Friday, April 22, 2011

Dawn Chorus Walks at Fordhall Farm on Bank Holiday Weekend

This May bank holiday weekend we are holding a Dawn Chorus Walks at Fordhall to help celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day and of course the Royal Wedding!

It will begin at 4.30am on Sunday May 1st at Fordhall. Led by local twitcher and lifelong bird enthusiast Paul Rutter. Paul has a wealth of knowledge and will lead you around Fordhall, through woodlands, over wetlands, diverse grass meadows and more. You will get the opportunity to hear many birds and enjoy the challenge of deciphering which bird is associated with which call! Something that I have fun with every year :-)

Each morning the sun rises around the world facing ever more environmental challenges. Everywhere people face problems of pollution, famine, climate change and habitat destruction. Yet each morning the birds awake and sing their songs with enthusiasm

International Dawn Chorus day is a chance to set aside all our challenges for a few minutes, join in with your friends around the world in enjoying and celebrating nature’s miracle – the Dawn Chorus.

This is the time of year when all our birds come back to mate and nest. They are all competing with each other for mates and we have the wonderful opportunity of being part of that experience with them.

In previous years we have spotted pied wagtail (as in the photo above), lapwing, buzzards, teal, chiff chaffs, woodpeckers, thrush, reed bunting and more... Who knows what other unusual birds you may find this year or what other wildlife you will see?

If you would like to join us please can you contact the office to book. The walk will end with a full cooked breakfast from the farm (veggie options available too). Full walk and breakfast costs £10.00 per person.

We do hope you will be able to join us.

01630 638696 or

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Only 4 weeks until Fordhall Farm re-opens...

Fordhall Farm's new green roof canopy
As time moves on and Easter approaches, the final touches on our renovation project begin. This week Sedum Supplys have been putting the gravel base onto our green roof. This substrate will hold a beautiful biodiverse roof, which all the local widlife will be able to take advantage of throughout the year. 

Welsh slate really makes
the new Farm Shop special
Inside the building progress continues. Downstairs is fully plastered and has even received its first coat of paint. Our welsh tiles have arrived and Mick has been carefully laying them through the building - with a little (OK a lot) of moaning in between because they are not the square straight tiles he is used to! The farm shop is now complete, the toilets and tea room will be next. I have to say that it looks beautiful and Mick has done a fantastic job - despite the moaning!

Meanwhile, work has continued upstairs and outside. Warmcell recycled newspaper is blown in between the floor joists to help insulate the building and reduce noise between the floors.
The recycled newspaper is blown in between the joists. It is shredded so fine, it looks like we have had mice!

Plasterers work hard in
our new office
And lime plaster is applied to the walls and ceilings. After all coats have been applied we are left with about 13mm of lovely lime plaster. This type of plaster allows the building to breath and provides a lovely rustic feel with it. To compliment the plaster, these areas will also be painted with a chalk based lime paint, which along with being breathable have no nasty VOCs that can affect your health.

Externally, the drainage is in, our soakaway and septic tank have arrived and most of the external paving is complete.

With only 3-4 weeks before we open, it is all hands on deck. Ben and I and the rest of the team are busy finalising the details such as tables, shelves, crockery, suppliers and more. There are so many things to think about - we hope we remember to get the coffee!


This work has been part funded by Advantage West Midlands

Friday, April 08, 2011

New workshops at Fordhall!

I know that I haven't written on the blog in a while but thought I would write again and keep up with the trend of good news and progress by announcing and drawing your attention to our new programme of events!
With our fantastic new facilities here at Fordhall very nearly ready I have been busy planning some fantastic workshops for our new classroom. It's great that we will be able to host these, it will really help to enhance Fordhall and what it has to offer. We have rag rug workshops, printmaking, basket making, digital photography and lots more to come so please take a lok at our events page on our website for more details and let me know if any take your fancy!

(Even if you are not interested please let anyone know that might be! Spread the word!)


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

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Happy Hemp!

The hemcrete is shoveled in between shutters. Once dry the external shutter will be removed to allow the hemcrete to breath.
Today we built our Hemp wall, and boy were we excited! It has been a long time coming. It is something new for our architects, our builders and us. Mixed in the cement mixer, this hemp and lime mix will create stability and insulation for our classroom walls. Over the last few months, Jemma from Seven Architecture, has been working closely with Lime Technology to get our design just right.
Unlike the rest of the building, there is no cavity, no stud wall and no insulation - just solid hemp through and through. For those of you who have not come across hemp before, you may be familiar with another variety - the cannabis plant. Different varieties of hemp have different uses and characteristics including medicinal, nutritional and even as a biofuel.

We are using hemp to consolidate and insulate our walls, as well as acting as a moisture regulator for our lovely new classroom space. Plus as hemp absorbs carboon dioxide and releases oxygen as it grows, it is seen as a carbon negative product - even better for our carbon footprint!

It is so simple to use, a quick mix in the mixer with the lime and water, and then into the walls and left to dry. It was so simple, it was a task we could all help with - although I think we may have slowed the process down more than we speeded it up...

Sharon puts in her first shovel of hemcrete

Volunteer Ann soon follows suit
..and Sarah our graduate is not far behind.

But of course, I had to have a go too!

In some areas of our building we have used a recycled aggregate block for structural support, and although hemp can act as structural support we do not have enough time to allow it to harden - many weeks. The timber frame within the hemp therefore has to take the load of our roof.

But don't fear, I have lots of samples of all the materials we have used within our build to have on display when you visit, and don't forget we will be open in May!

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