disease and an increase in the health of the soil. Overall, a more sustainable farming system, which had the added benefit of being very pleasing to to the eye!

 ... I can't wait for our orchard in the pig paddocks to blossom!

All in all, a very fascinating January, with lots to spear us on at Fordhall for the next 12 months.


p.s. If you haven't already joined Hugh's Fish Fight - do it now!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fordhall Jumble Sale this weekend!

Please don't forget that its our jumble sale at the Beacon Community Centre in Market Drayton from 10am - 12pm this Saturday. So come along and grab a bargain! We will also be serving hot teas and coffees.

All funds raised will go towards The Fordhall Community Land Initiative.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Look at Fordhall's new tearoom!

The view inside our tearoom. It might not look like much yet... but just wait and see :-)

Work on our Old Dairy has notched up a gear as the walls go up extremely fast. There is even talks of the mild weather allowing the external old brick work to be repaired next week. We are all keeping our fingers crossed for the mild weather to continue.

Looking toward the new farm shop and butchery.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We have floors!

New sub floors go into our Old Dairy. The space here will include Ben's butchery and farm shop as well as toilets and a volunteer shower - very exciting!

As the new year gets underway our building is really starting to take shape. Last week the warmer temperatures allowed our first layer of concrete to be laid. This has provided the remaining walls with much needed stability, whilst work on the internal structure continues.

It is amazing to walk around Fordhall and each day there is a different view to look at. Now building sites might not always be the most exciting places, but we are certainly getting a lot of enjoyment about seeing our building at Fordhall progress. Seeing the new floor go in was a great step forward and allows us to really begin to visualise the space.

But, as soon as the floor was set, Shingler set about building the internal structure and it began to look smaller again! This inner leaf will provide the stability we need to hold the first floor and the roof. Although it looks like a lot of concrete block, these blocks are all 80% recycled aggregate and so we are doing our bit wherever we can. Soon the structure for the roof and first floor will appear and our building will really begin to take shape.
... Meanwhile we are planning for the opening... If anyone has any lovely old chairs and tables (in good condition) or tea sets (which are dishwasher proof) then please do let us know.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rumble in the Jumble and Seed Swap

It's nearly time for our 2011 Rumble in the Jumble!
This years jumble sale and seed swap event takes place on the 22nd January 2011 at the Beacon Community Centre in Market Drayton from 10am-12pm.
Everyone loves a January bargain so come along and see what you can pick up!


P.S - We still need more jumble so if anyone is having a new year clearout?!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Calendars now REDUCED just £6! Merry Christmas!

Fordhall 2011 calendars, filled with stunning images of Fordhall throughout the year, are now reduced to just £6, so if you haven't got a 2011 calendar - why not get one from us?

We also have our stunning Fordhall Farmhouse from Lilliput Lane back in stock here in the office after we sold out over the Christmas period. Stocks of these are limited too so please be quick if you want one! To reserve one please email the office on or call 01630 638696.
These are £25 each.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Progress on Fordhall's Renovation

Fordhall Farm Frost Dec 2010

Well what a winter already. Apologies for not keeping the blog as regularly updated over the Christmas period. It was extremely frantic in the run up to Christmas with everything taking longer in the frost and almost 400 turkeys and gammons to prepare ready for everyone's Christmas dinners. As Christmas day quickly came upon us, we took the opportunity at Fordhall Farm to rest for a few days and enjoy the beauty of Fordhall at this time of year - although Ben slept for most of Christmas Day!

2010 has been a very busy year with many milestones achieved, not least the successful appeal to raise £100,000 towards the renovation of the Old Dairy and the successful grant funding from Advantage West Midlands. Both of which we could not have achieved without your continued support for the project - thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 2011 will now see the fruits of our labour.

So new the New Year begins. Work on our Old Dairy building did take a small turn for the worse before Christmas, but we are now definately back on track and amazingly still on schedule. Due to the unstable nature of our old barn, three walls collapsed just before Christmas. It was a real shame that more of the existing building was lost, however Shingler will ensure that they are erected straighter than they began! Additional scaffolding was erected during the winter period to support the remaining walls and we were grateful that the winds remained low.

Our Old Dairy loses some walls!

All whole bricks from the walls were cleaned and stacked ready to re-erect the wall in the New Year. The biggest drawback to this incident is that our outer walls are built with old bricks and traditional lime mortars, which need the warmer temperatures to work. We will now have to keep our fingers crossed more than ever, that we get some warmer spells over the next few weeks.

Shingler construction soon move forward with rebuilding the internal walls in recycled block whilst additional scaffolding supports the existing walls.

To enable the builders to continue work during the cold weather and to facilitate the incorporation of a damp proof membrane through the back walls of the Old Dairy, Shingler have built the first 1600mm of wall in 80% recycled block work.

The damp proof membrane goes in Fordhall's Old Dairy Building and final touches are made before the concrete is laid.

The result is that progress this week has been quick and already they are preparing for the base layer of concrete to the building that will provide the support so desperately needed for the remaining walls.

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

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Happy New year from all at the FCLI! What a great year 2011 is going to be for all at Fordhall Farm - we can't wait to see the buildings finished!
Keep checking the blog for up to date news on the buildings renovation and don't forget - If you haven't made any New Years resolutions yet why not make visiting Fordhall one of them?

P.S - If anyone is having a 'New Year' clear out then please remember us as we really need jumble for our sale on the 22nd of this month! Thank you.