Yes that's right - after years of planning and months of construction our new tea room and farm shop opened at Fordhall Farm this weekend.
We went for a soft opening, so no major publicity, but lots of signs at the end of the drive. We thought that we needed a little time to find our feet before we invite the masses... This would allow some time for staff training, remember everything we've forgotten, plan the menu etc. But a lack of publicity did not seem to matter, at lunch time every table in the tearoom was full!
The farm shop was bustling and everyone jumped in to help. The rustic tearoom and the clean lines of the oak canopy to the farm shop, make Fordhall a lovely space to sit and relax, and our visitors seemed to agree. With homemade soup, local cakes, sandwiches and organic teas, the tearoom vision we had is now a reality.
To be honest, it still feels like a blur. Arriving at Fordhall, with the new signs at the entrance, the gravel on the drive, and then the beautiful old dairy building, restored and revived. It is a sharp contrast to the run down buildings that greeted us only 9 months ago.
There are so many people to thank for this project, too many to list here. But they all know who they are. From the thousands of people who donated to our appeal last year which matched the generous funding from Advantage West Midlands, to our board members, our staff, and the many volunteers who tirelesly sanded tables and chairs, moved equipment and helped clean the space in preperation for today. Not to mention all the professionals who worked on the build including Shingler Construction, Seven Architecture and WCP Associates. And of course to Oliver Allan for his wonderful photos. Thank you all.
With the first day behind us, our focus now turns towards our AGM and Farmers' Market next week. Our upstairs classroom and office space is still in construction, but it won't be long until we can fully move in.
We are young and determined people assisted by over hundreds of volunteers who have come together to ensure this beautiful traditional countryside is saved. We are increasing the rich biodiveristy of the farm and helping to educate people about the pasture to plate cycle. Demonstrating that small-scale farming connected to the local community can offer a viable way of life for generations to come.